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Army leaders aren't worried about the ACFT, despite women failing at an astronomical rate
After preliminary fitness test scores leaked in September, many have voiced concerns about how women would fare in the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
The scores — which accounted for 11 of the 63 battalions that the ACFT was tested on last year — showed an overall failure rate of 84% for women, and a 70% pass rate for men.
But Army leaders aren't concerned about this in the slightest.
At the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting this week, Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, the Center for Initial Military Training, said the answer to passing the ACFT is simply learning how to train for it.
"I am confident that the Army will adapt," Hibbard told reporters. "It's no different than if you look at, let's say a SAT. You go in the first time, some people do very well in all categories, some people don't do well in math and realize they've got to go study and practice the math piece to come back and do well — that's what the diagnostic part of this implementation here is, to figure out where the strengths and weaknesses are."
An active-duty major who has over 20 years of Army service under her belt, however, told Task & Purpose that the ACFT "is discriminatory, hurts readiness, and reduces combat effectiveness by reducing our ability to gain expertise related to nonphysical tasks … It is a massive institutional mistake and should not be implemented above the battalion level."
The major, who requested anonymity to avoid potential backlash, added that she doesn't believe the test is gender neutral because by focusing on strength, "It will disproportionately negatively impact women due to sheer size differences, muscle strength baselines, and require extensive training for women to be able to compete 'equally' with men for output results vs measuring fitness."
But Master Sgt. Shelley Horner, the NCO overseeing the ACFT Mobile Training Team, said at the panel on Tuesday that as soldiers have become more familiar with the test events, they're changing the way they train and improving their scores. When she first took the ACFT, she said, "there were a few events that I struggled with, the leg tuck being one of them."
In the leaked scores, the leg tuck was yielding a 72% fail rate for women. Now, Horner says that after shifting her training from an endurance-based approach to strength training, she can do 12 leg tucks.
Another concern that was raised in the Facebook town hall was postpartum training for women. Grinston said at the time that currently it's six months, but the Army has until next October to finalize the policy.
Horner, who has two children of her own, said that it took her six to nine months after each child to get back to the fitness level she was at before children. She said what makes the difference is "trying to continue to train during the pregnancy, within those limitations because every pregnancy and every situation is different.
"It is important to maintain that training throughout that pregnancy period, so that it is not an overwhelming, daunting task to try to get your readiness back after having children," she said.
Stephanie Worth, an active-duty Army captain and certified personal trainer, told Task & Purpose that she thinks the ACFT "is an amazing opportunity for the Army to move away from a one size fits all approach to fitness and create goal oriented training that becomes an individual responsibility."
On the issue of postpartum training, Worth added that "if implemented, individualized fitness will be the greatest thing ever to happen to a postpartum female soldier."
Soldiers everywhere will begin taking the ACFT this fiscal year, until next September, though it won't officially count until October 1, 2020.
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It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.
It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.
"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.
ROCKFORD — Delta Force sniper Sgt. First Class James P. McMahon's face was so badly battered and cut, "he looked like he was wearing a fright mask" as he stood atop a downed Black Hawk helicopter and pulled free the body of a fellow soldier from the wreckage.
That's the first description of McMahon in the book by journalist Mark Bowden called "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War." It is a detailed account of the horrific Battle of the Black Sea fought in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. It claimed the lives of 18 elite American soldiers.
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.
"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.
"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."
The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.
On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.