Skip to comments.OUR OPINION: Air Force should loosen its waistline rules
Posted on 03/29/2013 8:26:50 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
Sure, rules are rules.
But some rules are just dumb. And any rule that forces out a highly trained, highly skilled and highly decorated 25-year veteran over a measurement as questionable as waist size is a rule that ought to be scratched.
The Air Force should pay attention to what its senior airmen and civilian critics are saying and lose the waistline standard.
The decision will come too late to help Col. Tim Bush, who was forced out of his job at Grand Forks Air Force Base because his 41-inch waist exceeded the standard by 2 inches.
But maybe itll help the next Air Force Academy graduate, Bronze Star winner and former presidential advance agent for Air Force One whose career hangs in the balance because of black markings on yellow tape.
Its clear that the service needs its people to be healthy and in good shape. Its clear that theres an appearance factor involved: Americans expect their all-volunteer Armed Forces to look good in uniform.
But its also clear that in this case (and many others; more about that below), neither of those things applied. Col. Bush cut a fine figure in uniform. Hes 6-foot-1, so his waist is in proportion to his height.
And his fitness isnt in question, given the fact that he passed the services requirements for push-ups, distance running and so on.
This suggests that the services waist-measurement standards are arbitrary. Arbitrary and unjust: Airmen, like all of society, come in different sizes and shapes, bone structures and metabolism rates, the Air Force Times newspaper editorialized in 2010.
Yet such diversity is not factored into what the Air Force considers its picture of health. Thats not fair. Air Force leaders need to craft new standards that allow for such differences and key on ensuring that airmen are fit to do their jobs.
If Bush had been an outlier, the Air Force might have been more justified in its enforcement. But thats not the case either.
There are ample stories of airmen resorting to extreme and dangerous measures such as starvation diets and laxatives to meet the Air Forces waist-measurement portion of the new physical training test: One who runs eight to 10 miles a day yet resorted to spending $12,000 on two liposuction surgeries to get her waistline within standards, the Air Force Times editorial continues.
Another struggles to stay trim, although he has worked out so much he had to have two knee replacements. Others are spending dangerous amounts of time in saunas or wrapping themselves in plastic to induce sweat.
Those are signs of standards that are based on fantasy, not reality. They need to be crafted with more care.
As Tim Lamb points out in his letter on this page, it was Army Gen. Stormin Norman Schwarzkopf himself a big man who revamped the Armys weight standards. I got a copy of the Washington Redskins roster and pointed out that not a single one of those athletes could qualify under the existing height-and-weight rules, Schwarzkopf writes in his autobiography.
Theyd all have gotten kicked out of the Army.
Today, its the Air Force thats losing its Pro Bowl defensive linemen, so to speak. The service should retract its flexible tapes and find a less arbitrary, more meaningful and more widely accepted standard.
Common sense always required.
In 1972 one of my fellow Sargent’s was 6’3” & 205.
He was a rock solid martial arts expert.
He got jacked up at a physical and told he had to lose 6 lbs, to get back “under weight”.....
I told him to go see the base commander...but he decided it wasn’t worth it.
As for belly size maximums....41”....really?
My doctor told me I needed to lose weight to meet the standards. I challenged her v to a pushup contest. I did 30 fast ones. We agreed on a weight about 30 lbs over the standard.
They are using it for “force shaping”.
This, indeed, is ridiculous.
On the other end of the spectrum are our policemen and EMT’s. My neighbor was transported to the hospital last week in an ambulance because of a heart related problem. There were only two EMT’s. One drove and the other had to ride in the passenger’s seat. He was way too large to fit behind the steering wheel and could not manage to get his butt up into the back of the ambulance. Fortunately one of our other neighbors is an M.D. and rode in the back of the ambulance to the hospital.
Their explanation for having the obese one working was because they were shorthanded.
You mean like women in combat, and faggots in foxholes?
For the service, why don't they do muscle mass/fat ratios instead of just weight and waist? Other interesting stats: Average LAPD Waist size: 33. Average Chicago PD Waist size: 43.
Proportion? OK to have a 40" wasit with a 40" inseam.
Lets lose all the standards. With any luck, we will soon have nothing but fat lesbians filling out the ranks.
The AF is concerned about how their Airmen look. But this same officer could go out and march in a gay pride parade in tight shorts and black stockings and that would be just fine. Other military members of the same sex can wear their uniforms in the gay pride parades and kiss each other while marching down the street.
Yet, their concerned about appearance.
