ARLINGTON, Va. – Sgt. Maj. John Raines, the command sergeant major of the Army National Guard, joined Brig. Gen. John Kline, commander of the Army’s Center of Initial Military Training, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston in a virtual town hall April 7 to discuss the rollout process for the Army Combat Fitness Test for the Army National Guard.
On March 23, Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth issued the Army directive that outlines the implementation of the ACFT as the Army’s general physical fitness test and replaces the Army Physical Fitness Test as the Army’s official fitness test of record.
However, there are differences for the Army National Guard compared to the Active Component.
Members of the Army’s Reserve Component, including the Army National Guard, will have until March 31, 2023, to complete diagnostic testing. Testing for record will begin April 1, 2023, with a deadline of April 1, 2024.
According to Army Directive 2022-05, which covers the implementation of the ACFT, members of the Active Component and the Reserve Component on active-duty orders over 90 days are required to take a diagnostic test by Sept. 30, 2022, while testing for record will begin Oct. 1, 2022. Soldiers will be required to take an ACFT for record from Oct. 1, 2022, to April 1, 2023.
The directive also states that in any instance where the Soldier passes the diagnostic ACFT before April 1, 2023, the Soldier may elect to have the test recharacterized as a record ACFT.
“The ACFT is a little more intensive as far as the requirements and number of instructors needed to administer the test,” Raines said. “Guard units will have to look at how big their units are and whether or not they’ll have to break down their units’ testing days so it doesn’t take up an entire drill weekend.”
Raines also explained how it took time to design and implement the ACFT.
“We have been trying to get to a new physical assessment to be a better predictor of our performance in combat for the past three years,” Raines said. “We did our studies, research, collected data and now we have a test to be fully implemented.”
Grinston spoke about transitioning from the previous APFT to the new ACFT and the Army’s goals in making the change.
“We had the same physical fitness test for 40 years,” Grinston said. “We finally have a change, and the goal of this program is to reduce injuries. The ACFT measures your functional fitness, muscular endurance, strength, power, flexibility, agility and aerobic capacity.”
Soldiers attending the hour-long town hall asked questions virtually about the timeline for implementing official scores for the ACFT.
“On April 1, 2022, we began the timeline for the diagnostic ACFT test,” said Grinston. “October 1, 2022, will be the official start for processing scores for the test for all Soldiers in the Active Guard Reserves and Active Components. From April to October 2022, Soldiers will be able to take the steps toward training improvements to pass the test.”
Grinston and Raines also addressed questions about age and gender scoring standards.
“During our studies for the test, it was recommended that we use an age and gender-normal test instead of gender-neutral,” Grinston said. “There are plenty of things in the test that are age and gender-neutral while still treating everyone equally and being physically demanding.”
The ACFT is comprised of six events: the maximum deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release push-up, sprint-drag-carry, plank and 2-mile run. The ACFT also uses a new scoring scale designed from nearly 630,000 diagnostic ACFT performance scores. Similar to the APFT’s age and gender-normed scale, Soldiers will have to attain a minimum score of 60 points out of 100 on each event to pass.
Grinston voiced his support for the transformation of the ACFT.
“I’m really proud to say we’ve got the ACFT,” Grinston said. “It’s been in development for many years, independently reviewed and it’s evolved over time into what we have right now.”