Is Improved Guidance & Oversight Needed to Ensure Validity & Equity of US Military Fitness Standards (1998)?

Research Paper Title

Improved Guidance and Oversight Are Needed to Ensure Validity and Equity of Fitness Standards.


Physical fitness is a fundamentally important part of military life for both men and women in the Department of Defense (DOD). Each year, thousands of service members are denied promotions, schooling, or other benefits for failing to meet fitness standards. Despite remedial programmes, many of these personnel are eventually forced to leave the military for continued failure to meet the standards. The growing role of women in the armed forces – some in physically demanding positions – has been accompanied by debate over fundamental and sometimes contentious issues, including whether the fitness standards are fair and appropriate to
both sexes in today’s military.

The Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Readiness, Senate Committee on Armed Services, requested that the General Accounting Office (GAO) review a series of issues regarding the treatment of men and women in the military. This report discusses issues related to the physical fitness program. Specifically, GAO determined whether

  1. Differences exist among the military services in physical fitness standards and testing and the basis for any differences;
  2. The services have a sound basis for adjusting the standards for gender and age; and
  3. DOD exercises adequate oversight of the fitness programme.

You can read the full report here: Improved Guidance & Oversight are Needed to Ensure Validity & Equity of Fitness Standards (GAO, 1998).


GAO (General Accounting Office) (1998) Gender Issues: Improved Guidance and Oversight Are Needed to Ensure Validity and Equity of Fitness Standards. GAO/NSIAD-99-9. Washington, D.C.: GAO.


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