The Pentagon on Wednesday released its new policy on military lethality, which will begin separation procedures for service members who have been non-deployable for the last 12 months or more.
“This new policy is a 12-month deploy or be removed policy,” Robert Wilkie, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told a Senate panel Wednesday. “However, there are exceptions.”
As Military Times previously reported, there will be exceptions, such as pregnancy. Medical boards will review wounded personnel, and the services will retain the ability to grant exceptions to wounded warriors.
Full details of the policy were expected to be posted publicly at noon Thursday.
“The situation we face today is really unlike anything we have faced, certainly in the post-World War II era,” Wilkie told the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel and readiness. “On any given day, about 13 to 14 percent of the force is medically unable to deploy. That comes out to be about 286,000 [service members].”
Wilkie said that the new policy was the result of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ July 21 memo that “everyone who comes into the service and everyone who stays in the service is world-wide deployable.”
Wilkie likened having 14 percent of forces non-deployable to Jeff Bezos at Amazon walking into his company on Christmas week and finding that 14 percent of his employees were unable to work.
“He would no longer be the largest company in the world,” Wilkie said.
Wilkie acknowledged several deployability challenges that are “on us,” such as unit leaders not ensuring that all of the service members under their leadership had gotten all of their required dental and medical care.
Command Sgt Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joe Dunford, estimated that as many as 99,000 military personnel are unable to deploy because they were missing a medical appointment or immunization.
But “the other thing we’ve seen is that in the down years of recruiting for the military, we offered too many medical waivers,” Wilkie said. “The medical conditions those service members have followed them into the service as they progressed through their careers. We have to address that.”
The text of the DoD policy memo is below:
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."