LEXINGTON, Va., March 12, 2019--VMI's Marshall-New Market Battalion is the only Army ROTC unit in the nation to participate in testing out the Army Combat Fitness Test that will soon be required for every soldier in the U.S. Army.

On Friday and Monday, cadets gathered on the fields above Foster Stadium to conduct field tests of the ACFT. Those tests built on December's cadre training conducted at VMI by the Center for Initial Military Training's mobile training team based in Fort Eustis, Virginia.

On hand for Monday's field test were two members of that same training team, Maj. Joseph Flores and Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Brown.

"We trained the cadre, so we wanted to see if our training held firm. It looks like it has," said Flores. "It's good for VMI because they're leading the way across all of the universities in regards to cadet command. I don't think any other school was chosen as a field test battalion, so VMI leads the way."

The new test is designed to better gauge combat readiness and will be implemented this October, when the entire Army takes two not-for-record tests. The ACFT will replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test no later than October 2020.

"There's a rough draft of what the Army Combat Fitness Test is right now, and we're validating that throughout the Army between now and Oct. 1," explained Maj. Brandon Lindsey, military science instructor in VMI's Army ROTC battalion.

Whereas the old test had three elements--push-ups, sit-ups, and a two-mile run--the new test has six. Those components are a three-repetition maximum deadlift, a standing power throw with a 10-pound ball, hand release push-ups with hands off the ground between each effort, a sprint-drag-carry event, leg tucks, and a two-mile run. Those being tested having 70 minutes to complete all of the activities.

"It looks like they're conducting it to standard," observed Brown. "Looks like they're having some fun doing it here, so everything's good."

The new test "allowed us to show off our athleticism as cadets," said Austin Barrette '21, a linebacker for the Keydet football team. "The different variations of sprints and pulls allowed us to display what we as future officers need to have for our potential jobs. It provides a more well-rounded test."

Agreeing with Barrette about the benefits of the new test was Isaiah Domio '20, "It was something new, something different." Domio noted that the hand release pushups made him focus more on form than do standard pushups and provided a better test of upper body strength.

Like many of the cadets who participated in trying out the new test, Domio is looking beyond commissioning, when the soldiers under his command will be taking the test.

"I'm excited for the new direction, and I can't wait to lead a platoon as an officer," Domio concluded.