LOS ANGELES –
Soldiers from the 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) were given Army Combat Fitness Test training in order to be ready for the forthcoming fitness test standards set forth by the United States Army, in the 311th ESC drill hall July 7.
Taught by Master Sgt. Joseph Gontarek, 311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command master fitness trainer, this new fitness test was designed to better reflect the stresses of a combat environment, to address the poor physical fitness of recruits, and to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries for service members when they encounter real world situations.
“The reason why they developed this test was because the old test didn’t measure a Soldier’s ability to perform in a combat environment,” said 1st Sgt. James Chavez, 311th ESC MSE first sergeant. “When we had to actually perform these tasks, we could see the difference between the old and new physical tests.”
First, Gontarek conduct a seminar in a classroom environment, where he diligently went over every aspect of the ACFT test. This new standard was developed to more closely measure "combat-readiness," after it was found that more battlefield evacuations were performed during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan due to musculoskeletal injuries. This new standard has events that reflex what can happen on the battle ground.
The ACFT is intended to more closely mimic physical tasks and stresses associated with combat, and it is designed to measure power, speed, agility, muscular balance and aerobic endurance. It consists of six events completed over the course of 50 minutes. There is the three-rep deadlift, a 10 pound backward and overhead medicine ball throw, hand-release push-ups over a period of two minutes, an 820 ft. shuttle run referred to as the "sprint-drag-carry," hanging leg tucks over a period of two minutes, and 6.2 miles run.
The ACFT began development in 2013, and was based on a set of 113 essential "warrior tasks and drills" laid out in Army doctrine, as well as feedback from those who had completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The test is currently undergoing testing and refinement, and scheduled to replace the United States Army Physical Fitness Test as of October 2020.
First Lt. Armany Hidalgo, 311th ESC finance officer, volunteered to attend the training in order to get a better understanding of the ACFT and to practice the different events. He wanted to become more familiar with both how to complete and how to grade each event both efficiently and effectively.
“The most important part of this training is to understand what is authorized and not authorized for the ACFT because it is more complicated than the APFT, and allows Soldiers to potentially think of innovative ways to obtain a higher score,” said Hidalgo. “This training is important because it mitigates any loose interpretations of the regulations for the ACFT and gives us guidance from a subject matter expert.”
Studies leading up to the release of the new standard indicated an "increase of overweight recruits who can't pass entry-level physical fitness tests" as well as an increase in injuries resulting from the poor physical condition of new soldiers. Unlike its predecessor, the ACFT does not adjust standards based on age or gender. Instead, Soldiers are assigned to one of three tiers based on their military occupational specialty.
As part of their commitment, a U.S. Army Reserve Soldier must conform to basic standards. One of those standards is to pass an Army Physical Fitness Test and a minimum requirement that is expected to be maintain while in the Army.