By Mag Reed, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine CommandAugust 2, 2018
FORT EUSTIS, Va. -- The Sony Walkman, the Rubik's Cube and the IBM Personal Computer have one thing in common with the current Army Physical Fitness Test -- they were all invented in 1980. Education and innovation have given way to newer and better ideas, and the new Army Combat Fitness Test is the first of its kind to directly connect the science of fitness, with combat readiness for Soldiers.
As the sun rose over Fort Eustis on Aug. 2, 240 senior leaders from across the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command gathered to witness innovation in action, and experience the new test first hand. From the Standing Power Throw to the Hand Release Push-Up, each of the six events were demonstrated to show Army leaders not only proper grading and technique, but how each event translates to movements on the battlefield.
Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, hosted the event, and explained the direct correlation between the test and a Soldier's success on the battlefield.
"Six years of science and research have gone into the making of the ACFT," Townsend said. "We've studied all the combat tasks that a Soldier has to perform on a battlefield, and we regressed those into common tasks, and we regressed those into exercises that best prepare Soldiers for those tasks."
Research conducted by the Center for Initial Military Training yielded a test that is not only about challenging Soldiers mentally and physically, but inherently changing the entire fitness culture of the Army.
The integration of this test also instills that all Soldiers, no matter age or gender, will be faced with the same basic physical tasks in their military career. The deadlift, for example, engages lower body muscular strength, the same way a Soldier would carry a litter to evacuate a fellow Soldier from combat.
"War doesn't distinguish between gender and age. You can be 20 years old on the battlefield, or you can be 50, and you're going to have to accomplish the same mission. This test helps you execute your warrior tasks and battle drills, no matter who you are," said Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Mitchell, command sergeant major of the Center for Initial Military Training.
Educating leaders is the first step in introducing this test to the Army. CIMT will lead the field testing effort, starting this October, with more than 60 battalions across the active duty Army, Reserve, and National Guard. The field tests will provide the data necessary to determine the specific grading approach and standards.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Ivery, the TRADOC 2017 Platoon Sergeant of the Year, encourages all leaders across the Army to get their Soldiers out of their comfort zones and into a new holistic approach to fitness.
"A leader, at any level, needs to go through and feel what the rigors of this test will put their body through," he said and encouraged leaders to establish a training plan that you can execute together. "Be the example, do the right thing."