Marines Get Reprieve from the Dreaded Tape Test During Coronavirus Crisis

A service member’s waist is measured during a physical fitness test.
A service member’s waist is measured during a physical fitness test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stephanie Sauberan)

Marines who fall outside the Corps' height and weight standards won't immediately face the hated tape test, due to special new exemptions put in place during the global pandemic.

The Marine Corps has temporarily halted body composition measurements to meet distance requirements set in place during the novel coronavirus crisis, the service announced last week. And for now, no Marines will be assigned to the Body Composition Program, according to a force-wide administrative message.

The tape test requires a Marine to use a self-tensioning device to measure someone's hips, neck and waist. Those measurements are then used to calculate a Marine's body-fat percentage. If that percentage is above the maximum allowed for a Marine's gender and age, they could be assigned to the Body Composition Program, and face a deadline to get within standards or get out of the military.

Related: Marine Corps Suspends PFT for Remainder of 2020

For now though, "no new BCP assignments will be made until otherwise directed," the administrative message states.

The new rules were set after Commandant Gen. David Berger announced that this year's Physical Fitness Test requirements would be waived. The PFT, like the tape test, requires Marines to come into close contact with one another.

The Defense Department, complying with guidance set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wants troops to practice social distancing whenever practical.

The Marine Corps is still mandating that trainees at boot camp, Officer Candidates School and other formal programs complete their fitness tests if required for graduation. Recruits, candidates and students in those programs who don't meet height and weight standards could also need to be tape tested, according to the message.

Marines planning to reenlist must also complete the tape test if they're outside height and weight standards.

Those already assigned to the Body Composition Program can come off it at the end of six months if they meet the service's height and weight rules. If they require body-fat measurements, though, Marines will need to remain on the BCP until coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted and tape tests resume.

That won't be held against a Marine who isn't able to come off the program at the end of six months, the message states.

"This particular instance does not count as a second assignment or as a BCP extension as normally defined," it says.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read more: Marines Told to Cut High-Intensity Workouts During Coronavirus Outbreak

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