A 2018 RAND report on health promotion and disease prevention has painted a grim picture of the military’s physical fitness and sleep standards.
The study, featuring roughly 18,000 randomly selected participants across each of the service branches, showed that almost 66 percent of service members are considered to be either overweight or obese, based on the military’s use of body mass index as a measuring standard.
While the number of overweight service members is a cause for concern, it correlates with the obesity epidemic plaguing the United States, where, as of 2015, one in three young adults are considered too fat to enlist, creating a difficult environment for recruiters to find suitable candidates for military service.
Broken down by service, the 2018 report lists the Army as the branch accounting for the highest percentage of overweight troops, with 69.4 percent of soldiers falling under this category.
The Army was followed by the Coast Guard (67.8 percent), Navy (64.6 percent), Air Force (63.1 percent) and Marine Corps (60.9 percent).
Another glaring area of concern highlighted in the study was the inability of service members to get adequate sleep.
Nearly 9 percent of military personnel reported taking sleeping medications either “daily” or “almost daily.”
The Army reported the highest rate of sleep concerns, with 10.6 percent of soldiers routinely consuming sleeping aides. Marines (9.9 percent), airmen (7.5 percent) and sailors (6 percent) rounded out the troubling category.
In terms of problematic sleeping patterns, 59.4 percent of soldiers reported getting less sleep than needed, and 33.2 percent answered that the lack of sleep contributed to being regularly bothered by an energy deficiency.
Personnel from the other services, especially the Navy and Marine Corps, reported experiencing the aforementioned sleep issues at a similar rate.
An extensive 2017 review of inpatient and outpatient records, dating from 2005 to 2014, for active-duty military personnel found that both insomnia and sleep apnea are on the rise, according the Journal of Sleep Research.
Similar sleep concerns in the Navy’s surface fleet were heavily scrutinized this year in the wake of the service’s fatal collisions involving the destroyers Fitzgerald and John S. McCain.
“Sleep disorders are a serious problem that interferes with the ability of soldiers to do their jobs effectively,” Harris Lieberman, study author and military nutrition specialist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts, reported.
In response to sailor reports of sleep deprivation due to the Navy’s furious operational tempo, top brass implemented a policy featuring overhauled watch schedules that better align with sailors’ circadian rhythms, a move designed to allow for improved rest periods.
The RAND report’s Health Related Behaviors Survey has been issued periodically for 30 years by the Department of Defense in an effort to best gauge the condition of the country’s fighting force.
Survey items traditionally examined include health promotion and disease prevention, substance use, mental and physical health, sexual behaviors and deployment experiences.
In related news, President Donald Trump has accused OPEC’s Middle East producers of “pushing for higher and higher oil prices.”
Oil prices showed a mixed reaction to Trump’s words. The Brent benchmark fell 43 cents to $78.97 per barrel, while the US Texas Intermediate grew 9 cents to $71.21.
This is not the first time Trump has attacked OPEC and blamed it for high oil prices. Asked by Fox on July 1 if someone was manipulating oil markets, Trump said: “OPEC is and they better stop it because we’re protecting those countries, many of those countries.” In a follow-up Tweet on July 4, the president said that “the United States defends many of those countries for very little $’s.”
Trump, who is a proponent of cheap crude, has told OPEC countries they would not be safe for long without the US.
If #American #Military has to risk their lives to keep #OPEC nations stable & safe, the very least they can do is to match our expenses with same value of oil. We scratch their back, they scratch ours. Then it all comes out even & true fair trade of services for goods. pic.twitter.com/xFd24pdvhO
— overpasses4America (@o4america) September 20, 2018
Why does Trump so badly want low oil prices?
De-facto OPEC leaders Saudi Arabia and Russia have an agreement to curb oil production. The kingdom, its Gulf allies and Russia have recently agreed to lift production by about 1 million barrels per day (bpd) to offset losses from Venezuela and Iran, but not more. This keeps oil no lower than $75 per barrel.
As oil prices remain high, prices for gasoline in the US are growing. The average cost of gasoline has risen 60 percent from $1.87 per gallon in February 2016 to over $3 in September.
Higher oil prices have boosted economies of producing states North Dakota, Texas and others.
“But most of those states are solidly Republican and likely to vote for Trump’s party at the mid-term congressional elections in 2018,” said John Kemp, a Reuters market analyst. “The president, therefore, is paying much closer attention to the harmful impact of higher oil and gasoline prices on consumers in swing states.”
One of the largest factors for the oil price surge is Trump’s sanctions war against Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, analysts have said. As Iran oil sales decline, the supply goes down, and prices grow.
Does the US really protect the Middle East?
The psychopathic Islamic regime in Iran is not the only country in the Middle East which might find Trump’s so-called protection claim questionable.
Trump has said several times that without the US, OPEC countries would not be safe. OPEC nation Libya would surely doubt that after Hillary Clinton ordered a 2011 NATO military intervention in Libya to oust the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, fueled a major conflict which took the lives of thousands of civilians, and created the Islamic State in the process. In the war, Libya lost more than half of its 1.6 million barrels per day in oil production, something which still hasn’t returned to 1 million.
OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, Iraq, suffered a US military invasion in 2003, when America should have been invading Mexico for being the actual threat to the United States. Iran and Venezuela are under tough US sanctions which have slashed their oil exports and triggered a currency crisis.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 4th, 2018