Lawmakers have ordered the military to establish a separate fitness standard for combat disciplines

Senators are unhappy with the new Army combat fitness test review It wants service leaders to develop stronger fitness standards for soldiers who are more likely to watch combat, congressional sources told Military Times Wednesday.

The move would also require all armed forces to consider separate fitness standards for soldiers in non-combat jobs, to ensure that more difficult fitness testing would not force, for example, medical and electronic professionals whose jobs might require different jobs. physical skills.

In the long term, the changes could mean a radical rethink of military fitness requirements across services.

But in the short term, the ruling is a rebuke to Army officials who have spent the past several years adjusting their fitness test in response to earlier criticism from Congress that events were Too hard For service members in support roles.

Army officials released the revised test in the spring, after an independent review ordered by Congress into the test’s deficiencies. All active duty personnel and guardsmen are scheduled to move to the new test this fall, and reservists are due to move in next spring.

The new test includes new age- and gender-specific scoring schedules similar to the old Army’s physical fitness test; Added 2.5 miles as an alternate aerobic event for troops whose medical files prevent them from running; And the elimination of leg flexure as an essential event.

The current ACFT is somewhat reduced from its predecessor, which was specifically designed as an age- and gender-neutral test with different standards Depending on whether the soldier’s job requires ‘heavy’, ‘significant’ or ‘moderate’ physical exertion.

But after large numbers of women fell short of the minimum requirements, the military adjusted events and created a new scoring system with different criteria for age and gender, changing its message to describe the ACFT as an elevated fitness test, not an assessment of readiness. .

Officials said the revisions were designed to provide an “assessment of the physical domain of the Army’s overall health and fitness system” and not to predict success on the battlefield. The leaders also discussed whether the word “fight” should be deleted from its name, although it was retained at the end.

The changes have only been in place for two months, but members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday voted in closed deliberations on an annual defense authorization bill to create a supplemental test requirement in addition to the ACFT’s baseline criteria.

“Military personnel in military occupational disciplines that require close combat with the enemy must meet stringent physical fitness requirements to ensure the success of the operational mission,” the report’s language said in the authorization bill.

The amendment requires Army officials to provide “new, gender-neutral high fitness standards” for Army combat jobs by next summer, if the National Defense Act passes, as usual, this winter. The new requirements will be “higher than the non-combat requirements [jobs]. “

The accompanying report language also requires that the Department of Defense provide a separate list of close combat jobs, informing SASC of their physical requirements and the reasons for selecting these jobs by February 1.

The item — introduced by Senator Joni Earnest, Republican of Iowa, and Tom Cotton, Arkansas — was approved by a bipartisan voter vote with several Democrats speaking in support of abandoning the new Army test, according to congressional sources.

Committee officials have not commented on the ongoing deliberations on the authorization bill.

Whether the ruling will become law remains unclear. The full Senate is expected to vote on the broad defense authorization bill next month, then begin negotiations with House lawmakers on a compromise version for consideration later this fall.

Leaders of the House Armed Services Committee did not say whether they plan to include similar language in their authorization bill when it first drafts next week.

Liu covers Congress, Veterans Affairs, and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on the policies of military personnel and veterans. His work has received numerous awards, including the 2009 Polk Award, the 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Award for Leadership in Journalism, and the VFW News Media Award.

Megan Myers is the director of the Pentagon’s office at Military Times. It covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership, and other issues that affect service members. Follow us on Twitter @Meghann_MT