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'No Date' Set for Updating Army's Tape Test for Body Fat: Official

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The U.S. Army's top enlisted soldier is calling a review of the service's long-criticized tape-test policy to measure body fat.

Sgt. Major of the Army Daniel Dailey has requested that the G1 review the method the service uses to determine body-fat composition, commonly known as the tape test policy, according to Master Sgt. Michelle Johnson, a spokeswoman for the SMA. Training and Doctrine Command and Army Medical Command have also been asked to participate in the review.

The policy falls under AR 600-9, the Army's regulation that governs the service's weight control program. Soldiers are screened at least every six months to ensure they meet the prescribed body-fat standard, measured by the circumference-based tape method outlined in the regulation.

"Commanders have the authority to direct a body fat assessment on any soldier that they determine does not present a soldierly appearance, regardless of whether or not the soldier exceeds the screening table weight for his or her measured height," according to the regulation.

Dailey's request for the review, which was previously reported by Army Times, was prompted by solider complaints that the test is not the most accurate method for measuring fitness, Johnson said.

But so far, it's unclear how extensive this review will be or even when it will occur.

The Army G1 provided the following response to Military.com when asked about the SMA's request:

"Army senior leaders continue to shape, review and implement changes to personnel policies to enhance force readiness and resilience. Army offices responsible for the Army Body Composition Program (AR 600-9) perpetually review the regulation to ensure we have the most relevant guidance that ensures the sustainment of our personnel's individual/collective capacities to accomplish the mission.

"Revisions to this regulation were last published in 2013. As a part of the Army publication process, input from Soldiers and leaders are fully considered. Currently, no date has been set for an updated regulation," according to the statement.

When asked further about the review, Army G1 officials said there is not yet a plan in place for such a review.

"Some type of review will be done -- when, how long or when it will be published, that can vary," said Paul Prince, a spokesman for Army G1.

Typically, the Army will review the entire regulation instead of focusing on one small part of it, such as the tape test, Prince said.

"All of our regulations have multiple layers of policy," Prince said. "Rushing a publication with that one piece of guidance is something that we don't routinely do."

The Army, however, does not kick soldiers out of the Army because they don't meet the prescribed body-fat standard, Johnson said.

"You cannot just put someone out because fail the tape test," she said.

Soldiers must first be counseled about the problem. Leaders then should be sending them to see a nutritionist as well as a doctor to see if other health problems are to blame, Johnson said.

"A commander can't say ‘well you look fat, so you are gone,'" Johnson said "We have a process."

--Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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