(Aug. 21, 2013) Airmen who are a bit too big around the middle may not automatically fail the Air Force physical fitness test, according to a memo today from the service’s chief of staff.
The memo from Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, which was obtained by Air Force Times, allows leniency on the controversial abdominal circumference measurement. Airmen have complained for years that they could do a sufficient number of pushups and situps to pass the test, as well as complete the running portion in an adequate time, but still fail because they were too big at the waist.
In the memo, Welsh wrote, “If an airman fails the [abdominal circumference] portion of the test, and passes each of the other three components, we’ll measure that airman using the Body Mass Index (BMI) taping guidance in [Defense Department] instructions.”
If that airman passes the BMI, he or she will pass the physical fitness test.
The new guidance goes into effect Oct. 1.
Air Force Times says 30,174 airmen failed the waist measurement test between October 2010 and March. Of those, 5,141 passed the other three parts of the test.
Welsh also pointed out that few airmen have been booted from the service for failing the waist measurement. He put the number at 76.
The memo notes other changes to the physical fitness test.
Welsh wrote, “First, we’re realigning the fitness appeal process back to wing commanders. Second, passing standards are being adjusted for airmen who can only test on one component of the Fitness Assessment, and third, we’re changing and simplifying the walk test.”