FORT KNOX, Ky. (Sept. 27, 2018) -- Hundreds of Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps leadership and instructors from across the country were given a chance to learn about and experience the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) during two hands-on demonstrations at Fort Knox Sept. 26-27.
The new six-event test was recently approved by the Army, and will be introduced over the next two years, starting with field testing this October. It will replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test which has been in use since 1980.
Maj. Gen. John Evans, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, said he wanted to provide his ROTC instructors an opportunity to see and experience the possible challenges the new test will bring with it.
"Our Soldiers need to be more fit and more lethal. The legacy Army Physical Fitness Test was not encouraging or motivating us to train the right way. This test incorporates a total body fitness aspect, it works all of the muscle groups required for combat tasks. So it really replicates some of the challenges that we have seen Soldiers go through over the last 17 years of combat," he explained. " It's really a combination of what we've learned over the past 30 or 40 years from a physiological standpoint, taking those things we know Soldiers are going to have to do in combat, and combining those to build a training regiment that will support better overall fitness."
"What we are trying to do with the test is drive a culture of fitness in the Army. It's not changing the test for the test's sake -- it's changing the test so that we can drive change toward fitness," Evans added. "We are trying to change the culture, which is extremely important for Cadet Command because we are the people who bring in the bulk of the Army's officer force."
Evans said he thinks getting Soldiers exposed to the new test as early as possible will help make the eventual transition to it across the Army smoother.
"We've (Army leadership) just recently introduced the test to the Army, so we are looking to implement it rather quickly. There some concerns about that because we want to do that safely, and we want to give our cadets and our Soldiers an objective and a guideline they can train to because you can hurt yourself doing these types of exercises if you don't know what you are doing. So we have to make sure we are training people properly as they are training up for this test," he said.
The test is gender- and age- neutral, focusing on physical standards that all soldiers need to be able to demonstrate in a combat environment. Combat does not distinguish between men and women, or someone who is 20 or 50. This test is designed to be predictive of a Soldier's ability to perform what we call Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, or physical tasks that all soldiers must be able to conduct regardless of their job in the Army. The test represents a significant shift in the fitness culture of our Army.