Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Two Fort Leavenworth facilities were renovated in October to accommodate the new Army Combat Fitness Test, which will replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test in October 2020.
One of the facilities was the south hangar of Sherman Army Airfield, which is now an Army University managed ACFT training and testing facility.
School for Command Preparation students tested the newly renovated facility in a diagnostic physical training session of the ACFT Dec. 7.
“We appreciate that Fort Leavenworth has pulled together to create this facility,” said Col. Tom Duncan, SCP director. “It really helps us to teach in inclement weather conditions. As we approached winter, I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to execute the diagnostic if the weather would have turned on us because of temperature or snow and ice.
“The chief of staff of the Army’s current intent is to change our fitness culture in the Army, and that is key because we (the SCP) are working to change fitness culture,” he said. “With the School for Command Preparation, doing a diagnostic ACFT with all future brigade and battalion commanders and command sergeants major, we’re teaching the folks who are going to take this out into the Army and incorporate it into their units across the Army, whether it is active duty, National Guard or Reserve.”
Lt. Col. Clay Meals, officer-in-charge of the diagnostic ACFT, said the space accommodates the requirements of the new test well.
“It is a great visualization to how we can accomplish things in a dedicated structure and facility,” Meals said.
“We may want to see how to get more permanent with respect to, instead of using all the tape markers, are there more permanent options … so we don’t have to keep moving things, and maybe we can decrease cost overall in the future,” he said.
“There are some obvious improvements needed … . We’ve already made some adjustments to painting the lines on the actual turf,” Meals said.
SCP students said they were impressed with the facility as well.
“All of these colonels and sergeants major are going to get to see what the standard looks like for actually executing the test for soldiers going through it for record,” said Col. Jim Pangelinan, SCP student. “In this facility, we get the opportunity to observe the graders, the process, the flow of the events, so it is a really positive thing. Being out of the elements is nice, too.”
The renovation of the facility included the installation of artificial turf panels and the necessary equipment for completing the ACFT. Each set of equipment includes 16 lanes, which will accommodate up to 64 soldiers at once.
The ACFT is made up of six events — strength deadlifts, standing power throws, hand-release push-ups, a sprint-drag-carry, leg tucks and a two-mile run. The test must be completed within 50 minutes, and passing or failing grades are based on the soldier’s job and unit requirements.
According to army.mil, the new events represent movements and tasks required of soldiers both on a day-to-day basis and in combat. The strength deadlift represents movements required to lift heavy loads from the ground, jump, bound and tolerate landing. An example would be extracting a casualty on a litter.
The standing power throw represents tasks that require quick and explosive movements to maneuver equipment and personnel. Examples include throwing equipment onto or over an obstacle, lifting soldiers up or assisting someone climbing up a wall, jumping across and over obstacles, or employing progressive levels of force in man-to-man contact.
The hand-release push-ups represent repetitive and sustained pushing used in various combat tasks. Examples include moving obstacles, pushing an opponent away during man-to-man contact, pushing a disabled vehicle, getting to and from the ground during evasion and maneuver, or reaching out from the prone position when shooting, taking cover or low crawling.
The sprint-drag-carry tests strength, endurance and anaerobic capacity, which are all needed to accomplish high-intensity combat tasks that can last seconds to minutes. Examples include reacting quickly to direct and indirect fire, building a hasty fighting position, extracting a casualty from a vehicle and carrying him or her to safety, or carrying ammunition to a fighting position or vehicle.
The leg tuck tests the strength of the grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles, which help soldiers in load carriage and avoiding back injuries. Examples include surmounting obstacles and wall or rope climbing, descending or traversing.
The two-mile run tests aerobic endurance, a requirement for conducting continuous operations and ground movements on foot. Examples include dismounted movements, a ruck march or infiltration.
Pangelinan said he likes the new test.
“It is much tougher and much more wholistic than the previous PT test, so I really like it,” Pangelinan said. “Personally, there is a lot I have to work on over the next year, but I’m looking forward to it.
“I do like that it emphasizes a lot of the strength movements as well as the high-intensity movements,” he said. “It is going to cause the force to do different things both in the gym and out in the field, which I think is overall going to be pretty good for the Army.”