FIT FOR THE FORCE? AN EMPIRICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE USMC FORCE FITNESS INSTRUCTOR (FFI) PROGRAM
Heissel, Jennifer A.
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Concerned with physical fitness, in January 2016 the Marine Corps established the Force Fitness Instructor (FFI) program. This FFI was to be trained in the latest scientifically proven methods of strength and conditioning techniques, programming, nutrition, and injury prevention. Coincident with the FFI program was implementation of increased standards for the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and Combat Fitness Test (CFT) that began on 1 January 2017. To evaluate the causal impact of the FFI program on Marines’ fitness and health, I mimic an experimental research design and employ a difference-in-difference regression approach. I examine individual Marines’ scores on the PFT and individual events and CFT and individual events, while having the FFI over five distinct time periods: > or = to 1, 30, 60, 90, and 120 days. I compare the scores of Marines in units with an FFI relative to those in like type units without, before vs. after receiving an FFI. The data and analyses reveal that the over-time change in PFT and CFT scores of Marines who had an FFI decreased relative to those without. Results show a marked drop in PFT and CFT scores associated with the increased standards in 2017, regardless of whether a Marine had an FFI or not. However, the FFI caused an additional decrease in scores upward of 2.449 points in the PFT and 8.591 points in the CFT in the total sample population and even higher for female Marines, 6.075 and 16.020 points, respectively.
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