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Fitness Assessment Cell: Not the bad guys you’ve been warned about

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- After sixteen years of wearing a diamond on my chevron, almost ten years as a chief, and three years with the coolest job on the planet (just ask Chief McCarthy) as the command chief for the Gunfighters, I now find myself in an actual position of POWER! As one of the three civilian Physical Fitness Assessment Testers for the Gunfighters.

I came to work my first day a little bit in shock of just how important the test is for the career of every active-duty member. Back in the Flintstone days of my career (I retired in 2008), we talked a good game that fitness would become important one day and that day has certainly arrived.

I jest about the position of 'power,' but for every Airman in uniform, it is imperative you take the subject of your physical fitness seriously. Please take a look in the mirror and tell yourself that no matter how good you are at your mission and no matter how good you look in your uniform, if you can't pass your PT test, now much more than at any other time in the history of our service, you may be looking at separation and another line of work.

Take this piece of your career puzzle as seriously as any Professional Military Education, upgrade training, or certification. To pass all components of the assessment takes work and those who feel they can come out and beat themselves up for an hour and a half and be good to go for six months are finding out they have to put some effort and preparation into the assessment to pass. Check the minimum and maximum charts in AFI 36-2905 for your gender and age group ... not the day of your test, but six months prior to testing and then work toward your goals. Don't just work toward minimum standards because if you have minimum scores in all four components, your total composite score could be below the passing grade.

Practice what you will perform ... proper push-ups, sit-ups, and 1.5 mile run. Don't run three miles a day to run a mile and a half assessment. Don't cheat yourself on push-ups and sit-ups in your daily routine (yes, I said daily) and then not do them properly for your assessment or not be able to do enough properly because your lack of preparation and effort did not provide you the strength to do enough. Work on your nutrition and diet for a healthy living plan. Practice all components because a failure in one component, means an overall failure of your assessment.

The program now has the sharp teeth that we have been talking about for years and it is not going away. Timing is everything and when you are testing twice per year (if you don't get an excellent), timing always seems to be that you have a deployment, TDY, leave, promotion test, EPR or OPR in the wings which may be effected by your fitness assessment outcome.

How many people ever dreamed of not meeting a standard and it being documented on their performance report when they are otherwise a stellar Airman?

I do not want to sugar coat it, because that is where we are now. With proper preparation you don't have to worry about it happening to you. If you are not researching your requirements for the assessment and scheduling time to work out for your assessment, you are not acting on your responsibility to be combat ready to deploy and the results, in a very short time frame, can be that you no longer have a career.

Although it sounds as if I am trying to be a tough guy and scare you, the reality is the Fitness Assessment Cell (FAC) never wants to see a Gunfighter fail ... we need you to be prepared and in control for a successful outcome. Commanders, chiefs, first sergeants, unit physical fitness monitors, physical training leaders, and supervisors (military and civilian) at all levels, please climb on the fitness train before it rolls over you or your warriors. Know that this important program is designed to keep your Airmen healthy and alive, at home and in a combat zone. As an individual, know that even with those important leaders and role models mentioned above, it is YOUR individual responsibility to be physically fit and fit to fight. You can take a promotion test, not get promoted and still have a career for several years, but you won't have those same results by failing your fitness assessment.

The FAC and the Health and Wellness Center (HAWC) are here to assist you. We want to see every Gunfighter succeed. Drop by with your comments and questions and we promise to do whatever we can to help you with your healthy lifestyle that is important while you continue to serve and long after your separation or retirement. Fit to fight, fit for life!