By Capt. Jedidah Schlissel, D Battery, 1st Battalion, 31st Field ArtilleryMay 17, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla. (May 17, 2018) -- During cycle reset, drill sergeants never stop training. Cadre from D Battery, 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery hosted the proposed Army Combat Readiness Test (ACRT) to familiarize Soldiers across the battalion with the Army's future fitness paradigm.
The event consisted of a demonstration and brief April 26, and the test's execution April 27. Participants included battalion leadership and cadre from different batteries across the battalion, as well as basic combat trainees.
All participants were eager to get a sense of the direction for which the Army is headed with physical fitness. The new approach to physical assessment, as is clear from the test's title, ties in closely with specific warrior tasks and battle drills (WTBDs).
This proposed test, comprised of six events: dead lift, standing power throw, T-pushup, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck and 2-mile run, is much more dynamic in its scope, compared to the Army's current assessment (the Army Physical Fitness Test). The new approach is more geared toward functional fitness, a shift the Army has already begun to make.
Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Michael Hnat, a grader and the 2018 Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) Drill Sergeant of the Year expressed his view of the new test.
"It clearly requires a formal shift in the way the Army prepares Soldiers and units to train, as the various events require the use of weights and equipment, and undoubtedly practiced technique," he said.
Senior Drill Sergeant (Sgt. 1st Class) Francisco Soto was the driving force in organizing and coordinating the two-day administration. He explained to the formation some direct correlations between the events in the proposed ACRT and how they are tied to specific WTBDs.
"The trap bar dead lift is relevant because you utilize muscular strength that mimics movements required to safely and effectively lift heavy loads from the ground," said Soto. "Additionally, the ACRT can be tied to several WTBDs such as when a Soldier has to lift and carry a casualty on a litter, Skedco, or to just lift personnel and equipment from one location to another."
At basic combat training during medical training lanes, trainees are taught the different methods of how to carry a casualty. Soto said, "Workouts, such as the dead lift, can significantly prepare a Soldier to execute such tasks."
As a second example, he explained that the shuttle sprint-drag-carry measures muscular strength and anaerobic endurance. It pushes the exerciser to exert effort at high levels of intensity for short periods of time.
"This exercise is linked specifically to a Soldier's ability to react to direct and indirect fire throughout all of the field training exercises at BCT," said Soto.
He added, indirectly, it can be linked to medical training lanes when extracting casualties from vehicles and transporting or dragging a battle buddy to safety.
The ACRT, though currently undergoing refinement, even when used in this setting as an assessment has been an eye opener to those in the formation.
"We must open people's eyes so that young Soldiers start training for these events. We shouldn't be blindsided as an Army after becoming so accustomed to the current fitness test," said Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Michael Davies, a grader for the week's ACRT.
Hnat said it was good to have a cross section of all Soldiers in the battalion participate.
"It allowed for a good assessment and for Soldiers with different experiences and backgrounds to execute and give honest feedback," said Hnat.
In talking about importance of having trainee involvement, Davies said, "Trainees were enlightened to the fact that they'll have to get in the gym and actually train, do dead lifts, lift weights not just use bodyweight as a means of getting Army fit."
Soto spoke of the battalion's efforts to push physical fitness and to train with the understanding that cadre and basic trainees are athletes with weapons.
"Incorporating functional fitness, both during our cycle reset PT sessions and during in-cycle opportunity PT will significantly increase lethality of our formation," he said.