were adopted for the testing of physical fitness at the MEPS or at some point subsequent to being seen at the MEPS but prior to shipping to basic training.
Although physical fitness has not been included in military recruitment protocols in the past, such procedures are widely used in the private sector and the scientific literature on measurement of physical fitness provides many test options that meet acceptable standards for validity and reliability. Accordingly, it should be possible to develop procedures that would be relatively efficient and valid in the hands of military personnel who are involved in the recruitment processes. That said, addition of a physical fitness testing procedure would add costs to the recruitment process. Presumably, these costs would vary depending on the phase at which the testing procedure is incorporated and on the nature of the fitness test. In addition, there would be some modest increase in risk to the recruits who would be required to complete the physical fitness test.
The primary purpose for adding a physical fitness assessment prior to initiation of basic training would be to identify prospective recruits or accessions whose physical fitness is so low as to place them at substantially elevated risk for injury or attrition. Of course, identifying such persons would be useful only if appropriate actions were taken based on their identification as what we call “low fit.” There are a number of different actions that could be taken, and any or all of them would be expected to reduce injury and attrition in the population of basic trainees and first-term recruits. If a physical fitness test was administered prior to recruitment, those falling below a specified standard could be excluded at that time, provided with guidance on increasing their fitness, retested later, and reaccepted if they subsequently met the standard. This is essentially equivalent to placing recruits in the delayed entry program (DEP) and providing physical training for them. Alternatively, those found to be low fit prior to accession could be accepted into military service and referred to a mandatory training program, which would be completed prior to shipping to basic training. Another alternative, if basic training protocols were modified to allow it, is that low-fit inductees could initiate basic training without delay but complete training procedures that would be scaled to their lower level of fitness.
If testing procedures are adopted that identify some recruits as low fit, they could be referred to physical training programs that would be designed to increase their fitness to acceptable levels prior to initiation of standard basic training. As suggested in the preceding section, this fundamental approach could be applied regardless of the phase of the accession