By Sgt. 1st Class Javier OronaJanuary 16, 2019
AUSTIN, Texas -- Lt. Gen. Charles D. Luckey, chief of Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command, and United States Army Reserve Soldiers from multiple units participated in the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) Pilot Program, Jan. 10, 2019, at the Austin Armed Forces Reserve Center in Austin, Texas.
The new test, approved by Army senior leaders last year, was created to better prepare Soldiers for combat-related tasks and will replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) beginning October 2020.
"This test gives us a great opportunity to not only get more physically fit, but also replicate the types of tasks that we would have to do in combat," Luckey said. "It's a very powerful tool, both from a readiness perspective and from a combat effectiveness perspective."
According to the Army's ACFT microsite (www.army.mil/acft), the pilot program will be executed in three stages to guarantee Soldiers are afforded the opportunity to prepare for the transition. The first stage, a user Field Test, began in October 2018 and includes about 60 battalion-sized units. The results will be utilized to help enhance administration and scoring of the ACFT. From March through October 2019, selected units will take two not-for-record ACFTs. Initial implementation will begin in October 2019. The entire Army will take two not-for-record ACFTs approximately six months apart. Finally, in October 2020, the ACFT will become the Army's physical test of record.
The ACFT is a six-event test that is age- and gender-neutral. The ACFT is designed to provide Soldiers with a modern assessment of their physical fitness and help them maintain a high level of fitness while ensuring they are capable of handling physically demanding combat situations.
The events each Soldier must complete are: Three Repetition Maximum Deadlift (MDL), Standing Power Throw (SPT), Hand-Release Push-Up (HRP), Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC), Leg Tuck (LTK), and a Two-Mile Run (2MR). According to a July 10, 2018 article entitled "10 Answers Soldiers want to know about the new ACFT," the Army is studying alternative events for Soldiers on temporary or permanent profiles, but the final policy is yet to be determined.
Luckey said Soldiers have a responsibility to message "what right looks like" in American culture and society. He stated that doing so has never been more important than it is right now and that the ACFT will help with that message.
The test requires a fair amount of equipment that is not currently available at every unit. Army senior leaders are working to get the equipment out to units as soon as possible.
"One of the challenges we are going to have is executing this task at scale," Luckey said. "That's part of why we're here working closely with the team from TRADOC (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command) to ensure we give our Soldiers the opportunity to execute this task fairly and efficiently."
A cadre of certified ACFT instructors were at the Austin event to address many of the concerns about the test expressed by the Soldiers in attendance.
"The field testing is going very well, Soldiers are doing much better than they thought they would be doing," said Staff Sgt. Krystal Heller, ACFT instructor at the leader-training brigade, United States Army Physical Fitness Center, Fort Jackson, South Carolina "Their performance is great, and I'm noticing that many of them actually walk out saying they had a lot of fun."
Units will begin implementing the ACFT after the one-year field-testing phase ends in October 2019.
"We're going to make sure you get the tools you need, the application on your phone, and that you learn the techniques which will work for you," Luckey said. "This is going to build readiness, and it's the future for the United States Army and Army Reserve."
For more information about the ACFT, you can visit the Army's microsite at www.army.mil/acft or the U.S. Army Reserve's microsite at www.usar.army.mil/acft.