Field testing for the newly developed Army Combat Fitness Test is underway, with roughly 60 battalions chosen from across the active, Reserve and National Guard forces participating.
In an interview, director of research and analysis at the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training Michael McGurk told Military.com, “It became evident to us a number of years ago it was time for us to look at modifications or changes to the test.”
According to McGurk, developing a more relevant assessment has involved a close examination of the basic tasks that make a soldier successful on the battlefield. “That’s a big change for a lot of people,” he said, “but we believe it’s a change in the right direction.”
The ACFT will no longer take into account gender, age or height, but will make considerations for military occupational specialties — for example, minimum lifting requirements and other select tasks may vary significantly for infantry soldiers and military x-ray technicians.
The test is based on a measurement of six principles: power, muscular endurance, muscle strength, speed, agility and cardio endurance, as well as four secondary physical domains: balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time.
McGurk said the test is designed as a full-body workout with a focus on managing energy. “When you're in military operations, you never know what's coming next. You need to know how to manage your energy system,” he said.
The current phase of field testing will determine what adjustments need to be made and how the new set of standards will be scored. Participating units have been issued testing equipment including dead-lift bars with weights, balls to throw, sleds and kettle bells.
After a full year of field testing, the entire active-duty Army, Reserve units and the National Guard will complete a diagnostics phase. Final adjustments are expected to be made by Oct. 1,2020.