Arlington, VA — Although the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test (CFT) won't officially be implemented until October 2009, training and education command officials are gearing up to educate installations this fall on the new test. The CFT is intended to keep Marines ready for the physical rigors of contemporary combat operations and will be used in addition to the current physical fitness test (PFT).

Instructors from the Martial Arts Center of Excellence in Quantico, VA, will demonstrate how to conduct the CFT at installations around the world. The new test will be measured by requiring Marines in battle dress uniform to sprint a timed 880 yards, lift a 30-pound ammunition can overhead from shoulder height repeatedly for two minutes and perform a maneuver-under-fire event, which is a timed 300-yard shuttle run in which Marines are paired up by size and perform a series of combat-related tasks.

“The CFT shows that you have to train a whole lot more than just preparing for a three-mile run and 20 pull-ups,” says Lance Cpl. James T. Hammons in a statement from the military. Hammons is a machinist serving with Weapons Training Battalion, which hosted a trial CFT at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA.

Testing will begin with an initial phase-in period, in which grading will be pass or fail, until Sept. 30, 2009. Although Marines' CFT results will be recorded in unit diary reports and fitness reports, they will not count toward performance evaluation until the CFT is officially implemented on Oct. 1, 2009, according to a statement from the Marine Corps.

The CFT will be a semi-annual requirement for active-duty Marines and an annual requirement for reserve Marines. However, a CFT and a standard PFT are not to be performed on the same day, according to the military report. Each event will be scored and timed separately. Male and female Marines will perform the same tasks but will be graded on different scales.

“The CFT and PFT are the perfect combination,” says Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, sergeant major for Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps in Arlington, VA.

By implementing the CFT, Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent hopes Marines will become well-rounded in terms of their fitness training, instead of just training for the PFT.

“For those who tested [the CFT], from the 18-year-old to the 60-year-old Marine, all of them think this is a great thing to do,” Kent says. “It's challenging, but I'm confident that every Marine will pass.”

In addition to the CFT, body-fat standards are changing. Marines with a first-class score will no longer be afforded a four-percent leniency to body-fat composition as was the previous standard.

Under the new standards, a Marine's overall appearance of health will be assessed by the individual's command. If a Marine is thought to have the appearance of an unbalanced body weight distribution, they are subject to an evaluation of their military appearance at the battalion or squadron level following a commander's assessment, according to the statement.