Maj. Scott Grupp, commander of the 319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, prepares to execute the standing power throw of the Army Combat Fitness Test at Vanguard Gym on Fort Jackson, South Carolina, April 23, 2022. The ACFT is the newest form of physical testing in the U.S. Army. (Photo by Spc. Jabari Clyburn, 319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

‘Readiness, it’s part of our title’

By Sgt. Alexandra Shea, 319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Days before the new Army Combat Fitness Test was due to go live, significant changes were made. Changes included the replacement of the leg-tuck event with the plank, inclusion of age and gender performance-norming scoring scale, and the addition of 2.5-mile walk as an alternate event.

Additionally, the timeline for Reserve component Soldiers’ ACFT scores to count ‘for record’ have been extended an additional year before they will be used to qualify for schools and promotions.

The changes came after the release of an independent, third-party study by the RAND Corporation to Army senior leaders.

The study observed that the leg-tuck was not an accurate predictor of core strength of all Soldiers, as it requires a minimum prerequisite upper body strength that made it impossible to measure core strength across all Soldier’s commensurately.

“I think the ACFT has come a long way,” said Sgt. Vincent Wilson, a mass communication specialist. “It’s a better reflection of a Soldier’s physical needs in combat.

“The 2-mile run event is more challenging now after completing five events. Especially for larger Soldiers like me.”

Wilson is a collegiate athlete who recently graduated from Greensboro College where he earned the South Carolina State Qualification and Academic All-Conference for his sport. His physical training includes heavy weight training which helped him earn the maximum score in the deadlift event.

Despite the changes, elements of the 81st Readiness Division, headquartered at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, took a diagnostic test with the newest changes April 22 to see where they stand with the scoring standards and plank event.

“The row event was rough but not as rough as the walking event,” said Staff Sgt. William Gillespie of the row alternate event. “But, I believe the new ACFT better represents a Soldiers physical readiness.”

Though Reserve component Soldiers have an additional year to train and improve their physical fitness standards, unit members drilling on the installation can frequently be found at the Perez Fitness Center on their battle assembly weekends.

“We took the test to assess our readiness and find areas to focus on,” said Maj. Scott Grupp, commander of the 319th MPAD, which belongs to the 81st Readiness Division. “Part of our job description is to be ready. I like the idea of the six events of the ACFT, it’s more well rounded now. My Soldiers are embracing the changes and rising to the challenge.”

“We will continue to implement physical fitness into our drill weekend schedules to ensure we remain ready regardless of ‘for record’ scoring timelines.”