After nearly two decades of grinding low-intensity conflict, the U.S. military is shifting to focus on near-peer competition — and tailoring its physical fitness requirements accordingly.
The Army is currently conducting a two-year assessment and rollout plan scheduled for 2020, with 470,205 soldiers who are currently racing to prepare and train for a dramatically different six-event Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), developed in reaction to both the demands of modern conflict and to the declining health and fitness standards of incoming recruits and soldiers. After all, overweight and physically unfit soldiers degrade readiness, take up time and resources, and burden others.
To meet this lofty goal, the Army must undertake the most significant changes to physical fitness testing since the beginning of the professionalized force in 1973 — one that, unfortunately, it is ill-equipped to tackle for a simple reason: it has no up-to-date training apparatus to support the transition. While the new standard may be important for lethality, the Army must consider innovative ways to prepare both recruits and soldiers to successfully implement this new standard — or else risk a significant impact on readiness as the military enters into strategic competition with China and Russia.
Junior leaders have long complained that it has become increasingly difficult to prepare new infantry soldiers for deployment. Now the Army is making sure that soldiers are in better shape and more disciplined by the time they arrive at their first infantry units.
While explaining the specifics of the Army’s new Combat Fitness Test recently, Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost turned to a reporter and delivered a subtle challenge to members of the press: “Yes, you can take it if you want.”
Just because you become a non-commissioned officer doesn’t mean life becomes any easier. As you rise through the ranks, the responsibilities become heavier, and the physical training is just as brutal as ever.
With the beginning of summer, pools all over the U.S. have opened up for recreational swimming — but in the U.S. Navy, recruits are getting ready for the brutal Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training that will turn some of them into Navy SEALs.