Meet Staff Sgt. Jeff Smith. He’s a veteran marathoner, a two-workouts-a-day gym rat, and a 17-year-Marine who saw his career hit a major speed bump when he landed on the wrong side of the infamous tape test in 2009.
If a Marine falls outside the height and weight regulations specified by the Marine Corps (and data provided by manpower officials show about 14 percent of all Marines do), he or she has to submit to the tape test, which takes a tape measurement of the neck and waist and uses an algorithm to arrive at a body fat calculation. Just one problem: Experts say that number is often way, way off.
Now Smith is putting it all on the line to protest the tape test. He’s hoping to get a face-to-face meeting with Marine Corps commandant Gen. Jim Amos by requesting mast up the chain of command and make a case for a new standard–one with a level of accuracy that befits the high standards of the Marine Corps.
“If we’re the most elite force that does things the most efficient and the best, why would we use the tape test?” Smith told me.
But he still faces an uphill battle to success. All the military services use the tape test, and Marine Corps officials said it meets service criteria because it is cheap, easy to use, and relatively accurate. Meanwhile, as the military shrinks, few services are looking for a reason to keep more troops in uniform. Smith’s best hope may be a viral movement of troops who are just as fired up as he is.
Read the full story on Marine Corps Times Prime here.
And let us know what you think about the tape test in the comments below.