That's true ... and yet it sounds like satire.
Yet, their concerned about appearance.
Does any of this really matter?
America is no longer a country worth defending.
That America is dead and gone.
The 40” rule is a typical example of governmental idiocy. In fact, when I was in, your physical fitness score included a waistline measurement that started penalizing any waist over, IIRC, 32 inches. I don’t remember if females had a smaller standard.
40” came from a POPULATION study that associated a 40” or greater waistline with increased heart disease. Apart for the fact that heart disease doesn’t usually cripple people until past military ages, the study was intended to give doctors a ‘factor’ that might make them explore the patient’s health further. It was never, ever meant to be a rule applied to everyone.
When the rule came out, I had 2 guys working for me at both extremes. One was a slender, 5’7” Filipino who had a 28 inch waist - and shoulders to match. Another was a Master Sergeant who had to turn sideways to get his shoulders thru the door frame. Slight exaggeration, but his shoulders were huge. Only a government worker could conclude they both needed the same size waist. His wrist matched my elbow...
In fact, we had a gal in the office who was 5’ 1” and MAYBE 95 lbs. I think she had a 23” waist, but she was built to match it. On a deployment, who do you want - a guy who could lift 100+ lbs with one arm, or a gal who didn’t even WEIGH 100 lbs?
They need to use BMI or some more sophisticated metric for fitness. I have a friend who is trying to get into the reserves who is a very muscular 210 pounds. If he loses the 35 pounds required he definitely will be going deep into muscle. loss.
I wish they would strictly enforce the physical requirements.
True. Once you hit 15 years, or so, for many it’s a struggle. Part of the job. My knees and hip fexors remind me often of the miles I put in to make it to 26 years. It’s not easy at all.
I tend to agree -in my opinion the 'physical appearance' should be more guideline rather than requirement with a system in place to handle exceptions exceptionally e.g. waiver. The actual 'physical ability' requirement is what matters.
He didn’t pass. Not at all.
The Air Force has several components. The run is worth 60 points, the waist measurement is worth 20, and pushups and situps are worth 10 apiece. Maxing out all of them gives you a perfect 100, 90 or above is considered “excellent”, and below 75 is failing.
However, they also have minimums for each category. Not meeting the minimum for ANY standard is considered an automatic failure, regardless of overall score. So if you max your run and waist, but can’t do the minimum number of pushups in a minute, you still fail even if you get over a 75.
Furthermore, I have served with a high number of Airmen who have been 6’1” or above. Not a single one of them had a problem passing the waist measurement. I would know, because I was the PTL that was taping them.
Finally, it’s not like this policy snuck up on the good Colonel. For example, I’m a power lifter who usually hates cardio. But I usually pick up the pace on my running a month or two out from my test, because I want to get in the high 90’s (excellent scores means you only have to test once a year, instead of twice).
“They need to use BMI or some more sophisticated metric for fitness.”
Yes, they need something FAR more sophisticated than BMI, which only considers height & weight.
BMI classified me as “Overweight” when my percentage of body fat was low enough that I would sink to the bottom of a swimming pool with full lungs. (of course, it might have been the rocks in my head)
Want to know how the USMC keeps our Marines in great shape compared to all other service branches?
Smoke. Yo'. Ass. Into. The. Deck. Sucka.
Day in, day out. Ask me how I know.
Suck it up, fatty.
Using BMI is why they started processing out weightlifters during the H.W. Bush presidency.
Look up the current standards for detecting anorexia in males. Now go back and review the standards for the military discharges under H.W.
Note that they never told those guys why they were tossed out, other than being out of compliance.
“You’re fat, you’re fired, get out” is “face saving”?
I wish they would strictly enforce the physical requirements
I am 6' 1" and weighed 203 when I retired at the end of 2011 due to age. After six months of not sitting behind a desk babysitting the email and other sites I had to access on a regular basis, I was walking over two miles a day. I got down to 173 and have now stabilized around 177.
I’m waiting anxiously for winter to end so I can resume my outdoor activity and exercise.
I can’t bring myself to ride my bike in the cold, bluster and seemingly incessant rain. My kayak is out of the question
We touched down at an Air Force base in Texas and stayed overnight. I thought we died and went to heaven. The Officer’s & VIP chowhall had tablecloths and 15 different condiments lined up for use. No cooks there. No, sir. They had five-star chefs, all top graduates of the Culinary Institute of America or Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
When the chef asked how I wanted my three-inch thick Texas T-bone steak, I was shocked as I was usually served tire treads back at home base. The omelet was outstanding, not of the powdered variety, and fit for a king. I was offered as much smokehouse bacon - by the furlong - as I could eat. The perfect cream puff desserts were of French origin and stood about 12-inches tall. Each came with an airman to fan away the Texas humidity. They were out of Bordeaux but the B&B stood in fine.
