Navy Revises Fitness Policy to Retain More Sailors

by Daisy

In a significant policy shift, the U.S. Navy announced that sailors who fail two physical fitness assessments (PFA) will no longer face automatic career termination. This change, effective June 18, grants commanding officers more discretion in evaluating and managing their sailors’ fitness progress.

Previously, sailors who failed a second PFA were barred from advancing or reenlisting, effectively ending their Navy careers. After a first PFA failure, sailors were required to participate in a mandatory fitness program and could only advance after passing a subsequent PFA. Failure in the second attempt meant career termination.


The new policy empowers commanding officers to assess a sailor’s efforts and potential for improvement, allowing them to make decisions that best serve the individual and the Navy. The change, announced via a naval administrative message (NAVADMIN), emphasizes the importance of command leadership discretion in retention recommendations.


“This change provides command leadership discretion on retention recommendations to exercise in the best interests of the Navy,” the NAVADMIN stated.


The policy revision is part of the Navy’s broader campaign to enhance accessions, retention, and reduce attrition. Commanders are now instructed to consider a sailor’s qualifications for continued service, their contribution to Navy missions, and their potential to meet PFA standards in the next year.

As part of this shift, PFA failures will no longer be recorded on annual evaluations, although sailors may still face limitations in advancement. Those who fail subsequent PFAs are not required to receive minimal marks or negative trait grades in categories like Military Bearing/Professionalism or Significant Problems and Retention Not Recommended.

This update aligns with the Navy’s Culture of Excellence 2.0 campaign, launched in March, which aims to reshape Navy culture and equip leaders with tools to better understand and support their sailors.

The PFA policy update follows a “one-time reset” implemented over a year ago, which erased any PFA failures prior to 2023. This reset allowed sailors with past PFA failures to start afresh, enabling commanding officers to reinstate retention and advancement recommendations for those wishing to stay and advance in the Navy.

Navy leaders emphasize that this policy change is part of a comprehensive effort to improve sailor retention and reduce attrition, ensuring a more robust and capable force.


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