The United States Army has been pilot-testing its new six-event fitness assessment since late 2018, and officials are already planning to launch an alternative assessment for soldiers who are permanently unable to complete the standard test.
The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), expected to go into full effect in October 2020, is influenced by current high-intensity interval training and strength-training trends and evaluates competency for deadlifts, leg tucks and T-push-ups, among other exercises. The U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT) is using data from the ACFT's pilot phase to fine-tune the final version of the assessment.
For injured or disabled soldiers, the ACFT's six events will be reduced to three with several additional options for assessing a soldier’s aerobic fitness. The additional options include a three-repetition dead lift, a sprint-drag-carry course and the choice of a 1,200-meter swim, a 5,000-meter row or a 15,000-meter bike ride.
“We have to realize that there are some cases where we may choose to deploy soldiers who are not fully capable to do all the soldier tasks as the test is designed,” Michael McGurk, director of Research & Analysis at the CIMT, told Army Times on May 20.
Sixty-three battalions are participating in the ACFT's pilot phase, and profiled soldiers from those battalions will be the first to participate in the alternative assessment. The new test is designed only for those soldiers who are permanently prevented from properly completing the push-ups, leg tucks and power throws in the standard test, McGurk told Army Times.
Soldiers who are temporarily injured or disabled will focus on recovery as opposed to training and will not be subjected to the new test.
"The whole premise behind the Holistic Health and Fitness system and the Army Combat Fitness Test is one about reconditioning and rehabilitation,” McGurk said. “So, if someone is injured or hurt because of something that has challenged them—they’ve had a knee surgery or something—they don’t need to take another test because they took one prior to this happening, certainly.”
The ACFT, formerly known as the Army Combat Readiness Test, is the first update to the branch’s fitness training standards in nearly four decades.