The Army plans to launch a new, four-event fitness test for recruits this summer that will serve as "the physical equivalent of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery," allowing the service to place incoming soldiers on career paths that match their fitness levels.
The top officer and top enlisted man with the Center for Initial Military Training outlined the Occupational Physical Assessment Test in a video published Monday; the ASVAB reference comes from the video's YouTube description.
The Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, measures recruits' physical aptitude to perform to job standards at the end of training for the Army's most physically demanding occupations.
Some details regarding the test, according to the video and an accompanying blog post on the Army Training and Doctrine Command's News Center website:
1. Taking shape. Test developers worked with those in physically demanding military occupational specialties to isolate which tasks require what amounts of effort, CIMT commander Maj. Gen. Anthony Funkhouser said. That data, once crunched, "answered the question of how much strength, power and aerobic capacity a fully trained, MOS-qualified soldier needs ... for their first unit of assignment," Funkhouser said.
2. The final four. Developers were able to distill those physical demands into four events: the standing long jump, seated power throw, strength dead lift and aerobic interval run. Specific details, including weights and distances involved in the events, weren't immediately available, but the video points out the correlations between those tasks and likely Army duties: The jump measures lower body strength for "repetitive lift and carry," for instance, while the dead lift measures power needed during a casualty evacuation.
3. Working backward. Recruits won't be expected to step into their MOS as fully formed fighting machines. Like the ASVAB, the test is designed to provide a base fitness measure — a level that, after the amount of improvement expected during a recruit's initial days in uniform, would be expected to rise to meet the Army's needs.
"In order to be awarded the MOS, you will have to successfully complete the high physical demand tasks and the warrior tasks and battle drills," Funkhouser said. "The OPAT ... will help predict your ability to be trained to that level of fitness."
4. Launch date. Studies will continue until the middle of the year before a planned launch with new recruits this summer, CIMT Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg said in the video. An exact date hasn't been decided upon, according to the TRADOC blog post.
5. What's next? Then-Army Secretary John McHugh told Army Times in early 2015 that reviews of tests involving MOS-specific fitness standards for soldiers already in uniform would reach his office and that of then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno before the end of the year.
A CIMT spokesman said in December that he could not offer updates on potential changes to fitness testing, but some could be available "in the coming months."