OKINAWA, Japan - "Marines who are not physically fit are a detriment and detract from the combat readiness of their unit."
These words come from the opening chapter of Marine Corps Order P6100.13 with change 1, the order governing the Corps’ physical fitness program.
In addition to explaining the purpose and conduct of the Corps’ physical fitness, the order also serves as the source document for the conduct of the recently instituted Combat Fitness Test.
In July, Marine Corps personnel transitioned into their CFT season and many people throughout Okinawa may have noticed there are many more Marines doing physical training in boots and utilities. According to the order, Marines have until the end of the calendar year to have a CFT score entered in the Marine Corps Total Forces System.
"The CFT consists of three events," said Cpl. Antonio D. Miranda, Battalion Training Non-Commissioned Officer, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler. "The first event is the movement to contact, which is an 880-yard run for time."
This event is designed to test endurance and a Marine’s ability to engage the enemy in combat and is run in camouflage trousers and boots, said Miranda.
"The second event is the [ammunition can] lift," he said. This part is a two-minute, maximum repetition event where you lift a 30-pound (ammunition) can from your chin until your arms are locked, he added.
This portion is designed to test a Marine’s upper-body strength and endurance which is important because it tests the muscles that a Marine would use if they were carrying ammunition cans to resupply other Marines in a combat situation, Miranda added.
The third and final part is the maneuver under fire, Miranda said. The event requires Marines to sprint 25 yards after getting up from the prone position, and performing a "J" hook around a cone. The participant then performs a 10-yard high crawl, followed by a modified high crawl for 15 yards. Marines will then negotiate a serpentine of five cones, where a simulated casualty waits to be rescued.
After dragging the casualty to a simulated concealed location, the Marine then performs a fireman’s carry and runs 65 yards back to the starting position, Miranda explained.
After participants reach the start line, they put down the casualty and sprint another 50 yards with two 30-pound ammunition cans and negotiate around five cones covering 25 yards until they reach a simulated grenade pit. Here, Marines ground both cans, throw a dummy grenade and complete three push-ups as fast as possible.
Marines complete the test by picking up both ammo cans and negotiating between cones for another 25 yards, and finish with a 50-yard sprint, he added. This portion is designed to simulate a Marine running from cover to resupply their squad, while making themselves a harder target for the enemy.
"The CFT helps prepare Marines for what they would encounter if they get deployed to Afghanistan or any other hostile environment," said Miranda. "They should be ready for the CFT at all times. As Marines we should always be prepared because we never know when we are going to get deployed or be in the line of danger."
In addition, if a Marine gets hit during an engagement, they are going to have to be carried out of danger and cared for, said Miranda. The CFT simulates that by requiring Marines to carry a simulated casualty two different ways throughout the course.
In order to remain prepared, Marines should participate in consistent physical training, said Miranda.
In fact, the order provides specific guidance on how to develop combat fitness regimen’s that will help Marines obtain better results.
The order requires Marines perform at least five combat conditioning sessions of 30 minutes duration, per week. This requirement can be satisfied through combining organizational and individual combat conditioning program participation with the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, Marine Corps Water Survival Training, or other mission/operational specific training.
"When we start training Marines for the CFT, we tell them to train for the unknown," said Neil A. Roberts, athletic director with Semper Fit. "It is better to prepare for a wide assortment of activities versus just running or lifting ammo cans. This builds your all around agility, endurance and speed in multiple areas of fitness," he added.
Marine Corps Community Services offers a variety of resources through Semper Fit to enhance the development of organizational combat conditioning programs. These programs, such as "Warrior Training," provide fitness classes that give Marines the means to achieve the practical fitness required to excel at the CFT.
It is important to be ready for the CFT because the scores that Marines earn affect their careers, he added.
Master Sgt. Stanley Lingham, Headquarters & Service Battalion operations chief, said Marines’ proficiency and conduct scores, composite scores, fitness reports, and chances at any meritorious board could be affected by CFT scores.
"It gives you an idea of how strong Marines are as far as fitness is concerned," said Lingham. "You may not get to see the Marine standing in front of you, but looking at that score can give you a mental image of a Marine.
The scoring system for the CFT, which was finalized last year, varies depending on age and gender, said Miranda. For more information on how the scoring system works Marines can refer to MCO P6100.13w/CH 1, or by using the "tools" section on Marine Online.