26 August 2008

The Butter-Cutter On The USMC Combat Fitness Test

The balmy weather in Metro-DC put a spring in my step as I approached the virtual Chow Line, “Have you heard about the new Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test?” I asked The Butter-Cutter. (1) 

“The Combat Fitness Test,” he repeated then burst out laughing. “We been in combat in Iraq 'n' Afghanistan fer over five years 'n' the Spear-Chuckers NOW come up with a TEST ta see if we're fit ta fight there? Ya gotta be shittin' me!” he laughed still more.

“You had better get serious about this test. When fully implemented in 2009, this will be a PASS or FAIL test which will factor in for promotion to the next higher rank.”

“Yeah, sure, I gotta get serious? About what? I'm a grunt. In my unit, I do: PT every day; the 'McMAP' eye-ball- 'n'-groin shit three times a week; the PFT [Physical Fitness Test] two-ta-four times a year; 'n', we go ta the Boondocks . . . forever. I don't know any grunt that's gonna fail the thing. But, lemme ask ya: if I do fail it, does that mean I don't get sent ta Iraq er Afghanistan? HELL NO! I STILL GO! It's all Bull Shit! Bull Shit! Bull Shit!” (2)

“Your physical fitness regimen is impressive; however, the Combat Fitness Test has been 'created to prepare [Marines] for the uncertain demands of combat,' ” I described the test further by quoting the two Marine Corps Times articles I read.

“Prepare for the uncertain demands of combat ya say,” and The Butter-Cutter laughed almost hysterically.

“WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT NOW?” I shouted out in irritation.

“You 'n' how serious ya get describin' this Bull Shit! This is Bull Shit, no more no less, “ he answered while continuing to laugh aloud. 

“It is not Bull Shit! The first event calls for an 880-yard 'movement to contact' sprint followed by 'the ammo-can lift' which consists of two-minutes of lifting a 30-pound ammo can over your head. It finishes with the '300-yard maneuver under fire' drill which is 'part obstacle course, part pre-season football conditioning glazed with a unique Corps mindset,' ” I described further from the Times

“GREAT BALLS O' FARTS!” he shouted. “Tell me! How many freakin' times d'ya think a Marine's gonna stand up in COMBAT 'n' push a 30-pound ammo can up over his head? On second thought; yeah, I see it. I really see it! We're in a fire-fight with a bunch o' Hajjis: a supportin' heliocopeter gun-ship runs outta ammo; he asks us grunts fer more ammo; he hovers over our position; I stand 'n' push a dozen cans up ta him (the Hajjis they hold their fire 'cause they see that this is just part o' my Combat Fitness Test); now resupplied, the heliocopeter goes on 'n' kills all them freakin' Hajjis. Yeah! I SEE IT!” The Butter-Cutter broke-out again laughing and slapping the steam table between us with his open-hand. 

“Don't be ridicules! Where did you get those 12 cans of ammo you gave to the helicopter crew?” 

“From the same f***in' place them Spear- Chuckers got this mother f***in' Bull Shit test-OUTTA MY ASS!” and The Butter-Cutter laughed even louder than before accompanied by more slapping of the steam table. 

That damn Butter-Cutter, I knew I had made a mistake as soon as I said it. “Alright! Alright! I asked the wrong question. That doesn't change the fact that your example is bizarre and irrelevant,” I said trying to regain control. 

“Oh, yeah! What I say is . . . bizarre? Tell me then, waddaya call doin' push-ups in combat?” he asked shooting back.

“Well . . . I  . . . don't foresee that requirement happening too often.”

“Then why the f*** is it part of this Combat Fitness Test that YOU say prepares Marines for the 'uncertain demands of combat'?” 

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Durin' that 'maneuver under fire' part, after ya throw the hand grenade, yer supposed ta hit the deck 'n' do three push-ups. Is this an 'uncertain demand' from the Hand-Grenade Gods? 'Do three pushups er we throw the freakin' thing back!' It's Bull Shit! Bull Shit! Bull Shit!” he shouted then laughed again. 

“Enough! The Marine Corps is looking out for your welfare by testing your fitness for combat and all you can do is laugh and call it, 'Bull Shit!' Where is your respect and understanding of what is happening here?”

““My understandin'? I'll give ya my understandin'! Besides the Bull Shit events I already told ya about, when we take this TEST ta measure our 'Combat Fitness,' we do it with no rifle, no helmet, no 'flak,' no CamelBak full o' water, 'n' no ammo-all the stuff we carry around in combat but don't carry in this test! This thing is just a Bull Shit half-ass 2nd PFT. The Number One PFT has been around fer somethin' like over 35 years 'n' it's got us ready fer everythin' we've had ta do fer all them years-includin' the past five years o' the Iraq 'n' Afghanistan wars.  NO! This ain't about testin' our 'Combat Fitness'; this is all about the Commandant pretendin' ta fix somethin' that ain't broke, like General Krulak pretended ta fix Boot Camp with the Crucible when Boot Camp wasn't broke. On top o' that, the Commandant is doin' this fer the same reason General Krulak dumped the Crucible on the Corps; so when he retires, he can say: 'See what good-shit I did for the Marine Corps!' Bull Shit! Bull Shit! Bull  . . . ”

The Butter-Cutter's machine gun-like repetition of “Bull Shit” drove me out of the virtual Mess Hall. As I drove home, I remembered the old PFT and PRT, Physical Readiness Test, which was supposed to measure a Marine's combat readiness-fitness, if you like-back in the 1960's. Curiously, we took the PRT outfitted with rifle, cartridge belt, helmet, and Light Marching Pack. What The Butter-Cutter calls the current “Number One PFT” is what replaced BOTH the old PFT and PRT. I took great comfort in hearing him say that this “PFT,” our old Lesson Learned, has succeeded in getting Marines ready for “everythin' “ for over 35 years.  


Semp . . . Numquam Fix Something That Isn't Broke, (3)

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC (Ret.)

(1) http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2008/08/marine_combatfitness_081808w/ and http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/issues/stories/0-MARINEPAPER-3675996.php

(2) McMAP: Marine Corps Martial Arts Program 

(3) Numquam: Never