FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - Army officials call it a game changer with more strenuous standards, regardless of age or gender.
For the first time in decades, the military branch is implementing a new fitness test to better prepare soldiers for combat. Fort Benning gave News Leader 9 a first look.
“If you do well at this, or if you even just pass, you should be well enough for combat, that’s for sure. APFT really didn’t do that," said SFC Brandon Ryan from the 1-19 Infantry Regiment.
The three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, mentioned by him, has been in place since 1980. Now the plans are to replace it with the new six-event Army Combat Fitness Test.
Select units like the 1st Battalion 19th Infantry Regiment on Fort Benning are trying out the more physically taxing test. By October of 2020, it will be required for all soldiers to take. Instead of being graded on a sliding scale based on age and gender, the ACFT has the same standards for everyone, just as combat requires.
“If you’re an old guy like me or a brand new private just out of training, you’ve got to meet the same standards based upon your skill set, your job in the army," said Spencer Wallace, 1-19 Battalion Commander LTC.
Fort Benning invited News Leader 9 to take the test too. Meteorologist Dylan Federico participated. The first of six events is the maximum deadlifts.
“You’re going to lift 140 to 340 pounds and you do it three times," said Ryan. He explained what’s next too. “You take a 10-pound medicine ball, you throw it over your head behind you as far as you can.”
The third event is hand-release pushups, different than the standard army ones. They push themselves up from the ground, over and over again.
“This has a different training path for success than the old army PFT had," said Wallace, calling it “functional” when asked if it’s similar to Cross-Fit.
Ryan explained, “then you move into the sprint drag carry.”
That means dashing 25 meters a total of five times up and down a lane with sprints, dragging a 90-pound sled, laterals, and carrying kettle bells, all in under two minutes.
After rest and recovery between each station, the fifth event of the new combat fitness test has troops hanging and lifting their legs up and down to touch their knees to their elbows.
“This event right here, the leg tuck, will show commanders and soldiers where they’re weak at," Ryan said.
Wallace added, “have to have a strong core and have to be able to endure over time.”
The Fort Benning soldiers taking this new test for the first time, finish with a two-mile run. Federico finished and passed. The same goes for these army men and women, who call the combat fitness test true proof of their physical fitness and combat readiness.
“We’re the only one on Sand Hill doing it right now. I’m glad to be a part of it. It’s good to be at the forefront of this," Ryan said.