Five of the important changes being made in the Military in 2012 include an update to the physical training (PT) test for the first time since it’s inception, three new combat uniforms are to be made by end of year, a possible decrease in education benefits for troops, a reduction in brigade combat teams (BCT), and a 1.6% increase in basic pay via Executive Order 13594.
1. Possible new APFT changes to become official in late 2012
A possible new physical training test was given to some 10,000 soldiers in 2011. This will be the first time a change has been made to the APFT since it’s creation in 1980. When the new test becomes official in late 2012, some of the possible changes will include: a 60-yard shuttle run, a two-minute rower, a standing long jump, dead-hang pull-ups, and a two-mile run. Other Alternate aerobic events for the APFT: 800-yard swim test, 6.2-mile stationary bicycle ergometer test, 6.2-mile bicycle test on a conventional one-speed bicycle, and a 205-mile walk test. The alternate aerobic events are only offered if you have a permanent, or long-term, medical profile and cannot perform the full APFT. All of the events are pass/fail, not scored, and you must score better than a certain time to pass.
2. New Combat Uniforms to be Added in late 2012
Officials will soon unveil their top five selections for new combat uniforms; which include three from industry and two from the government itself. Field tests will then follow, and three will be selected from the five options. The three new designs will be a woodland variant, a desert variant, and one that will encompass everything else. Designs and colors have yet to be selected, but the Army will spend upwards of $10 million on the new uniforms. Barring any unforeseen complications, production of the new combat uniforms will begin later this year.
3. Changes in Educational Benefits
Educational benefits may drastically change for troops in the near future. Officials are looking to make some cuts in the TA program by cutting the offered benefits and adding some new restrictions due to the fact that TA benefits have risen to more than half a billion dollars since 2001. The Pentagons new rules are causing some schools to resist signing the new agreement because they feel there are too many strings attached; however, the Pentagon has delayed the new rules for 90 days, from it’s Jan 1 starting date, to allow more time for discussion on the matter. Troops wanting to go to school should do so now and collect up to $4,500 a year in benefits before any changes go into effect.
4. Brigade Combat Team Changes
As the Army shrinks from 570,000 to 520,000 or less there will be a major change to reorganize and make stronger brigades. There will be an addition of a maneuver battalion and a redistribution of the headquarter units while engineers and fire teams, also known as combat enablers, will get a boost. The total loss of BCTs is expected to be 10 to 15 fewer BCTs. Currently, the Army has 73 BCTs: 45 which are active and 28 in the reserve. This is all part of the Total Army Analysis due this month to service leaders.
5. A Raise in Pay for 2012
President Barack Obama recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 that provides the funding required for the calendar year 2012. This includes a 1.6% pay raise that he approved on December 19th via Executive Order 13594. The pay raise is equal to the full increase in the Employment Cost Index, as prescribed by law, and it will keep military pay in line with raises in the private sector. Also under the budget, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) will increase 4.2%, and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) will increase 3.4%. This request reflects the department’s highest priority, which is to provide support for DoD people, whose service ensures the security of the United States and its interests.