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For the first time since 1980, the U.S. Army will use a different method to test the physical readiness of its active duty, Reserve and National Guard forces. On Oct. 1, the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) became the testing method of record.
Gone is the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), which consisted of push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run. In its place is the ACFT, which consists of six events including the deadlift; standing power throw; hand release push-ups; sprint-drag-carry; leg tuck abdominals and the two-mile run.
To assist the Illinois Army National Guard in the transition, a team of ACFT instructors traveled from Fort Eustis, Virginia, to conduct a Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) and Officer in Charge (OIC) validation course over the course of four days at the Marseilles Training Center Sept. 22-25. Approximately 70 unit NCOs and officers from across the Illinois Army National Guard attended the course.
“We want to know they can execute the events themselves and can teach their units,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Thomas, NCO in charge of the training team from Fort Eustis. “Our focus is to make sure they know the standards and are training to the standards.”
“This validation will insure the Illinois Army National Guard is prepared to conduct the ACFT within Army standards,” said Thomas. “Soldiers become knowledgeable in the ACFT and then can conduct their own validation training within their units.”
Soldiers attending the course have started the process of validating their units for upcoming ACFTs.
“It’s important to take all the information you learned in the validation course back to your unit. I conducted our first unit wide ACFT grader validation training event during this past weekend’s inactive duty training. I followed the exact training format the mobile training team provided,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Palisoc, of Darien, Illinois, Readiness Non-Commissioned Officer, Joint Forces Medical Detachment based in Kankakee, Illinois, who attended the validation course.
Palisoc said for the grader validation training, the Soldiers learned how to validate equipment, the proper execution of each event, criteria for event termination, scoring standards, proper lane set up, and how to correctly fill out the ACFT score card.
“The Soldiers in my unit were thankful to have a 100 percent hands on training experience and having their questions and concerns finally addressed so that they can alter their physical fitness training appropriately,” he said.
During the validation course, each Soldier receives training on the ACFT, specifically the exercises and standards.
“As part of the validation course, the team goes through the scoring, lane set-up, NCOIC and OIC responsibilities, how to set up the field and what that entails,” Warrant Officer Shelby Nolte said. “We know what to expect with the ACFT and how to conduct the test to Army standards.”
According to Nolte, standards for the ACFT will be identical for men and women, with no adjustments made for age. Soldiers will be placed in one of three categories based on their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), or their military job, and the physical demands to complete the tasks of their MOS. The three categories are gold for moderate demands; grey for significant demands and black for heavy demands.
“The Army has used the APFT to measure physical readiness for a number of years,” said Thomas. “The ACFT training is more realistic and correlates to the Soldier’s job and will result in better overall physical fitness.”
“The ACFT will definitely show how Soldiers maintain and improve their overall physical fitness and nutrition,” Palisoc said. “The ACFT is challenging that will require Soldiers to take charge of their physical fitness. It’s a step in the right direction for the Army to move into today’s fitness era.”