Under the Defense Authorization Act of 2024, the military has been directed to introduce stricter minimum requirements for some troops in combat missions. The NDAA also eliminates efforts to reinstate the previous Army Physical Fitness Test as a record test, which was added to the draft version of the NDAA over the summer.
The NDAA gives the military up to 18 months to implement changes to the military combat fitness test, which are expected to be signed by President Joe Biden. The bill sets annual policy for Congress and Pentagon spending priorities. The changes required by the NDAA affect infantry soldiers, combat engineers, armor and cavalry, artillery observers, artillery and engineer offices, and all special forces.
Finalizing Army Fitness Changes
Lt. Col. Randy Ready, a spokesman for the Army’s Center for Training and Doctrine Command, told Army Times by email Monday that development of the new standards will not begin until the bill becomes law.
While the NDAA does not provide specific details or requirements for the AFCT changes, the military must report to Congress within a year on the progress of the changes, which focus on scoring standards.
No later than 365 days after the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Army shall provide the Senate and House Armed Services Committees with a report describing the methods used in developing the standards, the bill states.
These changes are the result of the Army’s recent and final implementation of the carefully developed six-event CrossFit-style ACFT. The test was developed and modified over the years to better combine the requirements of a physical fitness test and physical combat.
Transitions from APFT to ACFT
The ACFT, which was (finally) introduced in October, replaced the long-running APFT of the 80s, which tested a soldier’s combat readiness through push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run.
The APFT was considered outdated and Army leadership felt that the test did not measure a soldier’s abilities in a combat environment. The ACFT was developed and initially introduced in 2018. The original purpose was to evaluate a soldier based on a gender-neutral and age-neutral score, as well as the physical demands of soldiers’ work.
After developing different standards for men and women, the military faced pressure from Congress when studies showed that less than half of women passed the test.
The House proposed a return to gender-neutral standards, and the Senate proposed a return to the APFT. Senior military leaders opposed 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 in the whole holistic health and fitness arena to change the culture of fitness, Sgt. Army Maj. Michael Weimer, the service’s top enlisted soldier, said at Fort Moore, Ga., in September. This is directly related to warfare. And so, I’m looking forward to doing a whole bunch of ACFTs.
Current ACFT standards (MOS not considered)
Max Deadlift, three reps (lbs): 140lb for male soldiers and 120lb for female soldiers for all age groups.
Standing power throw (meters): For 17-21 year old male soldiers, the requirement is 6 meters for male soldiers and 3.9 meters for female soldiers; For male soldiers aged 62 and older, the requirement is 4.9 meters and for female soldiers 3.4 meters.
Hand Release Pushup: requirement for all ages, both male and female soldiers is 10 repetitions.
Sprint/Drag/Carry (minutes, seconds): For 17-21 year old male soldiers, the requirement is 2:28 and 3:15 for female soldiers; For those aged 62 and older, the requirement for male soldiers is 3:16 and for female soldiers 4:48.
Plank (minutes, seconds): For 17-21 year old male and female soldiers, the requirement is 1:30; For men and women aged 62 and over, the requirement is 1:10.
Two-mile run (minutes, seconds): For 17-21 year old male soldiers, the requirement is 22:00 and 23:22 for female soldiers; For 62 years and older, the requirement for male soldiers is 23:36 and for female soldiers 25:00.
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