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Are the army's enlistment standards too harsh?

 A new military training exercise tests out Australia's amphibious capabilities."

Recently, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Australian Army applicants were being rejected because of strict dietary diseases. Fairfax media spoke to a young man and women who were not enlisted due to coeliac disease, a major intolerance to gluten.

"I think that food technology has advanced in the past few years to the point where they should be able to support people who have an intolerance," said Cameron Chalmers who was turned down in 2012.

So what are the grounds for rejection?

Review of existing restrictions

Although we wrote early this month about new possibilities for women in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), a number of recruitment constraints fall in the grey area between discrimination and restrictions.

In addressing the challenging nature of defence work, certain medical restrictions are stipulated by the ADF's recruitment centre, though rather ambiguously: Applicants must "be free of any illness or disability that would prevent them from carrying out these duties throughout their Service life."

Other than the expected criminal and drug checks, the ADF has strict policies on tattoos, epileptics, and requires candidates to have top-notch vision. For new entrants, there is also an age limit, both lower (19) and upper (30), and they have to be at least 152 cm tall without shoes, although height is one of the more lenient criteria.

How far back do personnel restrictions go in the armed forces?

The trend in wanting the best began in WWI. The Australian Imperial Force, as it was titled 100 years ago, was intent on proving its value in quality not numbers. Whilst at the time there were 820,000 potential recruits, only 20,000 were enlisted, due to high physical and medical standards, experience and race.

The Australian War Memorial quoted Bill Gammage's renowned book "The broken years: Australian soldiers in the Great War" to show how rejection was tough and shameful.

"Rejected men stumbled in tears from the tables, unable to answer sons or mates left to the fortunes of war," wrote Mr. Gammage.

To be a member of the Australian Defence Force is an honour, but some will never have the privilege. To be a member of the ADF is an honour, but some will never have the privilege.

Manageable health issues

Whilst the ADF explained how certain food rations make recruits with such dietary requirements difficult, the rejection is proving to be a shock, just as it was for men enlisting for WWI. Only 100 men and women are rejected annually, the ADF told Fairfax, but Annie Smith, who was rejected because of her gluten intolerance clearly felt discriminated against.

"I can see where they are coming from but I still think it is not fair. It's not that much of a change and they allow for other people with allergies to join, but not us," said Ms Smith.

Interconnect Systems has a comprehensive background in aerospace and defence engineering, being an industry leader for more than 20 years. It provides electrical interconnect products and solutions, including cable and wire harness manufacture. For more information on the best backshells and cable harness solutions, contact Interconnect Systems today on 1800 812 214 FREE.

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