Embracing change with the Army Combat Fitness Test

U.S. Soldiers with the Joint Multinational Readiness Center conduct the Sprint-Drag-Carry exercise for the Army Combat Fitness Test Rehearsal at the Hohenfels Training Area in Germany, Oct. 18, 2019. The Army Combat Fitness Test Rehearsal is being conducted as a practice test phase to prepare U.S. Soldiers for the record Army Combat Fitness Test day. The U.S. Army Combat Fitness Test is the new required physical fitness test incorporated by the U.S. Army for U.S. Soldiers to complete. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Julian Padua)
October 21, 2019

The sound of grunting and feet pounding wet grass at the crack of dawn breaks through the heavy mist at the Hohenfels training area. Cheering and words of encouragement follows with clangs of the iron as it thuds on the turf. Command Sgt. Maj. Wendell Franklin led senior leaders across the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in the Army Combat Fitness Test on Friday, Oct. 18.

“We train to build confidence in ourselves and our equipment and today the JMRC senior leaders are better trained and equipped to lead their Soldiers through our Army’s newest physical fitness test,” said Franklin.
Franklin was the first one in line to conduct the ACFT and successfully passed all six events. The new events include the Repetition Strength Deadlift, Standing Power Throw, Arm Extension Push-Up, 250-Meter Sprint, Drag, Carry, Leg Tuck and the 2-mile Run. The events were all designed to meet the most predictive physical demands of soldiers in combat.

“The sprint, drag, carry is like boom, boom, boom- your heart rate gets up and the feeling afterwards is intense,” said Lt. Col. John O’Sullivan, JMRC Chief of Staff. “This sort of physical training makes soldiers physically and mentally tough.”

Lt. Col. Brian McCarthy, deputy commander of operations group, adds that the value of the training is not just that it is new and unfamiliar exercises, but there are some techniques you have to learn to do.

“For example, the standing power throw is actually more complicated and involves legs, hips as well as arms and shoulders. If you don’t have the right launch angle, if you release it to late- it’s the ground and too early- you become a target,” said McCarthy.

Soldiers stationed in Hohenfels face an additional challenge when it comes to embracing change. JMRC is the Army’s premier combat training area overseas and therefore is constantly rotating between multiple exercises and training rotations.

“There are two things that stand out at JMRC, first is that no two soldiers in the operations group have the same schedule. This implies that the individual has a certain amount of responsibility to prepare themselves for the transition,” said McCarthy, “Secondly, the population is skewed towards more senior officers and NCOs- so this a transition from a physical training regimen that many have been doing for a decade or two. Therefore, embracing and the leading the change early on is important.”

Currently, soldiers across the Army are taking the ACFT as a “not-for-record” assessment with a focus on transitioning from the current fitness test to the combat fitness test by October 2020.