U.S. Army officers are held to the same minimum fitness standards as Army enlisted soldiers. The reasoning behind these fitness requirements is the Army's desire to ensure all soldiers and officers are physically fit and prepared for active duty. In the field, Army officers may need to run distances or carry heavy equipment and comrades.
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The U.S. Army administration realized the importance of monitoring and improving soldiers' levels of physical fitness during the Korean War. During the early part of this war, U.S. soldiers were physically unprepared for tasks such as carrying military equipment or wounded comrades. In short, the U.S. Army performed disastrously in the early days of the war, which highlighted the importance of Army training in physical fitness for officers and other soldiers.
Officers in the U.S. Army are required to run two miles within a certain time limit. The time limit allowed is determined by an officer's gender and age. For example, a female officer who is 28 years old must complete the two-mile run in 20 minutes and 30 seconds or less. A certain number of push-ups and sit-ups -- again, differentiated by age and gender -- must each be completed within one minute.
An Army officer's physical fitness is evaluated twice every year with the Army Physical Fitness Test. The APFT consists of the run, sit-ups and push-ups tests outlined above. An officer must meet the requirements of all three sections of the test in order to achieve a passing score.
Army officers, like all soldiers, are also required to meet certain requirements concerning body composition. These standards vary according to height, gender and age. For example, the permitted weight range for a male Army officer between the ages of 17 and 20 -- with a height of 5 foot 10 inches -- is between 132 and 180 lbs. If an officer is over the maximum permitted weight, she may instead have her body fat measured to ascertain whether this value is within permitted standards.
The Army Field Manual cautions against physical training that progresses too quickly or too slowly, or is inconsistently applied. The Army emphasizes that continued, steady training is needed to meet the fitness requirements for an officer. Officers overseeing physical training are warned to be mindful of the different physical capabilities of male and female soldiers, and to train in a positive manner. Ridicule and punishment exercise are discouraged in Army fitness training.