Staff Sgt. Zachary Casey helps unload the plastic crates containing the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) equipment onto the USPFO warehouse floor. (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane)

The first Army unit has received the equipment it needs to face the new Army Combat Fitness Test.

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Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

It may take up to five years to finalize the standards for the Army Combat Fitness Test as the service struggles to address the performance gap between male and female soldiers on the service's first-ever gender-neutral fitness assessment.

The Army just completed in late September a year-long field test of the ACFT, involving about 60 battalions of soldiers. And as of Oct. 1, soldiers in Basic Combat Training, advanced Individual training and one station unit training began to take the ACFT as a graduation requirement.

So far, the data is showing "about a 100 to a 110-point difference between men and women, on average," Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, commander of the Center for Initial Military Training, told Military.com.

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A basic trainee just took the Army's new combat fitness test to school.

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Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy really doesn't want you to know how swole he is, as the former Army ranger refused to answer repeated questions from Task & Purpose about what he scored on the Army Combat Fitness Test.

"I'm not going to tell you," McCarthy said at the Military Reporters and Editors' annual conference in Arlington, Va. on Friday (Oct. 25). McCarthy said he passed the ACFT over a year ago in order to understand the experience.

"I'm a 46-year-old man that rides a desk every day and I got through it," said McCarthy, who described himself as a regular swimmer at the Pentagon pool. "It can be done, you gotta train for it and take care of your body. It's not just working out, it's eating right and sleeping. So I do well on one of those three: working out."

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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.

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Changes to the Army Combat Fitness Test were announced on Friday as the service prepares to move into the second phase of implementing the new standard test.

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