The 2018 Army Best Medic Competition kicked off before dawn Sept. 17, 2018, by putting the Soldier-medics through the endurance trials of the new Army Combat Fitness Test, on Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

This is the first time the ACFT has been fully implemented into an Army-wide competition since its development and announcement earlier this year. The ACFT consists of six different physical events and is designed to replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test with a gender- and age-neutral assessment based on the physical demands of combat.

Of the 54 competitors participating in the ACFT, it was a mixed bag of who had experience in performing the six components of the new fitness test.

"I do this stuff all the time," said Sgt. 1st Class Adam Pohovey. "I'm not concerned about it at all."
Pohovey, a New Philadelphia, Ohio native, said he welcomes the new fitness test in the Army.

"I think the whole new PT test as a whole is a good change for the Army because it's based more off of how we train versus just train off of endurance," he said. "I think it's great. I'm excited to knock it out."

That excitement carried over into his competitive spirit. Pohovey feels confident he'll place in the top of the pack for the fitness test challenge because as he explains, "This is my jam!"

Other's are experiencing the entire test for the first time.

"I have never taken this test before," said Sgt. Jake Weingartz. "I've done maybe two or three events from it on my own, but I've never taken this test before. And I would say it was definitely harder. It was a whole other beast, a whole other animal."

Weingartz, from Lapeer, Michigan, explained that while he was new to the test components, he felt he did very well and shared tips and techniques with his teammate, Sgt. Stephen Chawporn.
"We both really have a competitive mindset," said Chawporn. "We always aim high, aim for 100 percent and we're going to bring it."

This fitness challenge is just the beginning for the competitors. They will move on to a written test of their Soldier and medic knowledge before beginning an arduous 72-hour hands-on scenario test focused on Prolonged Field Care, Focused Primary Care, and Advanced Trauma Management.

Twenty-seven two-Soldier teams from all around the world travel to Texas to compete in the finals to be named the Army's Best Medic. The competition is a 72-hour grueling test of the teams' physical and mental skills. Competitors must be agile, adaptive leaders who demonstrate mature judgement while testing collective team skills in areas of physical fitness, tactical marksmanship, leadership, warrior skills, land navigation and overall knowledge of medical, technical and tactical proficiencies through a series of hands-on tasks in a simulated, yet realistic tactical, operational environment.