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Army’s new tape test

A soldier receives an old tape test in October 2021 at Fort Bragg, now Fort Liberty, N.C. Photo credit: U.S. Army A soldier receives an old tape test in October 2021 at Fort Bragg, now Fort Liberty, N.C. Photo credit: U.S. Army

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The United States Army has announced the phase out of the neck and hip tape test by mid 2024, a long-standing method used to measure body fat percentage in soldiers, according to Military Times. This move signifies a significant shift in the military's approach to physical fitness and its commitment to embracing modern evaluation techniques.

The neck and hip tape test, a widely criticized and contentious method, has often been regarded as inaccurate and unfair. Recognizing these concerns, military officials have resolved to replace it with more reliable and comprehensive measures to assess soldiers' body composition.

The new formulas call for only body weight and an abdominal measurement, according to publicly-available implementation documents.

The decision to eliminate the tape test was based on extensive research and feedback from experts in the field of physical fitness, Military Times reported. The Army has acknowledged that this outdated method did not take into account the unique body types and variations among soldiers. It often failed to provide an accurate representation of an individual's true physical fitness and readiness for duty.

The new method is both more accurate and less forgiving, according to service data and preliminary study findings provided to Army Times.

Military Times reported researchers also believe that the one-site tape test, when combined with a March policy change exempting high-scorers on the Army Combat Fitness Test from body fat measurement, will inaccurately fail virtually no women and about 0.25% of men.

Soldiers who fail height and weight screening, fail to achieve a fitness exemption, and fail the new waist-only measurement can temporarily request the old test during a one-year implementation period, according to implementation documents, noted Military Times. Those who fail again may request a final confirmation test via body scanning or bioelectrical impedance.

The Army announced last year that it would not change its height/weight screening tables. Officials noted that the tables are intended to exempt those whose body fat is almost certainly within DoD standard.

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