Army to start cracking down on soldiers too fat to fight

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The U.S. military is dealing with a new problem of late -- Marines and soldiers who are too fat to fight. Now after spending years in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is doing something about it.

Two times a week, every single week, a group of seasoned sergeants train for the front lines. Because if they don't: "they're a casualty in essence," said Sgt. Maj. John Troxell.

Troxell, who is the command sergeant of the I Corps, says other soldiers could die, and that's why the Army is now trimming their soldiers' fat.

"They have to have the requisite levels of fitness so they don't let down the man or woman beside them in the worst kind of condition - in combat," Troxell said.

The Army's top brass says war in Iraq and Afghanistan took their focus away from fitness. The Pentagon estimates every year they pay $1 billion on obesity-related health issues for soldiers and their families.

"I just turned 49 Monday," Troxell said. "I don't think there's too many of my buddies doing this."

Now, starting Nov. 1, officers attending a training school or course must pass the Army's physical fitness test and make weight or they could eventually be kicked-out.

For soldiers age 32-to-36, to pass the fitness test requires men to do 36 push-ups in a minute; women 15.

Both have to do 42 sit-ups in a minute, while men have to run 2 miles in just under 18 minutes; women, 22 minutes.

The average man who's 5 feet 9 inches must weigh 184 pounds or less. Women who are 5 feet 4 inches must weigh 149 pounds or less.

Not only do these soldiers pass, many pound out vigorous workouts wearing masks that simulate high altitude.

It's tough stuff, but these men and women are dedicated to trimming down their troops.

The Army is facing serious downsizing - 80,000 troops over the next five years and say they'll get rid of soldiers too fat to fight first.