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Marines showcase Combat Fitness Test

By Lance Cpl. Cristina Noelia Gil | | August 20, 2008

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With the Corps' new combat fitness test nearing, Training and Education Command officials began a worldwide road show for Marines and media here Aug. 18-19. 

In the next few months at installations around the globe, instructors from the Martial Arts Center of Excellence in Quantico, Va., will demonstrate how to conduct the CFT, which follows recent revisions to the Corps' physical fitness, body composition and military appearance programs. These revisions were signed by the commandant earlier this month in Marine Corps orders 6100.13 and 6110.13.

The CFT is intended to keep Marines ready for the physical rigors of contemporary combat operations. Individual readiness will be measured by requiring Marines in battle dress uniform to sprint a timed 880 yards, lift a 30-pound ammunition can overhead from shoulder height repeatedly for two minutes, and perform a maneuver-under-fire event, which is a timed 300-yard shuttle run in which Marines are paired up by size and perform a series of combat-related tasks.

"The CFT shows that you have to train a whole lot more than just preparing for a three-mile run and 20 pull-ups," said Lance Cpl. James T. Hammons, a machinist serving with Weapons Training Battalion who ran a trial CFT at Marine Corps Base Quantico. "It is an evaluation that involves so much more."

An initial phase-in period, in which grading will be pass or fail, is in effect until Sept. 30, 2009. Results will be placed in unit diary reports and fitness reports, but will not count toward performance evaluation until the CFT is officially implemented Oct. 1, 2009, according to All-Marine Message 032/08.

"Our nation has high expectations of her Marines," said Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps. "Accordingly, our high standards of professional and personal performance, to include our physical fitness and military appearance, must be maintained and adhered to by every Marine."

Several variations were tested on more than 2,500 Marines from 18 separate commands since the commandant made his objectives for the CFT clear in November 2007, said physical readiness programs officer Col. Brian J. McGuire, Training and Education Command.

The commandant wanted something that would complement the physical fitness program and test a Marine's readiness in an operational environment, McGuire said. All of the events are linked to common combat tasks every Marine has been exposed to regardless of military occupation.

"These are the things all Marines should expect to do in combat," said Pfc. Ashley L. Pett, a supply clerk with Weapons Training Battalion who participated in CFT trials at Quantico. "We are all going to be out there just like the grunts, doing things they typically do."

Various groups, including veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, helped shape the CFT by describing their experiences in the Long War.

"We wanted the events to directly reflect the input of our combat vets," McGuire said.

While officials with Training and Education Command have determined a minimum and maximum grading scale, an appropriate point system, similar to the physical fitness test, has yet to be finalized.

The CFT will be a semi-annual requirement for active-duty Marines and an annual requirement for reserve Marines; however, a CFT and a PFT shall not be run on the same day. Each event will be scored and timed separately. Male and female Marines will perform the same tasks, but will be graded on different scales.

"The CFT and PFT are the perfect combination," said Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, sergeant major for Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps.

By implementing the CFT, Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent hopes Marines will become well-rounded in both areas instead of just training to the PFT.

"For those who tested it, from the 18-year-old to the 60-year-old Marine, all of them think this is a great thing to do," Kent said. "It's challenging, but I'm confident that every Marine will pass."

In addition to the CFT, body-fat standards will also change. Marines with a first-class score will no longer be afforded a four-percent leniency to body-fat composition as previously standardized.

"Tendencies toward increased weight have become a dangerous trend over the last decade in our American society," Conway said in ALMAR 033/08. "But Marines are different. Even during a period of conflict, we hold ourselves to a higher standard and we must, all of us, maintain that standard."

Under the new order, a Marine's military appearance will be assessed by the individual's command. If a Marine is thought to have the appearance of an unbalanced body weight distribution, they will be subject to an evaluation of their military appearance at the battalion or squadron level following a commander's assessment.

To assist Marines in complying with the new standards, a combat conditioning program will also be put in place. As part of the program, units will have combat-conditioning instructors, certified by the Martial Arts Center of Excellence, who will serve as command subject-matter experts.

"Throughout our 232-year history, the Marine Corps has fulfilled commitments to make Marines and win our nation's battles," said Conway. "Our fellow Americans recognize that long tradition and expect it to continue. As a fighting force, our ability to fulfill this commitment and accomplish the mission is dependent, in part, upon the fitness of our Marines."

A video of the CFT, layout diagrams and other materials can be found at www.tecom.usmc.mil.

The minimum standards for the CFT under the pass or fail grading will be as follows:

Male

Age             880-yard run    Ammo lifts      Maneuver under fire

17-26           3:48               45              3:29

27-39           4:00               45              3:55

40-45           4:19               44              3:57

46+              4:30              43              4:28

Female

Age             880-yard run    Ammo lifts      Maneuver under fire

17-26           4:34               20              4:57

27-39           4:40               21              5:27

40-45           5:09               17              6:07

46+              5:20              15              6:30

In October 2009, the CFT will be graded on a scale similar to that of the PFT. Here are the projected standards to achieve a perfect score:

Male

Age             880-yard run    Ammo lifts      Maneuver under fire

17-26           2:45               91                  2:14

27-39           2:51               97                  2:14

40-45           3:03               87                  2:34

46+              3:05              86                  3:05

Female

Age              880-yard run   Ammo lifts      Maneuver under fire

17-26           3:23               60                  3:01

27-39           3:19               53                  3:05

40-45           3:49               45                  3:40

46+              4:12              38                  4:20

The standards under the new BCP will be as follows:

Age       17-26            27-39            40-45             45+

Male      18 percent     19 percent     20 percent      21 percent

Female  26 percent     27 percent     28 percent      29 percent

Demonstrations of the new CFT:

MCB Quantico, Va.                           Aug. 20-22

MCAS Miramar, Calif.                       Aug. 25

MCB Camp Pendleton, Calif.              Aug. 26

MCAGCC Twentynine Palms, Calif.     Aug. 28

MCAS Yuma, Ariz.                            Sept. 4

MCB Hawaii - Camp Smith                Sept. 8-9

MCB Hawaii - Kaneohe Bay               Sept. 10-11

MCB Japan                                      Sept. 15-19

Marine Forces Reserve, La.               Oct. 6-10

MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C.                  Oct. 27-28

MCAS New River, N.C.                      Oct. 29

MCAS Cherry Point, N.C.                   Oct. 30-31


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