No reports have surfaced at Fort Gordon of military personnel resorting to liposuction to remove excess fat from waistlines in an attempt to pass the Pentagon’s body composition test, officials said Monday.
“I have heard nothing on that,” spokesman Buz Yarnell said. “That’s a new one to me.”
Last November, Fort Gordon began phasing in changes to the Army’s Body Composition program, which was officially revised in June to trim a U.S. defense budget that was faced with a $37 billion shortfall despite an 80,000-soldier reduction in troops.
Though height and weight requirements remain unchanged, the Body Composition Program gives commanders the power to flag overweight soldiers and require them to see a dietician, develop an action plan and go through monthly assessments.
Master Sgt. Christopher Wallace, the training coordinator for the Signal Corps’ Regimental Noncommissioned Officer Academy, said in an interview this summer that within the first two months, eight to 10 soldiers sent to Fort Gordon for signal training failed the Army’s physical fitness test.
Wallace said that number has now dropped to one a month at Fort Gordon.
“If they are good to go, the training course continues,” Wallace said. “If they’re not, they are sent home.”
A soldier who is flagged is not promotable, will not be assigned to command positions and is not authorized to attend military schools or institutional training courses.
Within two weeks of enrollment, the soldier must schedule an appointment with a dietician or health care provider and develop an action plan. Monthly assessments follow, in which soldiers are expected to lose 3 to 8 pounds or 1 percentage point of body fat each month.
Soldiers who are pregnant, have a major limb loss or have undergone prolonged hospital stays are exempt. Those with a validated temporary medical condition that directly causes weight gain or prevents body fat loss will have six months to resolve the issue.
A physician can extend the period to 12 months, granting a soldier temporary immunity for not showing progress.
Soldiers might be required to modify calorie intake when reduced physical activity is necessary. Dangerous weight-loss tactics, such as fasting, supplements and vomiting are prohibited.