The chief of the U.S. Army Reserve said Tuesday that his force may not be ready to administer the new Army Combat Fitness Test as a test of record by the mandated October 2020 deadline.
The Army's senior leadership announced last July that every soldier in the active duty, National Guard and Reserve will have to pass new the six-event ACFT, which is scheduled to replace the three-event Army Physical Fitness Test in roughly 20 months.
The Army launched a large-scale, year-long pilot in October to work out the finer details, such as scoring, and possibly refine the new ACFT events. Once the pilot is complete this October, soldiers across the force have another 12 months before they must be able to pass the ACFT.
Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, commander of Army Reserve Command, said that, while he is excited about the new ACFT, he is concerned that his command may not have the necessary exercise equipment for units to accomplish the test by the October 2020 deadline.
"What I have promised the chief of staff of the United States Army is I will give him my best assessment of when I think [it will be], and I'll just say the word 'fair' ... to execute this, at scale, as a test of record," Luckey told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.
"I have seven sets [of equipment] right now across the United States as part of this pilot," he added, explaining that there are roughly "857 Army Reserve centers just across the continental United States and Alaska alone."
The Army has equipped each of the roughly 60 test battalions conducting the ACFT pilot with 16 lanes’ worth of equipment. Each testing lane requires one deadlift bar and more than 320 pounds of weights. There are also additional 90-pound weights for the sprint-drag-carry event, which requires soldiers to drag a 90-pound sled. Each lane also requires a weight sled, pull straps, two kettlebells and one medicine ball. Other equipment includes tape measures, marking cones and stopwatches.
Army officials say that many units already have some of the equipment required, such as pull-up bars.
"It would be inappropriate for me to tell you today sitting here when I am confident we will be able to fully execute this test fairly, at scale, because I don't even have all of the stuff yet, and it's a fair amount of stuff," Luckey said.
Administering the ACFT to large numbers of reservists in a single drill weekend will also be a challenge, he said.
"Given all of the activities that I am expecting my soldiers to accomplish on any battle assembly weekend -- anything that is going to take a significant amount of manpower and time -- across, again 20 time zones, in all kinds of climatic conditions, on any given Saturday, whether it's in Fargo, North Dakota, or Miami, Florida, or Saipan or Guam or American Samoa or Korea or Japan at scale -- it becomes a challenge in terms of time management," Luckey said.
He did say that he is enthused that the new test will force reservists to work together differently than they have in the past.
"I am not going to issue the equipment to a specific unit. I am going to issue it to a location, and they are going to have to learn how to share and manage together," Luckey said.
"This is a good thing. This breaks down some of what I would regard as functional, artificial barriers that have existed in the Army Reserve for a long time that we have been in the process of trying to essentially mitigate for the last couple of years," he said.
Luckey said he is excited about the new ACFT, even though the former Special Forces officer admits he was slightly overconfident at first.
"In a moment of hyperbole and bravado, I said, 'In 30 days, I'm going to max this thing,' " he said, joking about a recent conversation he had with soldiers in Texas. "This captain came over to me and said, 'Hey, sir, there are only three soldiers in the Army who have maxed this thing.' "
Luckey, who is 64, said he has not taken the full ACFT yet because he is still trying to rebuild after a "complete rotator cuff repair about five years ago" and from a severed bicep tendon.
"I am going to get there," he said. "As the oldest general in the Army, I view this as my responsibility to pass this."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.