FORT MOORE, Ga. (WRBL) – For Soldiers attending the 2023 Warfighter Conference at Fort Moore, there was one important question: the future of the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).
On the morning of the first day of the conference, which runs from September 12 to 14, various forms of the question were presented to a question-and-answer session with the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. Randy A. George and Army Sgt. Maj Michael R. Weimer.
“We will continue the ACFT,” Weimer told a crowd of about 300 soldiers in Marshall Auditorium at McGinnis-Wickham Hall.
The statement was met with enthusiastic applause.
Weimer continued, “The ACFT is really helping us change the culture of fitness in the U.S. Army.”
Before its widespread use in the Army, the ACFT tested with cadet classes at the United States Military Academy (USMA) and within college and university ROTC battalions. It currently includes six events: deadlifts with a maximum of three repetitions, standing power throw, push-ups with hand release, sprint drag carry, planks and two-mile run.
The test has undergone several changes since 2018, when it was first administered at the USMA. These include moving from gender-neutral scoring to a system that takes both age and gender into account, removing the hamstring (replacing it with planks), and adding a two-and-a-half-mile walk as an alternative to the traditional two-mile walk, according to an Army statement. Run FAQ website for ACFT 3.0.
The changes were made based on data from 630,000 ACFT sample scores and a RAND Corporation assessment, as well as more robust feedback, the website says.
The ACFT replaces the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test), which was the Army’s primary fitness measure from 1980 to 2020. Each soldier who completed the APFT performed push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run.
According to one Article from Oct. 2020 About the ACFT on the Army website, the creation of a replacement for the “seemingly archaic APFT” was discussed as early as 2014 within the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
Military.com pointed this out in one Article from March 2022 that the change also roughly coincides with the opening of combat arms positions in infantry and tank units to women in 2015.
Speaking about the widespread implementation of the ACFT, George said: “It has really been a critical tool for us across the holistic health and fitness space.”
Returning to the conference objective, he continued, “This ties directly into warfare, period.”
According to a Timeline The Army’s ACFT website required active duty, reserve and active guard soldiers to have an ACFT score no later than April 2023. By April of next year, an ACFT score must be on file for all military personnel, including reserve soldiers.
“We hope to look at this more closely and make sure we have the right standards,” Weimer said, adding he expects the ACFT will continue to be adjusted over time.
For George, the move to the ACFT is another reflection of an evolving Army that is open to change.
“We should continually change our actual fitness and also our fitness culture,” George said. “It’s not ‘one and done.’ We have to give up this way of thinking.”