Soldiers who cannot deploy could face separation from the service sooner rather than later. Under a directive issued Nov. 15 by Army Secretary Mark T. Esper, soldiers who do not meet deployable standards have six months to do so. The order applies to the active, reserve and National Guard forces, and follows guidelines Defense Secretary James Mattis issued last February. To meet deployment criteria, all soldiers must:
* Have no legal, administrative or medical reasons why they cannot be deployed into any environment.
* Be able to operate in “harsh environments or areas with extreme temperatures.”
* Be able to carry and use the weapon to which they are assigned.
* Be able to “execute the Army’s warrior tasks.”
* Be able to operate all equipment — including body army, eye protection, gloves and chemical and biological equipment.
* Meet fitness standards.
An estimated 60,000 soldiers now are considered non-deployable. Not all of them would be subject to discharge, however. Some with medical or legal reasons could be exempt from separation. Commanders at the rank of colonel and above alone can review such cases and determine if exemptions would apply.