Army Announces Rollout for New PT Test
The new Army Combat Fitness Test will be the service’s official test of record beginning Oct. 1, but soldiers’ scores will not be part of their records until 2022, senior leaders said.
“Pretty much the goal for this year is to take the test ... but it will not be used for any flagging or adverse action,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said during a call with reporters June 15. “If you don’t pass the test, you will not be separated from the military at all.”
While the ACFT will be the “only test of record” as of October, Grinston said, the rollout will give all soldiers time to take a practice test and improve before scores are recorded.
The ACFT replaces the Army Physical Fitness Test, which has been the Army’s fitness test for 40 years. It consisted of pushups, situps and a two-mile run.
The ACFT consists of six tasks, including a three repetition maximum deadlift, standing power throw, hand release pushups, leg tucks, a two-mile run, and the sprint, drag and carry. For now, soldiers who can’t do the leg tuck can opt for a two-minute plank as an alternative.
“The ACFT will strengthen our fitness culture. It’ll reduce injuries, it’ll increase Army readiness, and it’ll help us reduce unplanned attrition,” said Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, commanding general of the Army Center for Initial Military Training.
In late March, the Army suspended fitness tests as part of a larger effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prepare plans to reopen with social distancing and public health guidelines in mind.
The pandemic also created training challenges for soldiers as gyms and other businesses shut down and shipping delays held up equipment needed for the ACFT.
While a date for lifting the ban remains unknown, Grinston said, the ACFT events actually make it “easier to maintain” physical distance between soldiers.
“Right now, it’s all conditions based,” Grinston said. “We still haven’t seen when we can lift this [ban] up, but it’s ... based off of how we see the Army in the next month or two.”
Pass or fail, ACFT scores will not be documented in soldiers’ evaluation reports for now, but scores will be entered into the training management system to collect data to “make sure we’ve got the appropriate standards,” Grinston said.
Many active, reserve and National Guard soldiers are already training for and passing the new ACFT, Hibbard said. The Army expects to have about 200,000 soldiers trained to take on the task by the end of this fiscal year.
“What it takes is time,” Hibbard said. “We’re not trying to rapidly do this [test] without allowing enough time” to prepare.
As the Army got ready to transition to the ACFT, he said, there was a lot of uneasiness among soldiers about having enough time to train. The Army’s timeline eases “some of that concern and uneasiness in the force,” Hibbard said.
“We’d like to give everybody the opportunity to take the test,” Grinston said. “That way you can improve on it and then we can start counting that.”
Even with March 2022 as a “mark on the wall” for record keeping, leaders are prepared to be flexible.
“There’s no hard date,” Grinston said, adding that he’s unprepared to set hard dates due to “fluid” conditions. “We don’t know what the country is going to look like two weeks from now ... from a COVID perspective.”
Soldiers who didn’t pass their last Army fitness test will still have to complete it once more “just to have a valid score on record,” Grinston said. In those cases, they will take the Army Physical Fitness Test.
“As for everyone else, they should start training for the ACFT,” he said, adding, “this is going to make us stronger. It’s going to make us a healthier Army.”
For more on the ACFT, click here.