Saturday, October 8, 2011


NMCP PRT start line
On Thursday, I ran my 15th Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) as a United States Navy sailor and my first official PFA as an officer at NMCP. The PFA is how the Navy measures a sailor's state of physical readiness. The PFA has six components:

1.) height
2.) weight
3.) sit and reach (measure of flexibility)
4.) 2 minutes of situps (as many as you can do)
5.) 2 minutes of pushups (as many as you can do_
6.) 1.5 miles run (as fast as you can)

NMCP PRT run course
(blue circle)
The PFA is done twice a year - once in the spring and once in the fall. The maximum scores are broken down in five year age increments, so I currently fall in the 30-34 year age group. Each group you go into requires less from you since it's assumed that with age, your abilities to perform the exercises will decline. My answer to that is to always shoot for the max scores in the age group below mine. My age group requires a 9:20 for the run. I asked the Command Fitness Team who conducted the PFA what the fastest time was from earlier that day. They conduct a PFA every hour from 0700-1100. I went at 1100 because I was in the ER until then. They said that a Commander had the fastest time during the 0700 run with a 9:47. In my mind I thought, "Noted." They asked me if I was planning on beating that and I told them yes. They asked what I was shooting for and I told them sub 9:00. They laughed and one of them rolled their eyes. Again, in my mind, "Laugh clowns."

NMCP finish line
In typical Navy fashion, the order was called. "ReadYYYYY?? BEEEE-gin!!" Eight minutes and 59 seconds later, I crossed the finish line with minimal heavy breathing and was greeted with an offer to be one of the only officers on a mostly enlisted Command Fitness Team. They told me that they're sure some officers somewhere are "on" it, but they never show up and even the other enlisted folks who claim to be on it never come. It looks good on their evaluations, so they sign up.

One of the problems with the current PFA situation is that there is no incentive to do well on it. The highest you can get is now called an "Outstanding". There used to be different divisions of Outstanding. They were broken down into Outstanding High, Outstanding Medium, and Outstanding Low. Next was Excellent High, Excellent Medium, and Excellent Low. This went on for Good and Satisfactory. After a Satisfactory Low, the score was called Probationary. The problem was that, for evaluation purposes, there was no different between an Outstanding High and a Good Medium on the evaluation because as long as you passed the PFA with a Good Low, your evaluation stated, "Passed Within Standards" (PWS). So really...why try? If I could run my hardest or basically speedwalk and get the same thing on my evaluation what's the point in trying? The answer to that question is - absolutely nothing. It's rare that people in the Navy seek out physical fitness, so it's a running joke that sailors run three miles a year - 1.5 in the spring and 1.5 in the fall.

The real name of this fitness
improvement program
is called Ship Shape
So, I'm hoping to get on the Command Fitness Team to help change the way people think about the PFA and about their fitness in general. From chapter 3 in Uniform Regulations on Smartness: "United States Navy personnel must set and maintain the high standards of smartness in uniform ap- pearance. The military image reflected by attention to detail, while wearing your uniforms, is a key element in the public image of the Navy." It's frustrating to see all these people hiding out at the hospital and clearly having people finagle their scores during PFA time. It's really bad amongst the Chief and officer communities. There's no accountability for us. The focus is so much on the E-6 and below that the higher ranking sailors get overlooked and are able to fall between the cracks time after time.

There's been talk of an incentive program in the future for sailors to get an extra ribbon for five consecutive Outstanding PFAs on their record. Hopefully, we can develop more incentive programs at NMCP. In the PFA instruction, it says that Commanders shall: "Promote development and use of incentive awards to encourage maximum levels of fitness and health in individuals and commands." Hopefully, being on the Command Fitness Team will bring about more incentive programs so that we can be a model for other Navy installations.

On a side note, I got lot of compliments about my Brooks ST5 Racers. :)


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