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New Army Combat Fitness Test starts Oct. 2020; ‘get in shape or hit the road,’ Army says

Pfc. Tony Garcia, an infantryman with 2nd platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, pumps out pushups during a ranger physical fitness test Dec. 2, 2010. (Staff Sgt. Joshua Ford/U.S. Army)
October 14, 2018

In October 2020, the Army will introduce a new Army Combat Fitness Test and it promises to be a challenge.

On Monday, the secretary of the Army said soldiers must “rise to the challenge to meet the requirements” of the new six-event ACFT, reported.

“If you can’t get in shape in 24 months, then maybe you should hit the road,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said while at the 2018 Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exhibition.

He added, “We don’t want to lose thousands of soldiers to [the ACFT]. This fitness test is hard. No one should be under any illusions about it. But we really don’t want to lose soldiers on the battlefield. We don’t want young men and women to get killed in action because they weren’t fit.”

The Army first announced the new standards in July. The new test will contain six events, compared to the current three-event test which has been used since 1980, according to the Army.

The events will consist of: strength deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release pushups, sprint/drag/carry, leg tuck, and a two-mile run.

Support for the new replacement test has been very positive, according to Army Secretary Mark Esper.

“I have been here as secretary of the Army almost a year now. I have done physical training with nearly every division in the Army — brigade combat teams, you name it — I actually think the soldiers are ahead of us on this. I see soldiers out there doing … the type of drills and exercises that will make them more fit on the battlefield. Everywhere I go, I ask them this question, ‘What do you think about the Army Combat Fitness Test?’ And hands down, you hear unanimous support for this move. They think it’s the right thing to do. They know it will be tough, but they know it will also help them win and survive in combat,” Esper said.

The new test will be both age-neutral and gender-neutral, and took six years of research-based development. Field testing was scheduled to begin this month, providing time to administer the test and fine tune it based on preliminary results and feedback.

Milley said that the new ACFT has approximately an “80 percent correlation to the physical activity that is expected of soldiers in the execution of ground combat. We want to make sure that our soldiers are … in top physical shape to withstand the rigors of ground combat.”

He added, “Combat is not for the faint of heart, it’s not for the weak-kneed, it’s not for those who are not psychologically resilient and tough and hardened to the brutality, to the viciousness of it. We’ve got to get this Army hard, and we’ve got to get it hard fast.”