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Marine Corps considers new fitness instructor MOS

Editor's note: Marine Corps officials clarified Wednesday that the force fitness instructor military occupational specialty is not likely to be a primary MOS.  

Top Marine leaders are recommending that  conducting a CMC-driven fitness review will recommend nearly 1,000 new force fitness instructors be trained across the fleet in an effort to  added across designated a military occupational specialty as a Fitness Center of Excellence is established. These Marines will be used to institutionalize a professionalize the Corps' approach to fitness and hone the "warrior athlete" through focused fitness and readiness for deployment.

The new force fitness instructor position could become a primary military occupation specialty, according to a 28-page proposal obtained by Marine Corps Times. Also recommended is the creation to a new Marine Corps Fitness Center of Excellence, which would help institutionalize the service's "warrior athlete" mentality. 

The recommendations, which will be presented to senior Marine leaders this month, follow by are in response to Commandant Gen. Robert Neller’s call for a cadre of force fitness instructors to be assigned at the company, battery or squadron levels by Oct. 1, 2017.

These Marines will help commanders develop unit PT programs that support mission-essential tasks. They'll also help with injury prevention, remedial PT and nutritional guidance. physical training programs that covers everything from injury prevention and physical performance enhancement with a focus on mission-essential tasks. These instructors will also assist individual Marines with specialized training programs such as remedial PT, body composition management, and nutritional guidance, and Force fitness instructors could also work with assist sports medicine providers to in the design and execution of fitness programs for Marines returning after an injury or extended periods of limited duty, according to the proposal.

The new MOS, tentatively tasked as 0919, would be akin to the 0916 martial arts instructor or 0918 marine combat water survival instructor jobs. The report recommends that the these Marines be corporals or above noncommissioned officers or above and that they have:

  • First-class physical and combat fitness test scores.
  • Water survival-intermediate qualification.
  • A green belt in the martial arts program.
  • High Intensity Tactical Training Level II completed.
  • Be certified and assigned in writing by the commanding officer or officer-in-charge.

A Marine administrative message that will establish initial operational capability is in the works and expected later this month, according to the report. It also calls for company-, battery- and squadron-level force fitness instructors — FFIs – roughly one for every 200 Marines — to be in place within 90 days of that message MARADMIN for the active forces. Leaders are also encouraging supporting establishment and Reserve component participation. It also calls for "additional structure" of three officers, three enlisted and six civilians. The recommendation addresses a need to refine and adapt the guidance.

Maj. Anton Semelroth, a Marine spokesman, stressed that all of the information in the fitness proposal is still pre-decisional. The plans will continue to be updated, he said, declining to discuss any of the recommendations until the commandant makes his final determinations.

The force fitness instructor program could be a good fit for Such a program would be perfect for Marines like such as Capt. Bryce Saddoris, the Corps' top male athlete who's favored to win a medal for wrestling at this Summer Olympics games. Saddoris, the Marine Corps’ Male Athlete of the Year, came within days of being forced out earlier this year when manpower officials determined he didn’t have enough time in his primary MOS. He coaches and travels with the Marine Corps' 40-man Marine wrestling team, and was nearly forced out of the service when manpower officials first determined that he didn't have enough time in his primary MOS.

"This guy knows everything about nutrition and physical training," Col. Chandler Seagraves, the captain's commanding officer told Marine Corps Times in January. "That is a capacity he could provide to the Marine Corps down the road."

Saddoris told Marine Corps Times that he is excited at the possibility of seeing Marines serving as force fitness instructors.

"This is definitely a great step," he said. "I hope the Marine Corps will have these Marines get their personal trainer certificate and be trained up in nutritional guidance. This will absolutely strengthen individuals and units."

The captain expressed frustration at the number of Marines who try to cut 10 pounds in the weeks leading to a height and weight measurements. He knows that pain well. Though Saddoris typically carries 4- to 6-percent body fat and hits a 300-point PFT with ease, his 67-inch height keeps him within 5 to 10 pounds of his maximum weight. In his mind, force fitness instructors can help the Marine Corps overcome its "culture of bad habits."

"If you are able to work with individuals — teach them how to eat good and why to eat good, and proper work outs — you will feed them for a lifetime," he said. "It will take some time to break the bad habits and build good ones, but as you get more people on board, they will be able to help others out. The long-term benefits will be immeasurable."

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