Physical fitness requirements seem to be an ever-interesting topic in regard to land warfare. A high fitness standard seems to be quite self-evident for infantry, scouts and most engineers. Military history knows nevertheless many drafted and not necessarily physically fit (often not even healthy or quite dwarfish) infantrymen and engineers.
There's greater disagreement about the physical fitness requirements for support personnel and armour troops. On the other hand, these troops were often required to serve as a kind of defensive (object defence or self-defence) infantry. WW2 experiences such as the infamous "Alarmeinheiten" (improvised emergency infantry and anti-tank units) and U.S. anti-air personnel being pushed into infantry units as replacements remind us of the importance of infantry skills and physical fitness of everyone, though.
Guderian is on record complaining about the high losses of expert tank crews in infantry combat, for they were all too often used in the role of improvised infantry after their tank was lost. He regretted that these troops didn't receive a better infantry training.
Discussions about the physical fitness topic can be quite lively, even if we ignore the petty nation-bashing that's often based on anecdotes and photos of certain overweight troops. Such anecdotes and photos originate in all armies.
I'm in the mood to contribute a bit to this topic, and I think it might be of interest because I've got a rather unusual set of assumptions that leads to an unusual conclusion.
First the assumptions: I am the "great war" guy who's only pro-"war of necessity"; pro-defensive war. It's rather unlikely that NATO or EU will be attacked by an army any time soon, and peripheral interventions are either very unlikely or not something I'd support politically.
This puts us into the very advantageous - outright great - situation of not having to fear a great war in the next maybe two years. We can keep military spending low, take the time to experiment and most importantly: We should prepare.
Prepare for war? Si vis pacem, para bellum?
Not exactly. the situation is likely too good for that. Most allies could instead prepare for the preparations for war. We could (maybe should) prepare our forces for a quick (2 years) expansion (double or triple) which might become necessary sometime in the future to avert war.
Until then, our low force levels would relieve our economies and they might also discourage high military spending in our periphery (doves and hawks usually disagree on the consequences of "easing of tension" a.k.a. "showing weakness" by 180°).
A force expansion plan would probably be a better preparation than a campaign plan for us.
So well, how to apply this "prepare for future expansion" theme to physical fitness?
Don't spend 150-200 hours per year on physical fitness if you could get the same fitness in a matter of weeks or months once the political horizon darkens. The physical fitness of today should be oriented at the peacetime training of today (in part to prevent injuries).
On the other hand, the decision to prepare for war instead of preparing for expansion (any more) should switch a lever: At that time all troops should become physically fit for defensive infantry combat, and those who will necessarily be physically challenged in their assigned jobs should train to a very high level. of physical fitness Physical fitness training guides and equipment should be available. This includes civilian quality gyms (muscle factories) in all barracks. The increased standards should be strictly enforced, beginning in the officer corps, then among NCOs and finally among enlisted troops.
Disclosure: I am no fitness freak at all, I dislike running and I'm bored by marching. My body was never above BMI 25, though. I was a subscriber in a gym for a while and again badly bored. I cancelled my subscription during a much too-hot summer when I temporarily lost all interest in even more sweat-causing activities. I prefer technical martial arts training with some warming up fitness exercises to running and lifting weights any time..