SAN ANTONIO, TX – In an unprecedented maneuver, the United States Air Force has decided to modify its Physical Training Test to include taping under stomach folds during the waist measurement portion of the test. The move comes after years of complaints alluding to sexual harassment, unfair testing, and improper measurements.
“Truth is,” says Senior Master Sergeant Harry Shneidman, a physical medicine specialist, “most airmen these days have some type of abdominal pouch.”
The old regulation stated that the “tester will locate the measurement landmark immediately above the right uppermost hip bone (superior border of the iliac crest) at the side of the body vertically in line with the right armpit (midaxillary line). If desired, Airmen may assist the tester in locating the measurement landmark by resting the right hand on the hip, using rearward facing right thumb to locate the iliac crest.”
Many airman have been confused that the wording of these directions alludes to large stomachs being the so called "measurement landmark."
“I literally had one airman turn to me and ask: Do you want me to flip it up?” said Senior Airman Cassie Hebowitz, a physical training leader (PTL) at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. “The airman taking her PT test was a mother of three and just never lost the baby weight. I did not know how to interpret the regulations so I just told her no, and proceeded to tape over the fold."
"She was mad afterward, but I told her there was no way I was going to even try to tape underneath that thing.”
This situation has become common place, as thousands of PTLs have been reporting fold taping issues. Even the highest levels of Air Force leadership have gotten involved.
Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III commented at his recent swearing in that, “the eradication of stomach folds will be one of my top priorities as the Air Force’s top leader.”
Secretary Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey were somewhat stunned at the comment given other top priorities for the Air Force, such as the flight safety of the F-22, and the war in Afghanistan.
One anonymous airman stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany says the new regulation provides much needed relief.
“German beer is heavy, and even though I PT twice a week, I’ve put at least 7 inches on around my waist and have a fold that hangs at least 3 inches over my belt now. Knowing they will just tape under my stomach gives me a little breathing room, and to be honest, will boost my self-esteem while still allowing me to enjoy the local brew when off duty.”
Other airmen disagree.
“If a person has a fold, they should just continue to tape over it. I mean it’s fit to fight, not fit to drink!” said Technical Sergeant Chris Vajeeja.
The new ‘under the fold’ PT regulation will go into effect in October for fiscal year 2013.