U.S. Army units across the world are preparing for changes to physical fitness testing, and Wyoming Army National Guard senior leaders discussed and practiced the new evaluation during an Oct. 13, 14 conference and training exercise in Cheyenne.
The current Army Physical Fitness Test consists of three events: pushups, situps, and a two-mile run. The new Army Combat Fitness Test, scheduled to replace the APFT in October 2020, contains six events, all geared towards analyzing a soldier’s ability to meet the physical challenges often met in combat situations.
The ACFT is currently undergoing a pilot program in 60 National Guard battalions in six states, according to Nevada National Guardsman Sgt. Maj. Michael Spaulding, the senior enlisted advisor to the deputy commanding general at the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, who spoke at the meeting regarding the upcoming modifications to fitness testing.
He said an exact timeline of how it will be introduced to current and incoming soldiers is still under discussion.
“We are going to pull that data and see what it is that gives us the best indicator of overall readiness,” Spaulding said.
He added, for half of these groups, soldiers are required to meet physical standards based on their overall unit requirements. The other half is tested to meet standards based on their individual military occupational specialty.
“I think for us, we go about our business by getting ready,” Maj. Gen. Luke, Wyoming National Guard adjutant general said, “keep these questions in the back of our minds, and remember that there are other states out there testing this.”
Meanwhile, the WyARNG is proactively preparing for the new test and has recently trained and hired a master fitness trainer, Staff Sgt. Kari J. Brafford, who emphasized the importance of embracing the changes during a Sunday morning showcase of the ACFT for the state’s senior leaders, at which, they performed the six-event test.
“Please remain positive and proactive during this transition,” she said. “Change is always scary, but it is doable. It is important because we want the soldier to go do what we need done in combat, and come back strong and healthy.”
Although it will take time to fully integrate the new evaluation plan, Brafford intends to provide units and their soldiers with resources to start preparing.
She said she will start pushing out the top three exercises that will help soldiers prepare for the six events so that units may start incorporating them into their unit training assemblies and soldiers can build them into their individual workouts.
Brafford encourages soldiers to figure out where their weaknesses may be with the ACFT and focus on strengthening them.
“Soldiers should start working on their weaknesses now so when we transition, we are a year or two ahead because we have been incorporating those workouts.”
Although exercise is an important role in preparing for the new evaluation, Brafford expressed that nutrition and rest are just as vital to being physically fit.
“It’s all about rest, nutrition and activity,” said Brafford. “What you feed your body is almost more important than the actual activity and then allowing your body rest.”
Spaulding said the scoring system for the new test, which requires soldiers to meet a minimum score requirement, will eliminate the advantage that high scores gave soldiers in the past. Soldiers will now be scored “pass or fail.”
“If we use that to assess promotion ability, two soldiers that met the minimum standards regardless of gender or age probably should both be equally considered,” he said.
Brafford encouraged servicemembers to reach out to her for individual physical fitness and nutrition guidance at any time. She can be reached at (307) 772-5162. She is also implementing “Fitness Fridays” on WyARNG social media accounts, Facebook and Twitter with advice and information that can be utilized to stay proactive.