Gung hold on! Marines to face new fitness requirements

BEAUFORT -- Beaufort Marines will soonbe subjected to a new Corps-approved physical fitness test described as "challenging, but attainable."

The Corps' new combat fitness test begins Oct. 1 at all Marine bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Portions of the test will be part of recruit conditioning at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, but recruits will not take the test until they report to the School of Infantry at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Gone are the push-ups, crunches and distance runs of the former physical fitness test in favor of exercises designed to measure skills used by Marines in war.

"This isn't a complete overhaul of the (physical fitness test), but rather an enhancement of that test," said Col. Brian McGuire, physical readiness programs officer at Marine Corps Training and Education Command in Quantico, Va. "We re-engineered some aspects of the physical fitness test to meet the demands of the combat environment."

The new test has three legs: an 880-yard run; an ammo-can lift in which a Marine must lift a 30-pound ammo can as many times as possible in two minutes; and a 300-yard obstacle course, where Marines maneuver through a series of cones, haul a mock casualty using two different carries and sprint 50 yards while holding two 30-pound ammo cans.

"It's challenging, but attainable," McGuire said.

Part of Commandant Gen. James Conway's push for a leaner Corps, the combat fitness test was tested at Marine installations across the country from January to June to get feedback and record performance data, McGuire said.

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort was one of the combat test sites, where members of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 and Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 gave it a test drive.

When the test is implemented, it will be taken by Marines on a pass-fail basis. Their times will be measured against others their age and gender. Those standards, McGuire said, were developed during the months of nationwide testing.

"We got a pretty large data set from that testing, and it represents a fairly large mosaic of the Corps," he said.

Starting in October 2009, the test will be scored and factored into cutting scores, which means that a poor performance on the test could affect a Marine's promotions.