We’re getting closer to 2022 – when the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) will be fully implemented. Advocates for the change argue that replacing the APFT with the ACFT makes the Army better equipped in combat. While the old test was simple and straightforward, the new one adds more complexity. However, many veterans have said that they were underprepared for combat and they now have back problems, so they consider the ACFT the answer to that problem. Perhaps that’s true, but critics have argued that a few problems with the old test shouldn’t mean a complicated and costly overhaul.

Weekend Diagnostic Test

But the proof for any arguments come with proven results – without that, it’s a lot of noise without any solutions. Soldiers assigned to the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command and 84th Training Division conducted a diagnostic ACFT July 10 and 11 during their weekend training. According to the Army, all Reserves have until August 31 to take the test and enter scores into the Digital Training Management System (DTMS).

For the weekend exercise, in order to complete the test, Master Sgt. Laroy G. Warren said that he had to move 700 lbs. of equipment with a forklift. Warren didn’t explain how the soldiers prepared for the test without the 700 lbs. of equipment regularly available. No news on when results for Reserves will be shared.

As a reminder, the ACFT consists of six events: the three-repetition Maximum Deadlift, Standing Power Throw, Hand-Release Push Ups, Sprint-Drag-Carry, Leg Tuck or Plank, and the Two-Mile Run. Active Duty and Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Soldiers are required to take the ACFT twice a year, and Reserve and Guard Soldiers take in once a year.

Despite the logistical issues of moving major equipment, Warren gave the test glowing reviews, saying, “(The ACFT) allows you to be healthy as far as exercising and is a game changer as far as total body fitness. You got your cardio. You got your strength training. You got everything encompassed. As far as the old test, it didn’t really measure your endurance and strength.”

Answering the Independent Study

The Army’s message has been consistent: change is coming, so take the test. In the meantime, updates have rolled out on scoring and a plank option instead of the leg tuck., but the Army needs data. This past winter, Congress was tracking the ACFT and added language on the defense bill for the Army to have an independent study conducted in order to ensure that recruitment and retention efforts aren’t impacted. Additionally,  the study looks on the effects on medical personnel, reserves, guard, and soldiers stationed in remote locations. Once Army gets the green light, they can proceed.

It’s not like the Army is alone in making changes to their physical fitness tests. The Air Force also updated its PT Test; however, they chose to bring their testing back online this month with the old test still in place with modifications and adjustments. One key change the Air Force made was to remove the waist measurement component of the test. Time will tell if the Army also removes its tape test after it reviews it this fall.


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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.