MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Command Chief Master Sergeant of Pacific Air Forces David Popp knows his numbers.

To achieve the maximum score in his category on the Air Force’s new fitness test, he’ll have to run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes and 47 seconds or less, perform 47 crunches and 40 push-ups in one minute each and maintain a trim 32.5-inch waistline.

“That’s my goal. I know what I need to do to get there,” Popp said Friday during a visit to this northern Japan base.

As the Air Force prepares to unveil tougher fitness standards come Jan. 1, Popp is urging all airmen in Pacific Air Forces to get in shape — smartly.

“Injury-free is the key,” he said. “We’re asking people who are in shape now to pick somebody and help them get into shape.”

To that end, the Air Force is creating the position of unit fitness monitor within each squadron, Popp said. That person will help individuals set up exercise routines, provide advice on wellness and track members’ fitness progress for the squadron commander.

The new standards represent a change in Air Force culture and philosophy, Popp said. “It’s not about passing the test,” he said. “We’re doing it for the team. The theme is we fight as a team, we’re going to get prepared and we’re going to be ready as a team … to make sure everyone is fit for the fight.”

In bike test and weigh-in days — ways the Air Force used to measure fitness — the focus was on the individual, Popp said. To get in shape, GIs were on their own. Now, PACAF squadron commanders are required to set duty time aside for fitness, Popp said.

PACAF Commander Gen. William Begert “has charged squadron commanders to determine when they’re going to do their fitness time and where,” Popp said, adding that from the headquarters building in Hawaii, “it’s very hard to dictate what’s going to happen.”

The first airmen could test as soon as Jan. 1, when the new standards take effect, but Popp said commanders will have flexibility when setting test dates.

“Here at Misawa we’re limited by space because of weather conditions,” he said. “Commanders will have to figure that out, how they’re going to make that work and when they’re going to test people.”

Popp said airmen can expect to see an increased focus on wellness and nutrition in coming months at PACAF bases. Squadron commanders may conduct briefings on healthy eating with guest speakers; base dining facilities, from clubs to break rooms, will begin to highlight more nutritious foods. Popp also agreed base fast-food options need to be examined.

“I think you’ll see more highlights, ‘This is the healthy choice,’” he said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t eat the other things but if you’re there and you’re concerned about it, ‘Maybe if I eat at Popeye’s three times a week, maybe two times a week I ought to’” choose more healthy selections.

As part of a brief swing through Air Force bases in Japan, Popp visited with Misawa airmen Friday; he was to head to Yokota Air Base near Tokyo over the weekend.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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