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In response to the March 19 letter “Being fit helps you survive”: I believe (and feel almost everyone will be in agreement with me on this) this problem isn’t the PT standards or the weight control standards themselves, but rather how they are enforced when used in concert.

An individual can have the physical appearance of being in shape but fail the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) and still receive an award. Another individual can pass and, in some cases, “max” the APFT but fail the weight control standards and be barred from any awards — awards that, in some cases, are well-deserved. Can you just imagine if then-Spc. Salvatore Giunta [who later received the Medal of Honor] was a weightlifter and didn’t spend enough time in the gym to do the needed neck exercises to fatten up his neck so he could pass [the] tape [test]?

Simply put, if you pass the APFT, it stops there. There are no weight control flags, period. You passed.

The other issue is just because one can pass both the APFT and the weight control standards doesn’t not make him a superior soldier. Ask that 5-foot-6, 10-mile-a-day runner PT stud to go pick up the .50-caliber weapon and hoof it 800 meters to the next building. Then ask that 6-foot-3, 240-pound PT failure to do the same and let me know who gets there first.

Those who argue “standards are standards and, if you can’t meet the standards, get out.” are those who are the 5-foot-6, 10-mile-a-day runners. They desperately try to defend the current APFT system only because they will look like hypocrites when they complain about the new standards after they fail the APFT for the first time while those 6-foot-3, 240-pound PT failures they have looked down on all this time are now passing that new test that they cannot.

Sgt. Richard M. Rizza

Camp Buehring, Kuwait

Iraq complex not always quiet

In Michael G. Cummings’ March 21 column “On 2nd deployment, I didn’t deserve combat pay,” he states that he believes he did not deserve his combat pay for serving on Victory Base Complex in Iraq. All the amenities he lists in his column were on VBC when I was there in 2007. While I was there, VBC was rocketed daily! And this is while we were in that large, illustrious dining facility, and post exchange and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility.

Just because VBC was safe while Cummings was there does not mean it will be next week.

I applaud Cummings’ service in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in 2007. And the location I am at in Afghanistan is nowhere near as kinetic as a lot of forward operating bases. However, I would not once say that I or my fellow soldiers, sailors and airmen do not deserve our combat incentives. If Cummings really believes he doesn’t deserve it, he should figure out the whole amount he made extra and donate it to charity.

Staff Sgt. Paul D. Williams Jr.

Forward Operating Base Shinwar, Afghanistan


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