Injured Soldiers May Not Have to Take the Army's New Fitness Test

U.S. Soldiers with the Indiana Army National Guard take the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) at the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, March 15, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard/Tech. Sgt. William Hopper)
U.S. Soldiers with the Indiana Army National Guard take the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) at the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, March 15, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard/Tech. Sgt. William Hopper)

Soldiers with permanent profiles who are unable to complete the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) may be allowed to take an alternate fitness test that could include stationary bike or swimming events, according to a recent service news release.

Senior Army leaders have approved the development of an alternate ACFT for soldiers with long-term injuries who cannot perform the new six-event ACFT, which is scheduled to replace the service's current Army Physical Fitness Test in October 2020.

The Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT) is still developing what could end up being a three-event alternate test and will soon begin evaluating alternate test events at 63 Army units, according to the release. The final determination of alternate standards is not scheduled to be complete until Oct. 1, the release states.

The six-event ACFT is still undergoing a formal field test that should be complete this October. Beginning in October 2020, all soldiers will have to complete the ACFT's strength deadlift; standing power throw; hand-raised pushups; 250-meter sprint, drag and carry; leg tucks; and a two-mile run.

Related content:

If approved, the alternate ACFT could require soldiers with permanent profiles to successfully complete a minimum of three repetitions of the strength deadlift; the sprint, drag and carry; and one aerobic event, such as a 5,000-meter row, a 15,000-meter stationary bike ride or a 1,200-meter swim. The aerobic events are still under evaluation, but the idea is they would have to be completed in a set time, targeted at 25 minutes or less, according to the release.

Army officials, however, have not ruled out requiring injured soldiers to test on all ACFT events within the limits of their profiles, Michael McGurk, CIMT's director of research and analysis, said in the release.

"For example, those permanent profile soldiers who are incapable of running long distances, they could be allowed to complete an alternate aerobic event," McGurk said.

The Army had not initially planned to develop an alternate ACFT for injured soldiers with long-term medical profiles because they would likely be subject to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' deploy-or-out policy, which calls for troops who are nondeployable for more than 12 months to be processed for administrative separation, Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday.

Soldiers with permanent profiles "undergo a Medical Retention Board and Physical Evaluation Boards to determine fitness for further military duty," McGurk said in the release.

"Part of those reviews may be tied to their ability to pass a modified assessment," he said. "This allows commanders to deploy these soldiers 'with risk' and determine if the risk is acceptable based on soldiers' skills and nature of the mission."

Army leaders unveiled the new ACFT last July and stressed that the new test would take soldiers to a new level of fitness.

Last October, the service launched a field test of the ACFT that involves roughly 60 battalions of soldiers. The test has focused on finalizing event techniques and scoring procedures.

Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey said he is "truly excited about the significant progress" made during the testing period for the ACFT, according to the release.

"I truly believe this will take us where we need to be in terms of fitness for the Army," Dailey said in the release. "It's clear the ACFT requires us to put more emphasis on physical training."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

Show Full Article