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Fit to Fight - are you ready?

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- On your mark. Get set. Go! These are the words we hear during the fitness test. Are you ready to take the test? Are you physically prepared for the rigors of combat?

As warriors we should all be in the best shape because we can be called on to deploy at a moment's notice. Down range isn't the time to realize that you're not ready. Look at the words - Fit To Fight. Can you withstand the rigors of the heat, gear or mental stresses of deployment? Being in shape helps you focus on the mission instead of looking for that next breath of air. At Goodfellow our mission is to help you to get in shape and be Fit to Fight.

It's been a month since the implementation of the new Air Force Fitness standards and the test results are notable. Let's review the major areas of the Air Force Fitness standard. There are still four components for scoring: aerobic, abdominal circumference, push-ups and sit-ups. In years past, any Airman who failed one component of the fitness assessment could still pass as long as his cumulative test score was at least 75, however, failing in any one component under the new standard results in an overall "poor" rating, regardless of the cumulative composite score. Remember, the total of all four minimum components doesn't add up to 75 points.

To ensure consistency in the new fitness program, the Air Force established fitness assessment cells with two full-time testers. Goodfellow's FAC members are trained to conduct a standardized test to assess the fitness of our Airmen. These members, and only these members, are allowed to give or supervise the test for our Airmen.

Under the new fitness test, the aerobics component is now worth 60 points instead of 50 and the abdominal circumference has changed to 20 from 30. Both push-ups and sit-ups have remained at 10 points each. Again, the biggest change is that members must meet a minimum score on each component, which providies a more accurate overall fitness assessment.

What else does failing the fitness test effect? Previous failure considerations allowed four fitness assessment failures, but with the new policy that number is potentially brought down to two. Failures bring with them ineligibility for promotions and an increase in separations. While the new testing standards improve the fitness of the force, many members fear it will also cause an increased failure rate. Goodfellow's original failure rate was 17 percent under the old standard. The current testing results show 27.6 percent. We need to focus and recommit ourselves to be Fit to Fight. As a team, we aren't going there.

All Airmen, officers and enlisted, need to be mindful of the struggles these changes bring. Leaders must have open, direct dialogue with subordinates concerning the ramifications of failing fitness standards. Although the new policy has put the responsibility on the member and no longer requires commanders to provide PT time, I strongly encourage having a mandatory squadron exercise period that puts the members in a training mode of not trying to pass the test, but gaining fitness for current operations and more importantly a lifetime of healthy living.

The effectiveness of this new program has yet to be spoken for, however, it can be seen as a major improvement in the Air Force's steps towards maintaining a superior fighting force and providing for a lifetime of healthy living. Overall, this program can greatly improve our effectiveness as we execute the Air Force mission. I know that the FAC's and members of the 17th FSS are here to support and ensure that the men and women of Team Goodfellow are ready, willing and able to execute the mission. However, the question remains: Fit To Fight, are you ready?