The U.S. Army plans to launch a large-scale pilot within the next year to test a new physical fitness test designed to gauge if soldiers are ready for the rigors of combat.
On Monday, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper told an audience at the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium that the service plans to adopt a new physical fitness regime.
Senior Army officials offered an update on the effort to replace the Army Physical Fitness Test, or APFT, with the proposed Army Combat Readiness Test, or ACRT, during a panel discussion on soldier lethality.
"We have been working this for some time," said Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey. "This is a tough task; it's not that easy. There is a whole science that goes behind this. First, you got to answer the question, 'What do you want to test, what do you want to gauge?' "
The current APFT gauges general fitness, Dailey said.
"It does a pretty darn good job of what it's designed to do. It's designed to gauge a general level of fitness. ... It can be done anywhere, by anyone, at any location, with no equipment," he said.
The APFT does not gauge whether every soldier "can do the multitude of 150 [military occupational specialty] tasks we have across the Army," Dailey said.
"We have to get better at this; we have to get better at saying, 'Do our physical fitness requirements match the capabilities and needs of what we need a soldier to [do] on the battlefield,' " he said.
Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command, said the service's current APFT "by our own studies, has about maybe 30 percent, at best 40 percent, correlation to battlefield fitness."
The six-event ACRT is designed to better prepare troops for the rigors of combat than the three-event APFT, officials maintain.
"The Army Combat Readiness Test, we think, will have a much higher correlation to these fitness requirements," Townsend said. "In the next year, we will probably pilot that on a larger scale. It's been a fairly small-scale effort right now."
The current APFT will continue as the test of record, "while we do this large-scale ACRT pilot. And we will see where it goes from there," he said.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.