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Air Force announces PT test enhancements to start Oct. 1

Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, runs on a pathway along Heritage Hill April 19 as part of her daily routine. Revisions to the Air Force fitness programs take effect July 1, 2010. These modifications, improvements, and upgrades will bring about some of the most significant changes to fitness standards in the last five years and shift a greater level of responsibility for maintaining year-round physical fitness to all Airmen. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Abner Guzman)

Air Force PT test enhancements take effect Oct. 1, 2013. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Abner Guzman)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force senior leadership announced enhancements to the Air Force's Physical Fitness Assessment program, to be implemented Oct. 1.

In a letter to Airmen Aug. 20, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III explained the results of the comprehensive review, highlighting the strength of the program and the need for slight improvements.

"We have a tremendous program that has fundamentally changed the Air Force's overall fitness level over the past few years," Welsh said. "The PFT itself is not going to change. But even the best program can be improved upon, so we are making changes in four different areas to enhance the overall program."

Of the changes coming Oct. 1, the most significant is to the abdominal circumference portion of the test. The AC assesses an Airman's body composition.

Since the Air Force implemented the newest fitness program guidelines in October 2010, only .03 percent of Airmen have failed the AC portion of the test and passed the other three components with a composite score of 75 or higher.

"In the future, if an Airman fails the AC portion of the test, and passes each of the other three components, we'll measure that Airman using the Body Mass Index taping guidance in DoD instructions," Welsh said. "If the Airman meets the DoD BMI standard, they pass the PFT."

Because AC measurement is integrated into the testing procedure, the Air Force is currently the only branch of the Department of Defense not required to have a separate weight management program.

The other program modifications include realigning the fitness appeal process back to wing commanders, adjusting passing standards for Airmen who can only test on one component of assessment, and changing and simplifying the walk test.

In addition to these efforts, senior leaders are reviewing how fitness performance is documented on performance reports as part of a larger effort to examine the performance report itself. Those results are expected in the near future.

Though senior leaders are looking to improve the current fitness program, Welsh said he is proud of the Air Force program, and the physically fit culture it has helped to cultivate.

"I believe we have DoD's best designed, best run fitness program, and as a result, we have a force ready for any mission our nation asks us to execute," he said. "I'm extremely proud of how far we've come with our fitness culture."