That number sounds alarming, but military personnel can be non-deployable for all kinds of reasons, ranging from injury up through missing a dentist’s appointment. Because part of deployability means you can chew good.
No joke, you have to have a current dental exam.
But the DoD’s not worried about missed dental appointments. Rather it’s wanting to get rid of anyone who’s been non-deployable for a year or more. Because if you can’t deploy, it makes it hard to send you to war.
The current SecDef knows a few things about warfighters (I do no like that word) and lethality, having spent a minute in positions of authority in the military. He wants to be sure that US soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines are all ready to go to war if they have to.
And he’d rather not wait for someone to get their teeth cleaned.
It’s all part of making the existing force as lean and mean as possible. And that, since we appear to be ready to go to war with everybody, is a worthy ambition. Where it gets less reasonable is in expecting everyone, even your intel guru who’s going to spend their deployment staring at the same screen they do at home station, meet the same standards.
Still, it’s a starting point, and a necessary one in an age where the force has to be ready for the next fight. Not just this one.