Canadian Forces corporals perform a fitness test during a leadership training program. The military says that it has dropped its physical fitness requirement for new recruits, effective Oct. 1, 2006. ((Cpl. Eugene Chosa/DND))

Canada's military has dropped its physical fitness requirement for new recruits, saying it will take responsibility for whipping prospective soldiers into shape.

A notice posted on the Canadian Forces recruitment website says that effective Oct. 1, 2006, the physical fitness test is eliminated from the selection process.

"The Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School will be responsible for assessing physical fitness and will implement a program to assist new enrollees to reach an acceptable level of physical fitness prior to commencing basic training," says the notice.

To meet basic minimum requirements, people wanting to join the forces must have Canadian citizenship, be at least 17 years old and have completed Grade 10.

The change comes amid confusion surrounding suggestions that members of the Air Force or Navy could be called on to serve in combat roles on the ground in Afghanistan, where Canadian troops will be until 2009. Rotating deployments ofroughly 2,000 have been in the country for the past four years.

Canada's top soldier, Gen. Rick Hillier told a House of Commons committee that the military was considering "re-roling," but Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor says soldiers and sailors won't be turned into infantry.

Fitness guide on website

A fitness guide for new applicants remains on the Canadian Forces recruitment website for those wishing to "self-evaluate and increase their physical fitness level."

A video on the website demonstrates the proper method of doing sit-ups, push-ups and how best to train for a running test, which past applicants had to complete during the test.

Under the previous fitness test, men under 35 had to be able to do 19 push-ups, 19 sit-ups and run 2.4 kilometres in just under 12 minutes.

Whether it's in hot deserts or Arctic glaciers, "you must be able to give everything you've got. For some, it could be a matter of survival," says the instructor on the video.

"Don't be content with achieving the minimum standard."