By Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson LeaderJanuary 28, 2010
FORT JACKSON, SC -- For years, the Army has used a standardized test to evaluate Soldiers' physical fitness. The newly designed Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program goes beyond that by implementing a method to evaluate the force's fitness in the areas of emotional, social, spiritual and family strength.
The Global Assessment Tool (GAT) is a confidential online questionnaire that provides Soldiers with a baseline in those four dimensions of strength and allows them to track their growth in these areas over time.
"The Global Assessment Tool is really ... like the PT test for mental health. It looks at your social, emotional, family and spiritual strength," said Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, director of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, during a visit to Fort Jackson in July. "The reason that's important is ... not everybody needs the same education and training at the same time in their life. So this will help people do two things. It will give people an understanding of where they are and where they need to improve. It will then direct them to either online or local training, depending upon where they live, that would help them to improve in those areas specifically. So the training you will get if you're in the low end will be different than the training you will get if you're in the high end."
Soldiers will be required to take their first GAT by May and then again every two years or 120 days following a deployment. The Army's plans also call for new Soldiers to take their first GAT during Basic Combat Training.
Fort Jackson is in the process of renovating a building to serve as a GAT facility for basic training Soldiers.
"The requirement - in terms of equipment - is to establish a minimum of 120 computer stations," said Duane Myers, Fort Jackson communication officer. "Those computer stations will have a kiosk software loaded on them, [and] the Soldier will come in, stick in his common access card and log on - and the only item that will pop up is the GAT survey via the Web site."
The GAT facility will allow 120 Soldiers, or two platoons, to take the assessment at the same time. At this point, it has not been decided during what phase of basic training Soldiers will take the GAT, Fort Jackson officials said.
Taking the GAT will take approximately 20 minutes. The survey consists of about 100 multiple choice questions. At the end of the test, a bar chart indicates a Soldier's strength level in each of the four dimensions.
"It was a surprise," said one Fort Jackson Soldier, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "I thought I was strong spiritually, but my spirituality ranked lower than I expected."
After finishing the survey, Soldiers can take individualized education modules to strengthen their resiliency in each area. Referral to local services that can help with enhancing certain skill sets are also available.
The individual results of the GAT are confidential. However, leaders will receive a composite result on how their unit is scoring in each strength dimension, which allows them to implement training programs in those areas.
To access the GAT, visit http://www.army.mil/csf/