The Coast Guard is keeping a tight lid on the specifics, but a committee tasked with creating a possible servicewide physical training test is expected to report recommendations in mid-April.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt told Navy Times he has performed some of the exercises under consideration, and the test promises to be “explosive.” It will incorporate “high cardio, endurance and strength” exercises, he said.
And leaders haven't ruled out using the test as a pass-fail measure that eventually could lead to poor-performing Coast Guardsmen getting booted from the service.
The Fitness Advisory Committee, which has overseen test development, was initially created to look at a more functional test for Boat Forces and Deployable Specialized Forces, which already have a test, explained Capt. Joel Rebholz, deputy director of the service's Health, Safety and Work-Life Directorate. The committee's mission broadened to finding a servicewide PT test.
Officials are confident a test can be designed that reflects the physical requirements of the Coast Guard mission.
“Once you see the exercises, you'll see that, oh, that does relate to the kind of work you have to do,'” Leavitt said. “I can see the value of [the exercises in] what we do in our everyday job.”
The term “functional exercise” is open to interpretation. Rebholz used a pullup as an example. It could be mission-oriented because Coast Guardsmen should be able to pull themselves up and into a boat, he said. He was just using an example, and pullups may or may not be included in the final test.
There are no separate standards being considered for men and women, Rebholz said, but added that it's too early to make those kinds of decisions.
Leavitt said in September he'd like standards to be the same for men and women, but variable based on age.
The implementation of a new test could be lengthy. Leavitt has mentioned that a pilot program could be in place by the end of the year.
The committee recommendations will have to be reviewed by a list of stakeholders in the Coast Guard, Rebholz said. He declined to specify these leaders, who would have the chance to influence the process.
If any one of them does not agree with the group's recommendations, it could be back to the drawing board, said Chief Public Affairs Specialist C.C. Clayton, public affairs staff assistant to Leavitt.
Another step will be testing the exercises at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Cape May training center in New Jersey.
Coast Guardsmen who already require a PT test include boarding team members and surfmen. Coast Guard Academy applicants must pass a fitness test that includes a 1½-mile run, cadence pushups and situps. Servicewide body composition standards also help ensure a fit force. Those who are overweight, based on Coast Guard height and weight measurements, must also have their body fat measured. A Coastie's body-fat percentage must come in under the maximum allowed body-fat percentages set by ALCOAST 120/12, which also factors in sex and age.
Coast Guardsmen can be dismissed from the service for fitness-related issues under four conditions: if they are 35 pounds over their maximum allowed weight or 8 percent over their maximum allowed body-fat percentage; if they fail to drop the weight after being put on probation; if they fail three consecutive weigh-ins; and if they have to be put on probation three times in a 14-month period.
What exercises do you think should be part of a Coast Guard-wide fitness test? Send an email to email@example.com. Your comments could be used in an upcoming issue.
Staff writer Jacqueline Klimas contributed to this report.