Army Chief Tells Soldiers To Get Fit Or Get Out

news

WASHINGTON — While the Army’s new gender- and age-neutral combat fitness test is hard, soldiers should have time to train for it before it becomes mandatory on Oct. 1, 2020, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Monday.


“If you can’t get in shape in 24 months, then maybe you should hit the road,” Milley said at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. “Maybe you should consider an alternative to this.”

During the 50-minute test, soldiers must complete a strength deadlift; throw a medicine ball over their head; do a set of pushups, during which they lift their hands off the ground after each pushup; complete a 250-meter “sprint, drag, carry” event; and finally run 2 miles. The Army is refining the standards for each event, which are based on whether a soldier’s military occupational specialty involves a “moderate,” “significant,” or “heavy” amount of physical exertion.

Related: Could This Reporter Survive The Army Combat Fitness Test?»

Task & Purpose asked Milley on Monday if the Army could end up losing older soldiers, who are unable to perform as well as younger ones on the combat fitness test.

“We don’t want to lose thousands of soldiers,” Milley said. “This fitness test is hard and no one should be under any illusions about it. But where we really don’t want to lose soldiers is on the battlefield. We don’t want young men and women killed in action because they weren’t fit.”

Many of the first soldiers sent to the Korean peninsula in 1950 were not physically prepared to fight a war in the hilly terrain, leading "countless numbers” of them to be killed as a result, Milley said.

The new combat fitness test more closely mirrors the physical activities that soldiers will have to perform in combat than the Army’s current PT test, he said.

“This has everything to do with effectiveness in combat — that’s why it’s gender-neutral; that’s why it’s age-neutral,” Milley said. “Combat is unforgiving. It doesn’t matter how old you are. The enemy doesn’t care. Before they shoot you, they don’t say: ‘Hey are you 25 or are you 45?’ They don’t do that. They just shoot you. And dead is dead. So we want to make sure that our soldiers are in top physical condition to withstand the rigors of ground combat.

“And there’s nothing like it. Ground combat is unbelievable. Go look at those kids, who are walking up and down the hills of Afghanistan. My dad at the beaches of Iwo Jima went 19 consecutive days without eating in some of the most brutal combat in military history. Combat is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the weak-kneed.”

While the combat fitness test represents “a bit of a culture shock” for the Army that is sure to draw plenty of complaints, Milley said he expects the vast majority of soldiers to rise to the challenge.

“We’ve got to get this Army hard,” Milley said. “We’ve got to get it hard fast.”

WATCH NEXT:

Pearl Harbor survivor Lauren Bruner attends the dual interment of fellow USS Arizona survivors John D. Anderson, boatswain's mate 2nd class, and Clarendon R. Hetrick, seaman 1st class, at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as part of the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 2nd Class Somers Steelman)

Just before 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning 78 years ago, Lauren Bruner was preparing for church services and a date that would follow with a girl he'd met outside his Navy base.

The 21-year-old sailor was stationed as a fire controlman aboard the U.S. battleship USS Arizona, overseeing the vessel's .50-caliber guns.

Then alarms rang out. A Japanese plane had bombed the ship in a surprise attack.

It took only nine minutes for the Arizona to sink after the first bomb hit. Bruner was struck by gunfire while trying to flee the inferno that consumed the ship, the second-to-last man to escape the explosion that killed 1,177, including his best friend; 335 survived.

More than 70% of Bruner's body was burned. He was hospitalized for weeks.

Now, nearly eight decades after that fateful day, Bruner's ashes will be delivered to the sea that cradled his fallen comrades, stored in an urn inside the battleship's wreckage.

Read More Show Less
Joshua Kaleb Watson (Facebook via Business Insider)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Joshua Kaleb Watson has been identified as one of the victims of a shooting at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, CBS News reported.

The 23-year-old Alabama native and Naval Academy graduate was named to the Academy's prestigious Commandant's and Dean's lists, and also competed on the rifle team, Alabama's WTVY reported.

Read More Show Less
Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani (Courtesy photo)

PENSACOLA, Fla. (Reuters) - The Saudi airman accused of killing three people at a U.S. Navy base in Florida appeared to have posted criticism of U.S. wars and quoted slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on social media hours before the shooting spree, according to a group that monitors online extremism.

Federal investigators have not disclosed any motive behind the attack, which unfolded at dawn on Friday when the Saudi national is said to have began firing a handgun inside a classroom at the Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Read More Show Less
Saudi air force Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani (NBC News)

The Saudi military officer who shot and killed 3 people at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday reportedly hosted a "dinner party" the week before the attack "to watch videos of mass shootings," the Associated Press reports, citing an unnamed U.S. official.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) hold folded flags before military funeral honors. (U.S. Army/Elizabeth Fraser)

The Minnesota National Guard has released the names of the three soldiers killed in Thursday's helicopter crash.

Read More Show Less