1-148th Infantry Regiment conducts trial of new Army Combat Fitness Test
Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (06/26/19)
The frosted grass crunched under the weight of Soldiers warming up as their breath froze from the crisp air, ready for taking on the next era of fitness testing. The cold didn’t intimidate the Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment, who became the first Ohio National Guard members to take on the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).
The field at Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center, located in Trumbull and Portage counties, was a mass of activity. More than 270 Soldiers spent the early spring weekend learning what the new standard of Army fitness will look like.
The 148th was chosen by the Department of the Army to be one of seven National Guard battalions to conduct a field trial the new ACFT before its implementation date. Starting in October 2020, all Soldiers — active duty, Reserve and National Guard — will be required to take the new test.
“Ohio has really got a jump-start on the ACFT,” said Capt. Gabriel Pszonowsky, the ACFT project officer for the 1-148th. “We have the ability to communicate directly with TRADOC (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command), as they are developing and refining the new standards. We are working closely with the National Guard Bureau to identify what problems we are seeing as a Guard unit with our limited training time available.”
While many are familiar with the current Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) three-event format of pushups, situps and the 2-mile run, the ACFT adds a collection of new events, only maintaining the run.
“The biggest benefit to the ACFT is that it really refocuses the Soldier on what kind of fitness we need to train for. This test is very physically challenging. It makes us re-evaluate how we are training and what we think fitness looks like,” Pszonowsky said.
The six events in the proposed ACFT are the deadlift, standing power throw, hand release pushups, sprint/drag/carry, leg tuck and the 2-mile run.
“It was challenging. It gave me a real good gut-check,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Makruski, the command sergeant major for the 1-148th. “It’s a lot different than the traditional APFT. As an organization, we’re going to have to do some things different than we have in the past with the APFT.”
The new test is designed to assess Soldiers on the 10 components of physical fitness: muscular strength and endurance, power, speed, agility, aerobic endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time. The current APFT measures only two: muscular and aerobic endurance.
“It’s a very good measurement of general fitness,” Makruski said. “The ACFT is an overall better measurement of Soldiers’ physical readiness. It’s going to make us all better, better individually, and it’s going to make our units so much better as a team.”
The scoring of the test will change too. While the old test had categories for both age and gender, the new ACFT has neither. However, different military occupational specialties (MOS) will have different minimum standards. For example, Soldiers in roles that are more physically rigorous will require more repetitions and faster times than less physically-demanding jobs.
“The physical demands of land warfare are rigorous. This test is designed to better evaluate the readiness of our Soldiers to meet the challenges of combat,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general. “Tactical athletes, that’s what our service members have to be. We need to get focused on the war fight again.”
To learn more about the new Army Combat Fitness Test and how the Army is preparing Soldiers for it, go to https://www.army.mil/acft.