Plan to reform army fitness test gets support from lawmakers in House

Lawmakers on Wednesday backed the reform plans Army Fitness Standards For troops in combat functions, plans reverse Adopted by Senators last week This could change the way troops test troops to ensure they are prepared for the rigors of the battlefield.

The proposal included in Armed Forces Committee in the House of Representatives Coding the annual Defense Authorization Act, the Secretary of the Army calls for “setting gender-neutral fitness standards for combative military occupational disciplines higher than those for non-combat MOS.”

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a similar language in the authorization bill last week. Both committees’ votes were approved with bipartisan support, despite the objections of some Democratic leaders.

“Obviously a 100-pound artillery shell, a 150-pound backpack or a 200-pound soldier that needs to be moved to a hilltop is different from using a keyboard,” said Modification Sponsor Mike Waltz, R-Fla. , during the committee’s discussion on Wednesday.

“Ultimately, it is about the standards that all Americans who want to serve this country must meet to win wars. Jobs are different, and therefore they must have different standards.”

The ruling represents the second reprimand in a week to Army commanders, who have spent the past several years adjusting their fitness test in response to earlier criticism that events were too stressful for service members in support roles.

Army officials released their revised Army combat fitness test In March, after an independent review ordered by Congress into the test’s deficiencies. All active duty and full-time reserve forces will undergo the new test count this fall, and part-time reserve and guard forces will undergo testing to set a record starting next April.

The current ACFT test is scaled back from its predecessor, which was specifically designed as an age- and gender-neutral test with different criteria based on whether a soldier’s job requires “heavy”, “significant” or “moderate” physical exertion.

With large numbers of women unable to meet those minimum requirements, the military modified events and created a new scoring system with different criteria for age and gender, changing its message to describe the ACFT as an elevated fitness test, not an assessment of readiness. .

But lawmakers said the result was a physical fitness test that was too extensive and did not adequately prepare soldiers for potential battlefield requirements.

The language included in the authorization bill would require the development of a new test for “anti-MOSs” and also for service officials to better determine what those jobs are, and who should adhere to higher physical fitness standards.

Report language accompanying the Senate authorization bill goes beyond the Army fitness test to include further scrutiny by all services in their requirements. The senators included language requiring the Department of Defense to provide a list of direct combat jobs and briefings to Congress on their material requirements.

This may force changes across services in the future, although proposals for now only apply to the controversial Army test.

This step will apparently support DoD directive from March Directing services to ensure that their fitness programs “meet the physical requirements of work, and are operationally relevant to occupational areas of physical effort.”

The Army currently has job-specific fitness standards for the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, but it is considered a minimum entry point for occupational fields.

Adam Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, led opposition to the move, arguing that Army officials “know more than our committee about the standards required to meet their requirements.”

“That basically takes away that flexibility in any way,” he said.

But for now, both houses appear to be moving toward forcing a change in testing.

Both houses will have to adopt their separate versions of the mandate bills before they can begin negotiations on a compromise procedure. This work is expected to extend through the fall.

Liu covers Congress, Veterans Affairs, and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on the policies of military personnel and veterans. His work has received numerous awards, including the 2009 Polk Award, the 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Award for Leadership in Journalism, and the VFW News Media Award.

Davis Winky is a senior reporter covering the military who specializes in accountability reporting, personnel issues, and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, and wrote a master’s thesis on how the Cold War-era Department of Defense affected Hollywood films in World War II.