FORT MOORE, Ga. (WRBL) — For the servicemembers attending the 2023 Warfighter Conference at Fort Moore, there was one important question: the future of the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test).
On the morning of the first day of the conference, which lasts from Sept. 12 to 14, various forms of the question were submitted to a Q&A session with acting Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Randy A. George and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael R. Weimer.
“We’re going to continue doing the ACFT,” said Weimer to a crowd of roughly 300 soldiers in McGinnis-Wickham Hall’s Marshall Auditorium.
The statement was met with enthusiastic applause.
Weimer continued, “The ACFT is really helping us change the culture of fitness in the United States Army.”
Before widespread use in the Army, the ACFT was tested with cadet classes at the United States Military Academy (USMA) and within college- and university ROTC battalions. It currently includes six events: a three-repetition maximum deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release push-up, sprint-drag-carry, plank and two-mile run.
The test has seen several modifications since 2018, when it was first administered at USMA. These include transitioning from gender-neutral scoring to a system which accounts for both age and gender, removal of the leg tuck (replaced by planks) and the addition of a two-and-a-half-mile walk as an alternate to the traditional two-mile run, according to an Army FAQ webpage about the ACFT 3.0.
Changes were made based on data from 630,000 sample ACFT scores and an assessment by the RAND Corporation, as well as solider feedback, the webpage states.
The ACFT takes the place of the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test), which was the primary measure of fitness used by the Army from 1980 to 2020. Any soldier taking the APFT would execute push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run.
According to an Oct. 2020 article about the ACFT on the Army website, creating a replacement for the “seemingly archaic APFT” was discussed within Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) as far back as 2014.
Military.com pointed out in a March 2022 article that the change also roughly coincides with when combat arms positions within in Infantry and Armor units opened to women in 2015.
Talking about the widespread implementation of the ACFT, George said, “That has really been a critical tool for us in the entire holistic health and fitness arena.”
He circled back to the conference objective and continued, “This directly fits into warfighting, period.”
According to a timeline on the Army’s ACFT webpage, active-duty, reserve and active guard reserve soldiers were required to have an ACFT on-record no later than April 2023. By April of next year, an ACFT score will be required to be on-record for all Army servicemembers, including reserve component soldiers.
“What we’re hoping to do is actually study this even more and make sure, you know, we got the standards right,” said Weimer, adding he expects the ACFT will continue to be adjusted over time.
For George, the shift to the ACFT is another reflection of an evolving Army open to change.
“We should be continually transforming in our actual fitness and our culture of fitness too,” said George. “It’s not ‘one and done.’ We’ve got to lose that mindset.”