Since 2008, 59 airmen at two bases may have unfairly failed their fitness assessments because the tracks they ran on were longer than they should have been, the Air Force announced Thursday.
As a result of the discoveries, Air Force leaders have ordered all bases to recertify their 1.5-mile running courses and 2-kilometer walking courses by Oct. 31 to make sure there are no other tracks with the same problem.
Air Force spokeswoman Brooke Brzozowske said the service is not halting use of those other tracks for fitness assessments while the recertification is taking place, since it has no indication now that they are mismeasured.
The Air Force said that officials at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas inspected its outdoor running course earlier this year and found it was 85 feet longer than required. The indoor running track at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts was even further off — 360 feet longer than required. The Hanscom track's mismeasurement was discovered after an airman filed an appeal.
The Goodfellow track was last accurately measured in 2010. At some point, its lanes were adjusted, Brzozowske said, and were either not remeasured afterward or were remeasured inaccurately. This caused 18 airmen to fail the fitness test who would otherwise have passed, the Air Force said.
The Hanscom track had construction done after its last accurate measure in 2008 and was similarly not remeasured or remeasured inaccurately, Brzozowske said. As a result, 41 airmen there failed their fitness tests.
However, it may be difficult to tell whether the Air Force's estimates include every airman negatively affected by the incorrectly measured tracks.
"Wow, can't imagine some of the people who got screwed and I know the true numbers will be higher," former airman Steven Mayne said on his popular Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page.
Mayne said that when he was a squadron superintendent, he often saw airmen mentally give up and begin to walk when they realized that they weren't going to pass their running test.
"This would not be accounted for by [simply] looking at those who failed by X seconds," Mayne said. "Especially considering one so far was 360 feet longer, I can easily see some [airmen] gassing out at the end, when they may have already been finished."
The Air Force said all affected airmen are being notified and will be provided avenues for remedy.
Brzozowske said that for airmen who are still on active duty, this means their fitness scores will be adjusted and any personnel actions that were taken as a result of those fitness scores will be remedied. She said airmen who were affected should work with their chain of command, force support squadron, legal office and the Air Force Personnel Center to correct their records.
Airmen who have since left should contact the Discharge Review Board or the Board for Correction of Military Records, she said.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.