Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Will the ACFT Actually Improve Combat Readiness?

Fitness is a top priority for our military's combat readiness, but is the new CrossFit-like Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) the best tool for this measurement? 

The ACFT is set to officially take the place of the 40-year-old Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) in October 2020. In theory, it seems like an excellent way to improve and maintain physical readiness, but it is already showing to have a number of issues regarding implementation and ensuring that soldiers are up to par. 

According to the Army Times, the first diagnostic ACFT was conducted by 11 battalions, totaling more than 3,200 soldiers (2,849 men and 357 women). The results were shocking, with 30% of men and 84% of women failing the test, especially considering that these were mostly combat-focused battalions (infantry, artillery, and engineering). 

The ACFT's minimum for the two-mile run for a second-tier MOS, which includes Human Resource specialists (aka desk jockeys), is now 19:00. While this may seem easy, the APFT's minimum was 19:36 for women over 22, 23:42 for women over 42, and 19:30 for men over 47. The APFT only had two events before the two-mile run (push-ups and sit-ups) while the ACFT includes five physically-demanding and cardio-intensive events before the run. 

To be fair, push-ups and sit-ups have never measured true physical readiness, but the ACFT has already done more harm than good with the number of injuries increasing as units fail to properly train before implementing diagnostic tests.

Active Duty units have plenty of time for physical training, but Reserve and National Guard units are now expected to set aside more time to complete the recommended physical training routine during drill weekends. The amount of time this training and the ACFT will require to complete will take away from other training activities that are necessary for combat readiness and prevent these soldiers from actually doing their jobs.  

The ACFT could ultimately damage to the Army's overall force quality over time by removing highly-capable, intelligent soldiers and leaders from the ranks and shrinking the already small pool of Americans that are eligible to serve. Army officials have said that they will consider adjusting the test if necessary, so only time will tell if this will improve or damage our Army's overall readiness and quality.

No comments: