FORT GORDON, Ga. — The Army has toiled for years to create a new body composition program that reflects soldiers' modern physical requirements, though a common complaint is the poor accuracy of the current tape measurement test used to calculate body fat.
One sergeant major, however, is sick of all the complaining, and claims the tape test is perfectly fine.
"Soldiers love whining," said Sgt. Maj. Ryan Starky. "You can change the fitness standards all you want, and they'll just find a new way to whine about that too."
Standing six-feet-tall with a 45-inch waist, 39-year-old Sgt. Maj. Starky is considered abdominally obese by medical standards. But thanks to a bulging 22-inch neck circumference and tape test favoring larger necks, he's considered in compliance for his age category.
"He breaks into a sweat when he's signing forms," said one soldier on the condition of anonymity. "It's probably why nothing ever gets signed around here."
Spc. Steven Kovacs scored a perfect 300 on his last Army physical fitness test. At 5'7" and 170-pounds, the 21-year-old with a 36-inch waist and 14.5-inch neck was considered 1% over the body fat limit. He's currently in the Army's weight control program.
"I like weightlifting and doing cardio," said Kovacs. "I finished my two-mile run in under 13 minutes, and Sgt. Maj. Starky? He didn't even run. He's on a walking profile."
During a follow-up interview at the local Circle K, where Starkey was purchasing his usual hot dog and polar pop for his mid-morning snack, reporters pressed him on whether Spc. Kovacs' APFT results highlighted the conflicting standards.
"Look, there are no conflicting standards," Starky said. "Because there's just one standard...the army standard."