By Stephanie Slater, TRADOC
FORT EUSTIS, Va. (Aug. 26, 2012) — The Army will retain the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, pending a study to determine the best method to measure baseline Soldier physical readiness.
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command found that implementing changes to how the Army assesses physical fitness would be premature.
“We anticipate that the baseline Soldier physical readiness study, linked to Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, may generate new information that affects how we develop and test physical fitness,” said TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Dailey.
WHAT WAS PROPOSED?
In 2011, TRADOC implemented a physical fitness training philosophy that Soldiers are better prepared if they train how they would fight. This prompted the Army Physical Fitness School to reevaluate a Solder’s physical capabilities.
A five-event Army Physical Readiness Test, or APRT, was developed and proposed to replace the current three-event APFT. The proposed test eliminated situps and included the following: 60-yard shuttle run, one-minute rower, standing long jump, one-minute pushup and 1.5-mile run.
More than 10,000 Soldiers worldwide participated in pilot testing of the APRT. After reviewing the data, TRADOC commissioned an independent panel to validate the proposed five-event APRT.
WHY RETAIN THE THREE-EVENT APFT?
In separate reports, the panel of fitness experts from the Department of Physical Education at U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, and California State University-Fullerton recommended against moving forward with the proposed five-event APRT and that TRADOC further study the issue.
The panel of subject matter experts agreed that the five-event Army Physical Readiness Test has “face validity” only, meaning that although it appears to measure what it claims to measure, further study would be required to confirm. Additionally, experts agreed that TRADOC should consider other events that may better predict baseline Soldier physical readiness. Soldier baseline physical readiness is the ability to meet the physical demands of combat and duty position, and accomplish the mission while conducting unified land operations.
TRADOC has determined that baseline Soldier physical readiness would be most effectively measured if linked to Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, known as WTBD — tasks and drills determined over the last decade of war to be critical while conducting unified land operations.
Given the independent study, and the logic of linking fitness to WTBD, TRADOC will initiate a comprehensive study of Soldier fitness requirements to determine the best method to measure baseline Soldier physical readiness. The objective of the study is to select and recommend test events that have a functional connection to WTBD, and accurately measure baseline fitness against valid performance standards. The study is expected to begin in October 2012 and will include fitness experts from across the Army.
Decisions to change long-standing and proven systems of physical fitness are not made lightly, or prematurely, said the TRADOC command sergeant major.
“Emerging factors and changing combat environments demand a thorough understanding before changes are implemented, and thus the decision to retain the current test,” Dailey said. “Whatever the new test looks like, it must accurately evaluate fitness levels for all Soldiers to decisively win in combat.”
TRADOC is preparing to reestablish the master fitness trainer program. Targeting noncommissioned officers, this program, discontinued in 2001, will eventually provide commanders at all levels certified fitness advisers. A pilot master fitness training course, or MFTC, begins Aug. 27, 2012, to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to restore this previously successful physical fitness asset to all units.
“Bringing back MFTC will standardize unit physical training and increase unit readiness across the Army,” Dailey said, referring to the doctrine in TC 3-22.20 Army Physical Readiness Training (Aug. 2010).
TC 3-22.20 focuses unit training on developing Soldier physical readiness required to perform WTBD. WTBD are the fundamental combat skills which all Soldiers, regardless of rank, age, gender or military occupational specialty, must perform in order to fight and win on the battlefield. To strengthen the emphasis on implementing physical readiness training doctrine Army wide, TRADOC will also transition TC 3-22.20 Physical Readiness Training to Field Manual 7-22 Physical Readiness Training in fall 2012.
“It’s time to break the culture of ‘training to the test’ and focus instead on preparing all Soldiers for the physical challenges of the current and future operating environment. Executing physical training in accordance with the doctrine [TC 3-22.20] will also reduce injuries and improve Soldier performance on the APFT,” Dailey said.
“TRADOC recognizes that leaders will continue to assess unit physical training needs based on the mission and the OE and adjust training as necessary, but the place to start is the TC.”