WASHINGTON - U.S. military service members will need to be ready to deploy or else be ready to find another line of work; the Department of Defense announced a new policy this week aimed at reducing the number of people medically unable to deploy.
According to the new policy, service members will soon be separated if they have been non-deployable for the last 12 months or are determined to be non-deployable for 12 months.
Branches have been ordered to begin processing of non-deployable service members for administrative or disability separation. The procedures must be in place by Oct. 1, but branches may begin separations immediately.
The move comes after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sent a memo on July 21 saying "everyone who comes into the service and everyone who stays in the service is world-wide deployable."
There are a few exceptions: the policy doesn't affect pregnant and post-partum service members, and military department secretaries will have the authority to grant waivers.
The undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Robert Wilkie, told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee that there are about 286,000 service members who are unable to deploy, according to MilitaryTimes.
"On any given day, about 13 to 14 percent of the force is medically unable to deploy," Wilkie said.
Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, an adviser to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, estimated that up to 99,000 service members can't deploy because they were missing a medical appointment or immunization, MilitaryTimes reported.
But Wilkie acknowledged the branches offered too many medical waivers and that those medical conditions followed people as they progressed through their careers.