Sailors prioritize deployed fitness
Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa
Djibouti - U.S. Navy personnel assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) took to the AstroTurf Feb. 24, 2017 to practice for their first Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) while deployed to Camp Lemonnier.
The trial assessment gave Sailors an opportunity to test their physical readiness prior to implementation of the PFA program, from which they were previously exempted.
As the Command Fitness Leader (CFL) for CJTF-HOA, U.S. Navy Legalman 1st Class Celeste Dunlap, was tasked to facilitate the event. With the help of 22 assistant CFLs from both CJTF-HOA and Camp Lemonnier, she successfully administered the physical readiness portion of the PFA to 109 Navy personnel.
Since her selection as the CFL in November 2016, Dunlap has seen interest in the fitness program steadily increase. “[CJTF-HOA] had about five assistant CFLs when I began, but has since doubled that number to 10,” she said. “People are seeing what we’re doing, recognizing the value of it, and want to be a part of it.”
The full Navy PFA consists of standard medical screening, a body composition assessment, and a physical readiness test, to include the number of push-ups and curl-ups accomplished in a two-minute period, as well as a timed 1.5 mile run. The Navy also allows alternatives to the run such as a 500 yard swim, or 12 minutes on a stationary bike or elliptical machine.
According to Dunlap, with proper planning and organization, the facilities at Camp Lemonnier can easily support administration of the assessment. The turf sports field and adequate running routes accommodate the physical readiness portions of the PFA, while existing and future indoor facilities feature approved options for testing cardio fitness.
Chief of Staff for CJTF-HOA, U.S. Navy Capt. Richard Rodriguez, is tasked to support the commander in carrying out the mission of the task force, and oversees the CJTF headquarters and joint directorates.
Together with U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Geoffrey Steffee, command senior enlisted leader of CJTF-HOA, Rodriguez saw the PFA program as directly benefitting their mission, and took the steps necessary to implement it.
“Along with a balanced diet and proper rest, physical fitness is part of a normal healthy routine; but it also supports the mission,” Rodriguez said. “Our Sailors perform a lot of long days, long nights and 24 hour operations which requires endurance; not only mental endurance, but [also] physical endurance.”
Dunlap intends to administer the biennial PFA requirement in two three-month periods, April through June and October through December, eliminating the need to conduct testing during the hottest summer months.
“Whether back home or deployed, maintaining military fitness keeps our Sailors physically ready to meet operational requirements, and successfully accomplish the mission.” Dunlap said.
The first official PFAs are scheduled to begin in April, and for Sailors assigned to CJTF-HOA, will continue on as an integral part of deployed life at Camp Lemonnier.