Sep 13, 2010 12:11 PM
CAMP PENDLETON, CA. - Right now, the pressure is on for thousands of Marines to ace a test that weighs whether they're in fighting form. It's part of a get-tough plan to hold marines to a higher standard for physical fitness that's causing some to stress out over making the cut.
The combat fitness test forces Marines to master a gauntlet in minutes. It includes running, lifting, crawling, dragging and carrying all done in uniforms and boots.
Eric Alton, a master sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps said, "You think, 'Hey, I can run and stuff in t-shirts and shorts and tennis shoes but on the battlefield I'm going to be in my utilities."
The CFT is designed around typical stresses the body faces in combat situations, "Marines can deploy at any time if they're staying in shape with the CFT when they go to combat it's going to be less fatiguing on them," Msgt. Alton explained.
Failing on the fitness test can get a Marine passed over for promotion, dashing career hopes. In rare cases, Marines have taken drastic measures to meet stricter body fat rules. Msgt. Alton said, "I've only had one experience of a Marine doing liposuction out of 20 years, that was just basically under necessity."
Cari Gordonn, from the MCCS Semper Fit program said, "There's a lot of pressure to perform in their individual units, this is the stuff we hear."
To help overcome that anxiety, the Marine Corps Semper Fit program is investing millions in new gyms with functional workout rooms, recreation programs, and nutrition classes. "What we try to do is educate them and provide them resources as fast as we can to make them be as competent and successful, not with what is required of them as a Marine or required of them in a fitness test, but also what will help them in a lifestyle change," Gordonn explained.
Marines are the first to use a combat specific fitness test. Other branches of the military like the Navy are making changes to their standard yearly exams to make them more challenging.