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ARLINGTON, Va. — For the second time in six months, the Army is raising the maximum enlistment age for new recruits, this time from 40 to 42, recruiting officials announced Wednesday.

The increase to age 42 applies to both men and women, and older applicants are eligible for the same enlistment bonuses and other incentives available to any other applicant, according to Julia Bobick, a spokesman for the Army’s Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky.

Adding an additional two years to the entry limit “expands the recruiting pool, provides motivated individuals an opportunity to serve, and strengthens the readiness of Army units,” Bobick said.

Nevertheless, the Army is not expecting an influx of Americans older than 40 who will be eager to don a uniform full-time, she said.

“We don’t anticipate that this is going to give us a lot more enlistments,” Bobick said. “It’s a way to give [older] individuals on opportunity to serve if they want to do so.”

Congress gave all of the services permission to raise the maximum age for recruits from 35 to 42 in the fiscal 2006 defense budget authorization.

Only the Army, which has been struggling with recruiting in the face of ongoing deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, decided to take advantage of the extension, with the age increase applying to the active Army, the Army Reserve and National Guard.

Although Army officials always intended to raise the bar to the 42-year limit set by Congress, they began by taking an “interim step” and increasing the limit just to age 40, Bobick said.

The reason for that was because officials decided individuals over that age would require additional cardiovascular checkups and other medical tests, and “we needed time to work out the details” of how the tests would be conducted, Bobick said.

In addition to the extra medical screening, applicants over age 40 will be expected to meet all of the regular Army eligibility standards for entry, including passing physical fitness standards, Bobick told Stars and Stripes by telephone Thursday.

Even with the 40-year age limit in place, the Army has gained more than 1,000 new soldiers that would not have been allowed to join before January, she said.

The active Army has gained a total of 389 individuals older than age 35 since the age limit was lifted, while the Army Reserve has gained 696 soldiers over the age of 35, Bobick said.

The Army Recruiting Command does not keep recruiting statistics for the Army National Guard, Bobick said.

The maximum age to enlist in the Air Force and Marine Corps remains 27, with some exceptions in the Marines for individuals up to 29 years old. The Navy’s maximum is age 35.


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