Feb 20, 2023
Navy Gets Rid of Failed Fitness Tests


Navy sailors who have a failed physical fitness assessment on their record will receive a clean slate — allowing them to remain in the service.

The new Navy policy, unveiled late last week, is part of a Navy-wide campaign aimed at improving accessions, retention, and attrition so the service can hit its end-strength goals for the year.

A recent story from The Navy Times highlighted the reasoning for getting rid of its failing fitness tests.

Below is an excerpt from The Navy Times article.

“This is connected because it clearly affects attrition, right? It will reduce attrition if we do not separate sailors based on past PFA failures,” Rear Adm. James Waters III, director of military personnel, told reporters Wednesday. “But it came about through all of the analysis for this campaign plan, through a recognition that we don’t want to punish sailors because gyms were closed during the pandemic. We don’t want to disadvantage sailors.”

The policy, which the Navy labeled a “one-time reset,” means all active duty sailors and those in the Navy Reserve who want to remain in the Navy and advance will now have zero PFA failures prior to 2023, allowing commanding officers to reinstate retention and advancement recommendations. The policy does not apply to other programs that evaluate past PFA failures, including officer commissioning programs, selection or screening boards, and special duty screenings.

The Career Progression Department will stop processing officers for administrative separation due to past PFA failures. For enlisted personnel, their command will issue a special evaluation to restore retention and advancement eligibility, according to a naval administrative message.

“We expect this reset to balance challenges sailors had in preparing for and completing physical fitness assessments throughout the pandemic and also allow experienced and talented sailors to remain in the Navy,” Waters said. “We think this reset could allow up to 1,500 sailors to remain in the service who might otherwise be separated. Requirements and standards remain constant.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the Navy conducting a single PFA each calendar year, rather than two. Waters said there is no plan currently to resume two PFAs in FY24.

The Navy surpassed its retention goals for FY22 and is currently ahead on retention goals this fiscal year. The service met its active duty enlisted recruitment goals in FY22, but failed to meet recruitment target numbers for active duty and reserve officers, as well as reserve enlisted personnel.

To read the full story, click here.