Lawmakers order Army to develop separate fitness standards for combat professions

Senate lawmakers are unhappy with the newly revised Army combat fitness test, and want service leaders to institute stricter fitness standards for soldiers most likely to fight, congressional sources told The Military Times on Wednesday.

The move will also require all armed forces to consider separate fitness standards for non-combat working units, to ensure that more difficult fitness tests don’t force their jobs to potentially require different medical and cyber specialists. physical skills.

In the long run, these changes could mean a radical rethinking of military fitness requirements across the services.

But in the short term, the rule is a rebuke to Army officials, who have spent the past few years tweaking their physical fitness tests in response to previous criticism from Congress that the incidents are a nuisance to service members in support roles. too nervous.

Army officials launched the revised test in the spring after Congress ordered an independent review of the test’s flaws. All active duty and Guardsmen are scheduled to transition to the new test this fall, and reservists are scheduled to transition next spring.

The new test includes a new age- and gender-specific scale similar to the old Army Fitness Test; adds a 2.5-mile walk as an alternative cardio exercise for troops whose medical conditions prevent them from running; and eliminates the leg tuck as a core item .

The current ACFT is scaled back from its predecessor, which was specifically designed to be an age- and gender-neutral test, with different criteria depending on whether a soldier’s job required “heavy,” “significant,” or “moderate” physical effort.

But after a large number of women couldn’t meet the minimum requirements, the Army revised the event and created a new scoring system with different age and gender criteria, changing its message to describe the ACFT as an enhanced physical fitness test rather than a readiness assessment.

The revisions are intended to provide “an assessment of the physical domain of the Army’s overall health and fitness system,” not a predictor of battlefield success, officials said. Leaders also discussed whether the word “combat” should be removed from its name, although it was eventually retained.

The changes have only been in place for about two months, but members of the Senate Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday in closed-door deliberations on the annual National Defense Authorization Act requiring supplemental testing in addition to the ACFT’s baseline standards.

“Active duty members of military occupational specialties who are required to engage in close combat with the enemy must meet stringent physical fitness requirements to ensure the success of combat missions,” the language of the report in the authorization bill states.

The amendment requires Army officials to provide new “gender-neutral high fitness standards” for Army combat jobs by next summer, if the NDAA is passed this winter as usual.The new requirements will be “higher than non-combat [jobs]. “

The accompanying language of the report also requires the Department of Defense to come up with a separate list of close combat jobs and brief the SASC no later than February 1 on their physical requirements and their rationale for selecting those jobs.

The provision, proposed by Iowa Republican Sen. Jonny Ernst and Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, was approved by a bipartisan vote, according to congressional sources, with several Democratic members expressing support for the waiver New Army test.

Commission officials would not comment on ongoing deliberations on the enabling bill.

Whether the provision will become law is unclear. The full Senate is expected to vote on the massive defense authorization bill next month before starting negotiations with House lawmakers on a compromise version for consideration later this fall.

House Armed Services Committee leaders have not said whether they plan to include similar language in the authorization bill when they mark the first draft next week.

Leo is responsible for Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House in the military era. He has covered Washington, DC since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policy. His work has won numerous honors, including the 2009 Polk Award, the 2010 National Headline Award, the IAVA News Leadership Award, and the VFW News Media Award.

Megan Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief for The Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow @Meghann_MT on Twitter


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