After breakfast, we were escorted to the base commander’s Italian spa where we enjoyed a Japanese bath and back massage and then settled in for a morning of five-card stud while puffing fine Arturo Fuente Hemingway cigars.
Finally, at about noon, the Air Force personnel slipped out their feather beds, and the base stirred to life. They fueled up our clunky World War II vintage aircraft, gave us each a picnic basket of fresh fruit, wine and sandwiches and bid us adieu.
I can easily understand 41-inch waists in the Air Force.
You are on the other end of the weather pattern we are having. There have already been several days in the 90s and it’s not April yet. This is our third year of severe drought.
“Proportion? OK to have a 40” wasit with a 40” inseam.”
I wear jeans that are 38 waist, 34 inseam but I have short legs and a long body. I am 6 feet, 4 inches in height and weigh 260 pounds at age 68. I have always wanted to be able to buy coveralls but there are none available that are long enough between crotch and shoulder for me to wear. According to height and weight charts I am dangerously obese but younger people marvel at how I manage to look so “buff” at my age. My chest measurement is 52 inches. When I go for a checkup the doctors seem not to be worried about my weight. I can still swing a nine pound splitting maul.
I would actually prefer to weigh around 220 but I cannot seem to lose fat weight without gaining muscle weight and I can’t seem to lose muscle weight without gaining fat. I would much rather have a 52 inch chest and 38 inch waist than weigh the same and have reverse measurements. If I somehow dropped down to the weight recommended on the charts I would look like a scarecrow. At twenty one years I weighed 180 and looked like “Stringbean”.
I can tell that these pukes have never really sat in an aircrewman’s seat in an Air Force aircraft.
My son is 6'2" with a 40" waist. He is, not to dismiss his many good qualities, fat.
Today’s paper said that helio instructors must weigh less than 250#
Due to fuel costs.
Yes; the Nation is officially insane now.
...and these are CIVILIANS they want to regulate!!!
Then my boy, Mother Nature says you are supposed to weigh 180 and look a stringbean. Years of impressive trencher work and hard exercise have given you a wholotta well-larded hard muscle, aka 'bull fat,' instead. It's OK. Life is good.
“Bull fat”? Never heard that term before.
As I matured I topped 190, waist 36. Athletic. Muscular. But definitely not good for the health. Those were strong larded muscles "bull fat." Was eatin' great. drinkin' better!
NFL Linemen exhibit extreme versions of the problem, often having to drop well over 100 lbs when they retire to get their blood fats and cholesterol in line and to ease the strain on the joints.
Trained down to 155 about 10 years ago and I am tellin' ya, the health and athletic benefits are well worth it for an older dude (75). Come on down! 190 maybe, and you'll be a new man!
P.S., My uncle the 100-year-old doc says, "If you want to live a long life, don't eat anything!" Of course he also says, "Have a glass of whiskey every night. If it makes you feel good, have another." No metrics on "glass." Mine are 4 glasses to a fifth!
I might very well feel much better at 190 but I don’t seem to be able to get there. Actually I have had physicians to tell me recently that the more muscle I can carry the better off I should be as long as I don’t have a high fat percentage. The advice keeps changing, a few years back I was reading that minimal calorie intake was the way to live a 3 digit lifespan, now that seems to be going out the window. By the way, my father was about six foot two and up until old age weighed about 165 and had definition like Bruce Lee, he lived to a month shy of 82, his father was my height, six foot three or four and had weighed around 230 as a younger man, he died at 86. My mother was five nine and had two sisters, one an inch shorter and one who was five ten, she had six brothers, the oldest was about six foot five and huge and died in his seventies and the others were bigger than average, two died in their fifties, one at sixty, one near ninety and the other in his early nineties, mother died at 78, her younger sister died first while in her sixties and the older sister died last at just over 80. I come from well above average height and mostly larger framed ancestors. My father was thin and wiry with extremely low bodyfat, he always ate sparingly yet he became disabled by joint problems and went on disability in his mid fifties, he did somehow overcome that and was very spry and flexible in his late seventies and up until a year before his death, he credited the recovery to eating all kinds of wild plants but could not say which ones may have accounted for the amazing change.