Army Health Continues to Evolve: Another Change Coming to ACFT

According to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, the Army is directed to implement higher minimum standards for some troops in combat jobs. The NDAA also eliminates efforts to reinstate the previous Army Physical Fitness Test as a test of record, which was added last summer to the draft version of the NDAA.

The NDAA gives the Army up to 18 months to enact changes to the Army Combat Fitness Test, which is expected to be signed by President Joe Biden. The bill sets annual Congressional policy and spending priorities for the Pentagon. The NDAA’s required changes will affect soldiers in the infantry, combat engineering, armor and cavalry, artillery forward observers, artillery and engineer offices, and all Special Forces.

Finalizing Army Fitness Changes

Lt. Col. Randy Ready, spokesman for the Center for Initial Military Training under the Army Training and Doctrine Command, told the Army Times in an email Monday that the new standards will not begin to develop until the bill becomes law.

Although the NDAA does not provide any specific details or requirements regarding changes to the AFCT, the Army must brief Congress in a year about progress on the changes, focusing on scoring standards.

Not later than 365 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the secretary of the Army shall provide a briefing to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and House of Representatives describing the methodology used to establish the standards, said Bill.

These changes come on the heels of the Army’s recent and final implementation of the carefully developed six-event CrossFit-style ACFT. The test has spent years in development and modification to better align the test’s physical fitness requirements with combat physical requirements.

The Move from the APFT to the ACFT

The ACFT, implemented (finally) in October, replaced the long-standing ’80s era APFT, which tested a soldier’s combat readiness through push-ups, sit-ups, and a two-mile run.

The APFT was thought to be outdated and Army leadership felt that the test did not measure a soldier’s ability in a combat environment. The ACFT was developed and first launched in 2018. The original goal was to assess the soldier based on gender-neutral and age-neutral scores, as well as the physical demands of the soldiers’ job.

After developing different standards for men and women, the Army faced pressure from Congress when studies showed that less than half of the women passed the test.

The House proposed a return to gender-neutral standards, and the Senate proposed a return to the APFT. Senior Army leaders have pushed for both, saying the new test has reduced injury rates and helped improve the culture of fitness.

ACFT has really been a critical tool for us throughout the holistic health and fitness arena to change the culture of fitness, Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Michael Weimer, the service’s top enlisted soldier said at Fort Moore, Ga., in September. It is directly in warfare. And, so, I hope to take a whole bunch of ACFTs.

Current ACFT standards (not considering MOS)

Max Deadlift, three repetitions (pounds): all age requirements for male soldiers are 140lb and 120lb for female soldiers.

Standing Power Throw (meters): for ages 17-21, the requirement for male soldiers is 6m for men and 3.9m for female soldiers; for age 62 and older, the requirement for male soldiers is 4.9m for female soldiers is 3.4m.

Hand Release Pushup: the requirement for all ages, both male and female soldiers is 10 reps.

Sprint/Drag/Carry (minutes, seconds): for ages 17-21, the requirement for male soldiers is 2:28 and 3:15 for female soldiers; for ages 62 and older, the requirement for male soldiers is 3:16 and 4:48 for female soldiers.

Plank (minutes, seconds): for ages 17-21, the requirement for male and female soldiers is 1:30; for age 62 and older, the requirement for male and female soldiers is 1:10.

Two-mile run (minutes, seconds): for ages 17-21, the requirement for male soldiers is 22:00 and 23:22 for female soldiers; for age 62 and older, the requirement for male soldiers is 23:36 and 25:00 for female soldiers.

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