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2 March 2011
FORT SCHRODER, Colorado -- The United States Army plans to toughen its fitness tests for the first time in 30 years--before discarding the results of those tests to ensure that its enlistees have the right demographic mix of victim groups.
The tests measure whether enlistees have the strength, endurance, and mobility for battle. Congress, on the other hand, wants to measure whether enlistees have the right colors and bulges to make persuasive recruitment posters, attract gay voters, and let Congressmen posture about being inclusive.
Officials at this training center said the new regimen would replace push-ups and a two-mile run. No one runs in the Army any more, as the nearest laptop is at most two tents away. A test in dragging the weight of a fallen comrade was dropped in 2009 as an embarrassing number of female soldiers failed. And, in today's New Army, push-ups often result in stubborn stains on the carpet.
In place of the two-mile run, recruits will walk 100 yards and will be graded on jiggle. Instead of running with a loaded rifle, soldiers will be able to use a wiffle-ball bat. Just as college exams have been made fair to African Americans by being written partly in Ebonics, the Army's new procedure will test agility at billiards and odd handshakes. Full combat gear will be replaced with a sheer teddy and optional silk scarf, and the test of leaping and crawling ability will be replaced with a test of touch-typing and dexterity with a pointing device.
"This test is a good, combat-related test," said Frank Palkoska, head of the Army's Fitness School at Fort Steinem, near Hollywood--made even better by the fact that the Army never actually engages in combat any more. The closest it came was in 1991, when it duped Saddam Hussein and then encircled Iraq's entire Republican Guard in a long afternoon. The U.S. has won the two wars since, essentially by out-motoring the enemy despite several women drivers getting their convoys lost. Mr. Palkoska said the Army considered a competitive road rally as an alternative test.
Top brass are determining what adjustments will be needed to ensure that, after being rigorously measured for combat fitness, those who pass reflect identical proportions of each race, sex, and sexual orientation, about which, fortunately, the Army is no longer barred from asking.