The U.S. Navy’s Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) is getting a makeover.
A set of changes to the PFA policy will make it more difficult for sailors to fail the test, but will reduce the amount of chances a sailor has to fail the test before getting booted.
“As opposed to a system that was punitive in nature….this program is designed to talk and incentivise about better health for sailors and not be a test on a pass/fail basis,” said Vice Adm. Bill Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel, in a U.S. Navy video on the subject.
The Navy released an update to its Physical Readiness Program (PRP) on Aug. 3, but several changes will take effect starting on Jan. 1, 2016.
The changes are meant to take a broader, more flexible look at what it means to be healthy and in good physical shape. That meant taking into account the fact that the Navy has more women than ever before and adjusting for different body types and the type of work done on ships and in the Navy, said Moran.
One noticeable change in the new outlines allow for more leeway when it comes to body fat. The body fat percentage standards will now take into account a service member’s age and increase as a sailor gets older.
A Body Composition Assessment (BCA) methodology update means a sailor who is cleared to take part in the physical readiness test (PRT) will take part regardless of their BCA results.
A sailor will have three ways he or she can pass the BCA: by applying a current height/weight table to a sailor, by using a single-site abdominal circumference measurement and by meeting the maximum body fat limit of 26 percent for males or 36 percent for females. Men and women will have stricter standards, outlined here.
The number of failures a sailor can have before they are given administrative separation will decrease starting Jan. 1 from three in four years to two in three years.
“We think that a lot of sailors get lost in the three and four year policy we have today in between tours, because that’s a long period of time,” said Moran.
However, any sailor that has already been given administrative separation, approved or pending, will be given a second chance during the transition period so long as they pass the PFA by Dec. 1, 2015.
Current PFA rules have maximum body fat percentages and minimum physical readiness scores, but do not look at a sailor’s overall health or take into account how technical jobs with the Navy have become or the sea duty challenges, according to a press release from the Navy.
The PFA has been a past source of controversy.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus compared it to a twice-a-year crucible in a speech last May at the Naval Academy, according to the Navy Times, where sailors go to extreme measures to pass the test.
In the future, sailors may see a new, Navy-wide healthy eating plan put together by a registered dietitian, an enhanced SHIPSHAPE, better support for post-partum sailors, the potential introduction of a wearable fitness device to keep track of health on a day-by-day or month-by-month basis and re-instating PRT category scoring.
For further details on the changes, click here.