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Air Force Discharges for Physical Fitness Failures Increase

The number of active-duty airmen who have been discharged from the Air Force for not meeting physical training (PT) standards has increased dramatically since 2007.

According to a report in the Air Force Times, the number of discharges jumped from 156 in 2007 to 1,319 so far in 2012. Demotions in the Air Force because of poor physical fitness also have increased as a result, from fewer than 100 in 2007 to 528 last year, the Air Force Times reported. So far this year, 458 demotions have fallen under a general category that includes failure to keep fit, failure to perform and failure to achieve appropriate skill levels for the career field.

PT test score data, obtained by the Air Force Times, show that officers at every major Air Force command are more likely to have an excellent score on their PT tests than enlisted airmen, many of whom, according to one airman, work odd shifts.

“Maintainers and cops are constantly working long and strange hours, while many other squadrons work set hours and can, most of the time, work PT into a routine,” said the airman, who asked not to be identified by the Air Force Times. “Some bases provide 24-hour gyms, some do not.”

The Air Force requires commanders to make discharge or retention recommendations for every airman who has received four failures in a 24-month period, the newspaper reported. More stringent standards were put in place in 2010 when new fitness scoring charts were implemented, along with a minimum score requirement in each fitness component. Airmen also began taking the test every six months instead of every 12 months, unless they achieved a score of 90, the Air Force Times reported.

Officials told the newspaper that the highest the failure rate reached was more than 22 percent. Over the past two years, the failure rate has declined to 5.9 percent, officials say.

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