The U.S. military already has a lot of issues to deal with – could this have really happened? Officials at Ramstein Air Base in Germany are investigating a claim that a Security Forces airman bribed their way to a passing score on their annual physical fitness test.
Sandra Archer-Harris, a spokesperson for Ramstein’s 86th Security Forces Squadron, did not provide any additional details but confirmed that there is an “ongoing investigation” into allegations that surfaced on social media.
News of the alleged incident was first shared July 30 with the popular Amn/NCO/SNCO Facebook page, where airmen often go to vent and share insider information about their duty stations.
“An 86th SFS SNCO here at Ramstein got caught bribing the tester to change pt numbers so they would meet standards and not fail,” the tipster posted on the Amn/NCO/SNCO page.
Bribery is punishable under Article 124 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The tipster also alleged that the entire Security Forces squadron was going through more frequent and rigorous physical training than usual as a result of the incident.
“Instead of punishing [the] individual and holding them accountable, the airmen are now required to attend more pt so no one else is in the same situation to fail,” the tipster wrote.
That allegation is reinforced by a picture of a July 27 memo posted to the Facebook page, which was authenticated by an 86th Security Forces Squadron spokesperson. A new policy mandates three additional physical training sessions each week for those who scored below 95% on an internal fitness test.
Archer-Harris said the policy was not punitive, but is a way to get Security Forces airmen ready for their missions and jobs.
“The 86 SFS physical training policy is one of several initiatives designed to ensure 86 SFS Defenders meet both physical and combat readiness requirements,” Archer-Harris said in an emailed statement. “Fitness programs are constantly evaluated to ensure every Defender is primed to execute Air Base Ground Defense at home station and abroad.”
Other Security Forces airmen have complained anonymously on the Facebook page, alleging they’ve been working nearly 18-hour days as a result of the additional PT.
“The 86 SFS leadership empowers supervisors at the lowest level to maximize schedule flexibility and ensure our Airmen are not working unnecessary hours,” Archer-Harris said.
The alleged bribery incident comes as the Air Force, and many of the other military branches, are looking at modifying their physical fitness tests to offer more options for service members — who know the score can often mean the difference between career advancement and being booted from the force.
Last November, the Air Force changed its physical fitness test to offer a 20-meter shuttle run, hand-release push-ups and cross-legged reverse crunches or planks as new options, instead of the traditional 1.5-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups.
Additionally, the service said the Air Force surgeon general has recommended the waist-to-height ratio as the best method for assessing body composition instead of the long-used tape test.
Thomas Novelly is a reporter for Military.com focusing on coverage of the Air Force and Space Force. He previously covered veterans, military bases and federal politics in South Carolina for The Post and Courier as well as breaking news for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.