Air Force senior leadership announced enhancements to the Air Force’s Physical Fitness Assessment program, to be implemented Oct. 1.
In a letter to Airmen Aug. 20, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III explained the results of the comprehensive review, highlighting the strength of the program and the need for slight improvements.
“We have a tremendous program that has fundamentally changed the Air Force’s overall fitness level over the past few years,” Welsh said. “The PFT itself is not going to change. But even the best program can be improved upon, so we are making changes in four different areas to enhance the overall program.”
Of the changes coming Oct. 1, the most significant is to the abdominal circumference portion of the test. The AC assesses an Airman’s body composition. Presently individuals who do not meet the established minimum requirements for the abdominal circumference measurement are given an automatic failure.
The change in Oct. will allow an individual whose waist abdominal circumference measurement is larger than the set standard to also have their Body Mass Index measured, using the Body Mass Index taping guidance in DoD instructions.
Airman 1st Class Christian Asturias, a Physical Training Leader assigned to the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) said, “There are those rare individuals who are amazing athletes who have large waists, and it’s those people who deserve the second chance. But if you are not in shape the BMI is not going to help you much.”
The other program modifications include realigning the fitness appeal process back to wing commanders, changing and simplifying the walk test, and adjusting passing standards for Airmen who can only test on one component of assessment.
Under current guidelines, individuals who test in one section of the PFT must meet the target component value. Meeting the established minimum component value will result in an automatic failure. Adjusting passing standards will allow individuals who meet the minimum component value to pass the PFT.
“I can understand wanting to adjust the passing standards for people who are only testing on one or two components to make it more fair,” Master Sgt. Louis Barks, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern Command), Airfield Manager.
Though senior leaders are looking to improve the current fitness program, Welsh said he is proud of the Air Force program, and the physically fit culture it has helped to cultivate.
“I believe we have DoD’s best designed, best run fitness program, and as a result, we have a force ready for any mission our nation asks us to execute,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of how far we’ve come with our fitness culture.”
Editor’s Note: Staff Sgt. David Salinitri, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office, contributed to this story.