MG James M. Milano

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- I feel as though we’re putting the cart ahead of the horse when I hear talk about whether a Soldier can pass the new PT test. The experts at the Physical Readiness Division will tell you that they are still in a data collection mode and only one-third of the way there -- all of which means that the events of the test themselves are not yet set in stone.

Rather than worry about a test that is still in the works, Soldiers should be thinking about how much better the new test will be to measure overall fitness, now that physical training has become more relevant for them. Remember that we are developing a system of training that relates to performance, particularly as it relates to combat.

Think back a few years, when we first began an intensive review of our initial military training. We determined that we wanted to develop a physical training program geared to increase the fitness of new Soldiers so that they would be ready for a more rigorous PT routine once they reached the operational force.

We wanted PT that was relevant and at the same time sought to balance the goal of increasing capabilities while limiting the number of injuries that occur. It was also important to take a positive approach and make the PT portable in a sense that we want Soldiers to improve and maintain the established level of fitness once they depart to their new duty stations.

It’s a system of training in phases, all the while ensuring that Soldiers are always prepared for a wartime mission.

In a few words, PT would become relevant and something to which Soldiers could relate. For example, in the past, when a Soldier did plain-old sit-ups and push-ups, he or she didn’t associate that particular exercise with anything that fell within his or her duties as a Soldier. Now when a Soldier does, for example, climbing drills or runs short sprints, the connection may not be made right away, but eventually he or she will recognize that the new regimen fits in with Soldiering when in combat or competing for an expert badge.

The rationale behind the new Physical Readiness Training program is consistent with the initial military training objective that Army leadership has in mind with core Soldiering skills. This is a quantum leap forward and bears little resemblance to how we viewed repetitions of various exercises in the past -- although some of the same exercises, such as the push-up, are part of the new regimen but with modified times and restrictions.

Let me explain further. A Soldier who currently does 60 or 70 push-ups in two minutes the old way we did things, might find him or herself struggling to do 30 in one minute the new way with not being able to adjust the hands or take a short break to re-energize.

Perhaps that’s why there has been some stressing over what it will take to pass the new Army Physical Readiness Test and specifically what scores a Soldier will need in every event. The new APRT is made up of five events: A 60-yard shuttle run, one minute of the rower, standing long jump, push-ups for one minute and a 1.5 mile run. But, again, the events are subject to change once the piloting is done in September and the data is processed.

Let me let you in on a little secret and also offer you a bit of advice: Never sweat a test if you have correctly prepared. If you studied the training circular (TC3-22.20 that replaced FM 21-20) -- which has been out for a year -- and you have your head in the game and have applied yourself, it’s not a question of passing, but rather how well you will do.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to take some work and concentration to pass the new test or any other test. You will need to get in shape and familiarize yourself with the new components of the test, and then practice.

The new test is a more accurate muscular strength, endurance and mobility assessment, particularly as it relates to those skills necessary to survive in combat. But in the end, the new test, which -- I repeat again -- is still in the trial phase and subject to some tweaking before anything is finalized and implemented, will give unit leaders a better idea of a Soldier’s physical readiness, to a much greater extent than the old test, developed way back in the late 1970s and implemented Army-wide in 1980.

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Page last updated Thu August 11th, 2011 at 00:00