Soldier Center works with Syracuse Recruiting Battalion to improve Army Combat Fitness Test performance

By Jane Benson, CCDC Soldier Center Public AffairsApril 17, 2020

NATICK, Mass. – Researchers at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center’s Soldier Performance Optimization Directorate are working with the U.S. Army Syracuse Recruiting Battalion to improve performance on the Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT.

Researchers completed the first segment of a unit physical performance training and measurement test plan on Soldiers from across the battalion in February and further analysis and delivery of data to the unit command team is planned in the future.

Kevin O’Fallon, Ph.D., a research physiologist at CCDC SC, explained that the information is being relayed to the unit command team’s ACFT test officer in charge (OIC)/noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) for possible feedback/improvements.

“Our test plan is a mutually beneficial and iterative process with the unit, and feedback and improvements on both sides are at the heart of our engagement,” said O’Fallon.

Data from the unit physical performance test plan will also help advance the Measuring and Advancing Soldier Tactical Readiness and Effectiveness, or MASTR-E, program. Led by the CCDC Soldier Center, MASTR-E is a large-scale effort that measures, predicts, and enhances close combat performance with sensors, data-driven decision aids, and targeted interventions to maximize Soldier lethality. CCDC SC is working with several military, academic, and industry partners on the effort. The goal of the MASTR-E program is to characterize and predict Soldier cognitive and physical performance under operationally relevant conditions.

During the initial event with the Syracuse Recruiting Battalion, members of CCDC SC’s MASTR-E Applications team issued physiological status monitors and ACFT equipment to Soldiers in the battalion and trained them on how to conduct the ACFT. The CCDC SC team showed the battalion staff how to monitor Soldier fitness data, workouts, and sleep data.

CCDC SC is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. CCDC SC supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the CCDC SC’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. CCDC SC is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.

During the event with the Syracuse Recruiting Battalion, CCDC SC researchers also gathered all-important Soldier feedback.

“The entire team learned a lot while achieving a baseline for our ACFT performance,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joe Hochenberger. “I am excited to utilize the tools and expertise provided by CCDC SC to assist me in reaching my physical goals.”

“Definitely fun and I am excited to incorporate the lessons learned into future training for the ACFT,” said Sgt. 1st Class Carl Ellsworth.

O’Fallon noted that the battalion is excited to work with CCDC SC on the Soldier performance initiative and to incorporate data-driven knowledge into physical readiness plans.

The use of sensors and resultant data will help Soldiers monitor their own performance and help leaders with decision making. As part of the ongoing effort, the Soldiers will continue wearing the issued sensors and CCDC SC’s MASTR-E Applications Team will monitor and periodically report the data to unit leaders and develop personalized fitness tips and programs.

The February event with the battalion is an important step forward in achieving MASTR-E program goals of measuring, predicting, and enhancing Soldier performance.

O’Fallon and William Harris, a researcher on the MASTR-E Applications team, explained that the event presented an opportunity “to assess how the introduction of data through wearable sensors will drive behavior changes, present actionable information to commanders for support in making decisions, and improve performance.”