Navy Changes Fitness Rules – Thousands Now Eligible to Stay in Service

By Faye Higbee

The Navy has issued new fitness rules that would allow sailors a “clean slate”  as of March 31 if they have a fitness failure on their record. The commands were instructed to “stop discharging sailors for fitness failures and to cancel any pending discharges.” There are approximately 48,000 service members with fitness failures. But it isn’t as “lax” as it sounds.

The PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment) will still grade sailors and officers on push-ups, sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run based on their age.  The two part test consists of Body Composition and Readiness components.

Previously, the Navy required that a sailor would have to be discharged prematurely if they had 2 fitness failures on their record within a 3 year period. In 2015, they eased the body fat rules while tightening the failure consequences.

Under the new rules, sailors will be given a “clean slate” if they were being discharged for fitness failures before March 31, and will have until Feb 1 to notify their commands that they’d like to stay in the service. Officers in the same situation have to ask Navy Personnel Command to reverse the decision and the final word will be issued by Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer.

Sailors whose enlistment is up between Jan 1 and June 30 and couldn’t re-enlist because of bad fitness performance are being given a “one-time pass” until September 30.

Not as lax as you think

The Navy Times reported,

A key new requirement is that all sailors transferring to a new command will get a Body Composition Assessment, or BCA, within five days of reporting to a new command. Those who fail will be immediately enrolled in their new command’s Fitness Enhancement Program, or FEP, until they pass an official PFA cycle.

The new policy also dictates that sailors failing a PFA won’t be eligible for advancement or frocking, and will be required to participate in their command’s Fitness Enhancement Program until they pass an official PFA cycle. Those selected for advancement in this status will have any pending advancements held up.

Eligibility for advancement can be reinstated by passing a “command-directed monthly FEP mock PFA,” the new rules state. Sailors will have to stay in the FEP, however, until passing the next official PFA.

The more serious consequences will be reserved for those who fail two consecutive PFAs.

Back to back PFA failures still cause severe issues.  It will prompt a mandatory fitness evaluation, and will note any issues. Though they won’t be immediately discharged and can serve out their enlistment time, they’ll have to stay in the Fitness Enhancement Program for the duration until they pass the PFA.  Guaranteed that an FEP is not a program of doughnut eating and TV watching.

Officers in that situation will still be processed for separation, but won’t be bumped until their next rotation. The only way to get  back in good standing is to pass a PFA – and their command will have to send in the proper paperwork to have the separation halted.

Featured phot- US Navy