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New fitness tests for the Army?

Posted by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 11:14 AM
  • 22 Replies



Army's new fitness tests add taste of battlefield


FORT JACKSON, S.C. – Sit-ups don't make a soldier, the Army has decided. So its 30-year-old fitness requirements are getting a battlefield-inspired makeover.

Soon every soldier will have to run on a balance beam with two 30-pound canisters of ammunition, drag a sled weighted with 180 pounds of sandbags and vault over obstacles while carrying a rifle. Those were just some of the tests the Army unveiled Tuesday as it moves toward making its physical training look more like combat.

Right now soldiers have to complete sit-ups, push-ups and a two-mile run twice a year within times that vary by age and gender. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the general in charge of the Army's initial military training, said he has been working to change that test for years.

Hertling said the current test "does not adequately measure components of strength, endurance, or mobility," or predict how well a soldier would do under fire.

A new annual "combat readiness" test includes running 400 meters — about a quarter of a mile — with a rifle, moving through an obstacle course in full combat gear, and crawling and vaulting over obstacles while aiming a rifle. Soldiers also will have to run on a balance beam while carrying 30-pound ammo boxes and do an agility sprint around a course field of cones.

Soldiers also will have to drag sleds weighted with sandbags to test their ability to pull a fallen comrade from the battlefield. The combat test might be given before deployments as well as annually, but that has not been decided.

The Army will keep elements of its old assessment in a "physical readiness" test, which adds such things as a 60-yard shuttle run and a standing long jump to one minute of push-ups and a 1.5-mile timed run. This might be given every six months, said Frank Palkoska, head of the Army's Fitness School at Fort Jackson.

Hertling said trials of the new program are starting this month at eight bases and the plan could be adopted Army-wide after reviews later this year.


Soldiers who ran the proposed "combat readiness" portion of the test Tuesday told reporters the exercises were tough, even for combat veterans.

Wearing a battle helmet and carrying a rifle, Staff Sgt. Timothy Shoenfelt teetered as he trod the balance beam, holding ammo tins in each hand. His pace slowed a bit as he dragged the green sled behind him, then held his M-4 steady as he strode sideways through the "point-move-aim" portion of the test.

"My quads are on fire!" the 31-year-old from Indiana, Pa., said afterward. "It really made me breathe hard and challenged a lot of muscle groups."

Wheeled vehicle mechanic and Sgt. 1st Class Cornelius Trammell, 33, of Eufaula, Ala., said it will be important for all soldiers to go through tests, even if their jobs are behind desks. He laughed when reporters commented on his sweaty face.

"You never know when you might need it, whether you are in the infantry or if you're a mechanic," said Trammell, who's been deployed three times.

The tests will be given to all soldiers and officers, including Army Reserves and National Guard, even those recalled soldiers who are now over 60, officials said. Specific gender and age standards are still being worked out, Palkoska said.

The shift follows other Army efforts to overhaul training, improve diets and help older soldiers keep fit. Hertling said the Army is trying to better prepare soldiers for the 40 to 70 pounds of weapons and body armor many of them need to carry in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Soldiers like to be challenged. This will definitely challenge them," Hertling said.

The Army also is hoping to reduce injuries — both in the field and from repetitive exercises.

"This is about training smarter, not just training more," Hertling said.

Staff Sgt. Danica Foster, 28, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who pumped through a shuttle run and did push-ups for the "physical readiness" section, said the new tests will require soldiers to work on their upper body strength. Female soldiers will have to work to get them done, she said.

"I honestly believe, though, that if I can do this, anybody can," she said with a laugh.

Besides Fort Jackson, the program will be tested at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Lewis, Wash.; and at the Army's military academy at West Point.

by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 11:14 AM
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Replies (1-10):
BV88
by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 11:15 AM
Glad I'm not in the army lol.
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Dani_Lynn
by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Is anyone else amused that we've been in A-gan and Iraq for the last 10 years and now they worry about real world situations?  Better late than never, I suppose.

If they are keeping the regular PT tests and adding this regimen to it, how will affect promotion points?  Also, if they want their soldiers to pass, they're obviously going to have to practice this.  Will PT schedules alternate between the two styles?

Aqua_Jen
by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 11:29 AM
I don't think all these changes will happen to be honest.
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Dani_Lynn
by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 11:36 AM


Quoting Aqua_Jen:

I don't think all these changes will happen to be honest.


I don't think they will either.  I mean, they'd have to install balance beams and those cost money...and we're supposed to cutting military spending. ;)

SierraLynn
by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 11:45 AM

 I think it will happen. I think its good in keeping soldiers agility and endurance up. The way that a PT test would take place when this happens is your CoC chooses which events to do. Everyday PT would be be the new PTRP which is a lot like what these new PT tests are about. But when a PT test come along, you might not be doing all the events, but ones selected by your command. So you never know which you have to do, therefore you have to be good in each event.

 

MissG9
by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 12:16 PM

In my opinion, upping the standards and expectations has NOTHING to with the wars we are fighting. Or, how long we have been fighting them.

Branches don't need anyone right now. So, the branches can afford to be selective, up their standards, and expect more from the men and women. (Which is why it was so baffling when the Army made bootcamp EASIER last year...)

When these wars began, all branches needed people so badly, they were willing to take anyone. And, they needed to retain them, as well...so making things easier to keep them around made sense. (Kind of. I mean, I'd only want my husband, or me if I was a troop, to be fighting with the best of the best. But, if you need people, you have to do what you have to do, I suppose.)

I don't know how the Army will implement this, but the Marines do both a PFT and a CFT.

Quoting Dani_Lynn:

Is anyone else amused that we've been in A-gan and Iraq for the last 10 years and now they worry about real world situations?  Better late than never, I suppose.

If they are keeping the regular PT tests and adding this regimen to it, how will affect promotion points?  Also, if they want their soldiers to pass, they're obviously going to have to practice this.  Will PT schedules alternate between the two styles?

 

 


And, there is no combination of words I could say...






But, I'll tell you one thing, it's always better when we're together.
yasbobari
by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 1:07 PM
Bump!
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yasbobari
by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 1:10 PM
I think this will depend by unit... some don't care...where my hubs in now.. they like to do a lot.. normal pt, pt in pool etc. So,I could see more changes going on.
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bramamber
by Amber on Mar. 2, 2011 at 3:30 PM
Me too! I would so fail.


Quoting BV88:

Glad I'm not in the army lol.

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fisterswife
by on Mar. 2, 2011 at 3:38 PM
It's going to happen. My husband unit is already Talking about getting ready for it and his last unit was too The Army has differant needs now.
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