Defence

A controversial fitness test in the army could become official this year, says a plan that traced

The controversial new army suitability test could replace the decades-old standard by which troops are measured later this year after years of propaganda by the army leadership against a skeptical Congress concerned. practicality of the test and one-sided gender disparity in performance.

On Sunday, the test schedule was published on the army’s official website and was quickly removed. A brief published plan states that the Army Competitiveness Test, or ACFT, will be conducted and used to evaluate soldiers beginning in April. The test was introduced in 2019, but the results were used only to help army leaders figure out how to evaluate the test and what developments will persist, with data not affecting military careers.

All active soldiers and regular army National Guard and the reserve troops had to be there before October 1 before their performance in the new test would affect the promotion or could lead to administrative action, according to screenshots of the now-deleted web page. Failure to certify is grounds for dismissal from the army. All National Guard and Reserve soldiers must have an ACFT rating no later than April 1, 2023.

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It is expected that all servicemen and soldiers of the Guards and Reserves on a full-time basis will pass two tests for the financial year. Troops that are part-time will pass one test.

Army officials insist the schedule is not yet official and was published prematurely. The last word is with Army Secretary Christine Wormouth, who has expressed serious concerns about the ordeal.

“The contractor accidentally published a decision in advance on the actions of ACFT, which was not approved by the Minister of the Army,” – told Military.com Army spokesman Colonel Katie Wilkinson. “We apologize for the confusion. Once the Secretary of the Army makes the final decision on the Army’s fitness, the Army’s priority is to give clear notice of the test and deadlines.”

Military.com received early data in May on a test that showed that nearly half of women in the military failed to pass ACFT, a problematic finding given the force’s recent commitments to promote a more inclusive environment. The test requires deadlifts from 140 to 340 pounds, which smaller soldiers, especially women, strive to achieve high scores in testing.

Women have become better at performing tests when the army conducted a further test and replaced the execution of the bar instead of pulling up the legs – an event in which soldiers must pull up on the barbell and then touch their knees to their elbows – which requires great upper body strength. The first data reported by Military.com was collected before the bar was presented as an alternative event.

But for a soldier’s career it may not be enough to simply take a test. High scores can lead to troops on elite courses such as school rangers, and can achieve faster promotion and more job opportunities. Internal figures for 2020 showed that only 66 women scored 500 points and higher compared to 31,978 men. The maximum score is 600 points. Running two miles is by far the most often unsuccessful event.

When these data were given at a hearing on Wormouth’s confirmation, she said she was skeptical of the need for a CrossFit-style test. Although the army needs a certain basic level of physical training, she said she was not sure whether such severe tests were needed for forces where such a minority served in ground combat roles and given the army’s need to be a competitive employer in such areas. growing, such as cyberwar.

“I have concerns about the impact of the test on our ability to continue to retain women,” Wormouth, the first woman to play the role, told lawmakers at an approval hearing last year.

Congress has postponed the implementation of the ACFT National Defense Permit Act of 2021, which sets funding and policy priorities for the Pentagon. Lawmakers have ordered an independent study of the impact of the test on the content and ability of soldiers to prepare for the test in a variety of settings. This study, conducted by Rand Corporation, has since been completed and the results are being reviewed by army leaders. These findings are expected to be published in early March.

– You can contact Steve Bainan at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: Can the new army fitness test survive the critics and become official in April?

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