CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marines here agree the Corps’ new combat fitness test is demanding.
"It’s challenging, but it’s a good course. It tests us more in endurance than our regular [physical fitness test]," said Staff Sgt. Ruben Aguilar, a Headquarters and Service Battalion Marine who consistently scores 300 on the semiannual physical fitness test.
Aguilar, 33, from Homestead, Fla., ran the CFT on Tuesday during a demonstration at Camp Foster.
Officials from the Training and Education Command, based in Quantico, Va., were on Okinawa last week to showcase the new combat fitness test before heading to mainland Japan to demonstrate the test at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on Monday.
About a year ago, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway ordered the development of a new test to assess Marines’ functional combat fitness.
"As our combat vets have told us, physical demands in combat are anaerobic," said Col. Brian McGuire, the command’s Physical Readiness Program officer. "This test uses those short bursts of anaerobic activity."
The test is broken into three segments — movement to contact, ammunition lift and maneuver under fire.
In movement to contact, the 880-yard sprint simulates the dash from cover to a contact point. The tasks in the maneuver-under-fire portion also uses combat skills, McGuire said, including a high crawl, zig-zagging sprint, grenade toss, buddy drag, fireman’s carry and traversing 75 yards carrying two 30-pound ammo cans.
The test will be a semiannual requirement for active-duty Marines and an annual requirement for reservists, according to the Marine Corps’ Web site.
Starting Oct. 1, it will be phased in as a pass-or-fail event. Beginning October 2009, the test will be scored on a 300-point system, using first-, second- and third-class rankings.
The points needed for each ranking have yet to be decided, though planners have determined the requirements for a perfect score, McGuire said.
Test results will be recorded in Marines’ training records during the phase-in period, but will not figure into Marines’ promotions until 2009 when the grading system is in place, according to All Marine Message 032/08.
Okinawa troops who volunteered to demonstrate the new test last week said they already have plans to adjust their physical training now that they know how demanding it is.
Aguilar said he has a varied workout routine now, but "I’ll be adding more lifts."
After taking the test, Gunnery Sgt. Theresa Chapman, 40, who works at the brig on Camp Hansen, said she’ll be adding more leg work to her workouts because the test is "hardest on your legs." The whole test is draining, but the hardest demands came during maneuver under fire, said Chapman, who scored a 291 on her last physical fitness test.
"The buddy drag, that’s what starts to wear you out, then the fireman’s carry, then the ammo cans," she said. "Marines who have a hard time with the [physical fitness test] will definitely have a hard time with this."
Breaking down the CFT
The combat fitness test is broken into three segments: movement to contact, ammunition lift and maneuver under fire. The segments must be run in this order and each is timed. The movement-to-contact and ammunition-lift segments can be done indoors or outdoors; however, the movement to contact cannot be done on a treadmill. The test is broken down as follows:Movement to contact
Run 880 yards within certain time constraints.
Lift a 30-pound ammo can from shoulder to overhead repetitively for two minutes.
Maneuver under fire
Complete a 300-yard shuttle that includes sprints, high crawls, a buddy drag, fireman’s carry, grenade toss and ammo resupply. It must be completed on a fairly level grassy surface. The course is 100 yards and each lane should be seven feet wide.
To conduct a test, the following items are required:
■ Stopwatch or other timepiece.
■ 100-foot measuring tape.
■ Calibrated scale.
■ Engineer’s tape, chalk or any other item to mark maneuver-under-fire lanes.
■ Eight small cones, pylons, flags, sandbags or any items that can be used as markers.
■ 30-pound M2A1 5.56 mm ammunition cans. These will be filled with sand and water to make up the 30-pound weight.
■ Dummy grenades.
Source: U.S. MarineCorps Order 6100.13