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Soldiers want action against physical fitness test
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 5, 2015) -- Soldiers at the first-ever NCO
Solarium said they felt the Army has gone soft on those who have failed their Army
Physical Fitness Tests, or APFT, too many times - and called for more discipline in
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Ruiz, Headquarters Services Company, U.S. Army North, said
allowing Soldiers, who have repeatedly failed their APFT to stay in the Army is
inconsistent with the idea that physical fitness is important.
"When Soldiers end up being retained, we feel it is a detriment to the unit and other
units, who see that Soldier being retained," Ruiz said. "One of our recommendations
is to remove the commander's ability to decline a separation packet for APFT
Ruiz served as the spokesperson for the physical fitness group during the 2015
NCO Solarium on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. During the Solarium, about 80 NCOs,
from throughout the Army, were tasked to come up with solutions to problems
involving education, Army culture, training, mission command, physical fitness, and
Army vision and branding. Those Soldiers were then asked to brief the sergeant
major of the Army on their findings.
1st Sgt. Robert V. Craft Jr., 1-16 Infantry BN, 1st Infantry BDE, 1st Infantry
Division, Fort Riley, KS was also part of the physical fitness group. He speculated
that the Army was accepting poor performers on the physical fitness test as a way
to retain manpower numbers - something he felt was a bad idea.
"Over the last decade or so ... we have begun to accept substandard performance
in order to make numbers for missions," he said. "By retaining those Soldiers, it
basically leads to a consensus ... that PT [physical training] isn't important, that
being in shape isn't important."
The same rigorous accountability that is applied to those within the Army Body
Composition Program, ought to also be applied to those who fail the Army APFT,
Craft said. AFPT failures could force a separation after a second time, or after a
Soldier has failed within a certain number of years, for instance.
There should also be stricter Army physical fitness standards for those in leader
positions, such as platoon sergeant, first sergeant or commander, Craft said. There
should be stricter standards for those going off to any of the Army's professional
military education, or PME, schools. "Then we are getting the best to go to school,"
Craft said his time as a first sergeant is limited - and often heavily managed. He
said he ends up spending an inordinate amount of time working with Soldiers, who
have failed too many times to meet Army standards. Above his head, he said,
commanders continue to file the paperwork and make the exceptions to keep those
Soldiers in the unit - something he said is not good for the Army.
"I can't fix a Soldier if the Soldier has quit," Craft said. "If the Soldier no longer has
the desire, then get rid of him. I can do more with less [Soldiers], if I no longer have
to worry about the bottom 10 percent."
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey told those NCOs at the Solarium to not
refrain from sending less-than-stellar PT performers to Army PME schools. He said
at an Army PME school, a Soldier cannot hide from the repercussions of failing to
"Send them to school," he said. "We'll take care of them. There should no longer be
the idea that if they no longer make PT, we'll hold them back. Send them. They go
to school. We'll grade them. We'll help you take care of those people. Policy is
going to drive that. When you fail, when you get that referred report in your file,
you're going to be eligible for QMP [Qualitative Management Program] - as you
The QMP is a program that deals with substandard performing Soldiers, and can
remove them from service.
Dailey said Soldiers must meet the standards of being a Soldier the entire time they
are in the Army, and there is no reprieve from the standards.
"There is no pause button on being a Soldier," he said. "So nowhere in the
regulations does it say two or three times you are allowed to be fat. It says you
have to be skinny all the time. You should be graded from the time you enter the
Army until the time you leave. Your peers are graded the same way. Don't hold
them back from school anymore. Send them. We can help with that."