The Army will be testing out a new APFT (Army physical fitness test) this summer in hopes that it will successfully match new soldiers’ physical capabilities with those required to function within their MOS (military occupational specialties). The new test will be called the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT. It consists of a long jump, weighted throw, deadlift, and aerobic exercise (sprints were in the video).

Looking at the new test as a former operations officer (kinda boring admin stuff, but applicable), here’s what I think.

The OPAT will help the Army with placing new soldiers with more realistic MOS positions. However, if they were like me when I joined the Army, I started at level zero for physical fitness. Sure, I worked out, but not to the level I needed to be at for basic training and AIT (advanced individual training). Let’s just say basic training was an eye-opener for me. It wasn’t until later on in my career that I really took it seriously. The recruiters within the high schools will really have to start pushing physical fitness to get the recruits in their top MOS choices.

Administration-wise, this will also help the receiving unit, especially for the National Guard and Reserve. Oftentimes the National Guard and Reserve will have young high school students split up their basic and AIT training. If a soldier cannot pass an APFT, the soldier cannot go to their AIT. That untrained soldier is sitting in a spot that someone else can be filling, which alters the unit’s strength percentage. Ultimately, if they cannot perform, then they will get booted out of the Army.

The OPAT may reduce temporary and permanent profiles (a profile prevents you from doing physical activities related to your type of injury). Believe it or not, people fib at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) and enter into a contract with a prior injury that may prevent them from successfully performing their duties. It is very frustrating to receive a new soldier, fresh from basic training or AIT, with a temporary or permanent profile. This also alters a unit’s strength for deployments.

I wish this test would have been implemented earlier. It could have saved the Army time and money.

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Here is a video describing the OPAT:

Image courtesy of Army Times