London, Great Britain— In an unanticipated—and highly refreshing—move, the British army is going to change its fitness tests to reflect the rigors of combat.
The new tests will ditch gender and age considerations to ensure the all personnel designated for close combat duties will be up to the task.
“I don’t care if you are a man or a woman, I don’t care what you do, and the enemy doesn’t either,” said Field Army Sergeant Major Gavin Paton, the highest ranked enlisted man in the British Army.
The new tests will be implemented in 2019. They were developed by the Army in cooperation with a team of researchers from the University of Chichester over a period of three years. The developers considered real-life scenarios from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The tests will replicate realistic combat scenarios and tasks. For example, soldiers will have to carry casualty stretchers, ammunition boxes, and heavy weaponry across fields. The aim is to enhance the confidence and ability of soldiers to react and succeed in a combat environment.
Although the new tests will be gender and age-blind, they have received support from female soldiers. Lance Corporal Nicola Cotton said that “I think it is about time we upped the ante and make it equal and not make allowances for gender or age. People underestimate females in the British army.”
Here is what the new tests will look like: First, a 4km speed march with 88 pounds of equipment in less than 40 minutes. Second, a 2km speed march with 55 pounds of gear in under 15 minutes. Then, soldiers will have to successfully complete a fire-and-move scenario in under five minutes. The fire-drill will be followed by a 20 meter drag of a 240 pounds dummy, replicating a combat casualty.
Those that made it through will then have to carry two 50 pound water cans over 250 meters in less than four minutes and then lift and hold a 155 pounds weight for three seconds. Finally, they will have to carry 45 pound duffel bags 20 times over a 30 meters distance.
In comparison, the old combat fitness assessment test made soldiers do push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a run. Surprisingly, the British army hadn’t altered its fitness tests of over 20 years.
Until now, the only place one could find an age-blind fitness test was in Special Operations. The Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Service (SBS), Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR)—which recruits females—the Parachute Regiment, and the Royal Marines each have a common fitness standard for all ages.
Building on the momentum, the British army will also change its entry fitness test requirements.