Eighty officers and NCOs assigned to a variety of Belvoir units learned from visiting senior subject-matter experts from the U.S. Physical Fitness School how to train for the new Army Combat Fitness Test and become certified to prepare Soldiers in their units to pass the evaluation. The four-day program ran this week on Fort Belvoir.

A little more than a year ago, the Army approved a new fitness test to replace the long-standing Army Physical Fitness Test. The ACFT was unveiled by command leadership in October 2018. In contrast to the former test's three events (which included two minutes of pushups, two minutes of sit ups and a timed, two-mile run), the gender-neutral ACFT includes six events: three-repetition maximum deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release pushups, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck and a two-mile run. According to a recent Army memo, the purpose of the training this week was "to ensure personnel are trained on the ACFT administrative requirements, as well as how to perform, conduct and grade the new test."

The ACFT better prepares Soldiers for combat tasks, and transforms the Army's fitness culture, reduces preventable injuries, enhances mental toughness and stamina and reduces overall costs. The more-strenuous ACFT is designed to provide a better measurement of readiness among military personnel.

"Today, we're training for the ACFT and giving them the ability to go forward and train their troops to validate and certify them as NCOICs, OICs or (performance) graders," said Staff Sgt. Kyle Steph, an instructor from the U.S. Physical Fitness School. "This is like a force multiplier, getting as many people out into the force, so they can train and teach this test, as well."

The Soldiers gathered on Fremont Field Tuesday morning to get a hands-on feel for all six of the new fitness requirements as ACFT master trainers oversaw each of the "stations" and evaluated each participant's performance.

In comparison to the old test, the ACFT is shaping up to be a far more focused and comprehensive measurement of a Soldier's physical abilities, said Master Sgt. Vanessa Carides, Intelligence and Security Command, who has been in the Army for 19 years.

"I think this new test is better than the old PT test," she said after completing the evaluation, Tuesday. "It is harder, and, at first, I could barely complete the events. But I think, if we practice it enough, we'll get it . . . and I think the Army is on the right track with this. I think it will better prepare Soldiers for the possible requirements of combat, because it targets all the different areas of the body. It's multiple-target exercise that's geared towards the field environment."

For more information about the ACFT, visit www.army.mil/acft.