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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.
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.”
One person was injured by Sunday's rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Task & Purpose was learned. The injury was described as mild and no one was medically evacuated from the embassy following the attack.
What it was like to liberate the Nazi death camp of Dachau, according to an Army veteran who was there
At age 23 in the spring of 1945, Guy Prestia was in the Army fighting his way across southern Germany when his unit walked into hell on earth — the Nazi death camp at Dachau.
"It was terrible. I never saw anything like those camps," said Prestia, 97, who still lives in his hometown of Ellwood City.
Against a blistering 56 mph wind, an F/A-18F Super Hornet laden with fuel roared off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford and into the brilliant January sky.
Chalk up another step forward for America's newest and most expensive warship.
The Ford has been at sea since Jan. 16, accompanied by Navy test pilots flying a variety of aircraft. They're taking off and landing on the ship's 5 acre flight deck, taking notes and gathering data that will prove valuable for generations of pilots to come.
The Navy calls it aircraft compatibility testing, and the process marks an important new chapter for a first-in-class ship that has seen its share of challenges.
"We're establishing the launch and recovery capabilities for the history of this class, which is pretty amazing," said Capt. J.J. "Yank" Cummings, the Ford's commanding officer. "The crew is extremely proud, and they recognize the historic context of this."
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.