The Army’s current Physical Fitness (PT) standard is having its last rounds. Come 2020, the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) test will take effect. And now the Army has revealed the long-awaited standards for the combat-oriented test.

To ace the ACFT, which is tailored for every Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), Soldiers must:

  • Perform a 340 lbs trap bar (or hex bar) deadlift
  • Throw a medicine ball at least 12.5 meters away
  • Perform 60 hand-release push-ups
  • Perform 20 leg tucks while hanging from a pull-up bar
  • Complete the sprint-drag-carry event in 1:33 or less
  • Run two miles in less than 13:30

Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, the most senior enlisted Soldier, said that “Physical fitness is fundamental to sustained Army readiness. We must have highly trained, disciplined and physically fit Soldiers capable of winning on any battlefield. The ACFT, specifically linked to common warfighting tasks, will help us assess and improve the individual readiness of the force.”

To establish the new ACFT standards, the Army consulted sports science data. Over 17,000 Soldiers from 64 battalions from across the Army (both in terms of MOS and component, i.e., Active Duty, Reserves, National Guard) participated in the designing process.

On October 1st, units will take their first ACFT. But scores will not be calculated as this is a test-fire. The test will act as a diagnostic event for Army leaders. The standards, however, are unlikely to change whatever the results of the first diagnostic ACFT.

Command Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Perry III, the senior enlisted Soldier of United States Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM), acknowledged that the ACFT might result in injuries among Soldiers who might not be familiar with the some of the required exercises. He said that CASCOM, which has been pioneering the project, is “working hand-in-hand with the physical therapy personnel at Kenner (Army Health Clinic), what we’ve found is there is so much anticipation, Soldiers want to get out there and just execute. They are going in and getting after it – and I appreciate their energy and effort – but the test is so different, it requires a deliberate approach by Soldiers to train the various muscle groups because the ACFT is rather cumulative. Over a relatively short period of time, you’re going to knock out six demanding and very physical events.”

The deficiencies of the current PT test are well-known. Someone could ace the three-event test but still struggle in the field. The ACFT is a great step forward. And yet it still falls short in some respects. Notable with its absence from the new test is rucking. Carrying heavy loads for an unknown distance is a key warfighting skill. Despite the tremendous mobility and technological advancements in the U.S. military, wars are still being predominately fought by soldiers carrying heavy loads on their backs on plains, up mountains, in the jungle. Although most units have their own rucking standard (12 miles in 3 hours, which translates into a 15 minute/mile pace), the fact that it isn’t a required event in the ACFT might give the wrong impression to Soldiers but also potential foreign adversaries about the Army’s combat readiness.

You can read the complete list of standards here.

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