The Army continues to study potential changes to the 30-year-old Army Physical Fitness test, and senior leaders could be briefed on recommended changes as soon as late summer or early fall, a senior Army official told Army Times.
Training and Doctrine Command, which is spearheading this effort, is looking at the requirements for a new PT test and whether the service is measuring the right things, said the official, who spoke on background.
The Army is looking to overhaul the APFT so that it's relevant to soldiers' jobs using gender-neutral standards.
Part of that effort is a study by the Army Center for Initial Military Training called the Baseline Soldier Physical Readiness Requirements Study that's focused on warrior tasks, battle drills and common soldier tasks. The aim of the study is to determine what it takes physically to perform the tasks troops do every day.
The Army also is conducting an experiment involving 500 soldiers of both genders to study how they perform combat tasks. That research is expected to influence the creation of a physical aptitude test, or a series of tests, that could drastically alter how soldiers are assigned jobs.
The current APFT was adopted in the 1980s as a simple snapshot of overall fitness, one that could be taken with a minimum of training and no equipment, so it could be administered in any environment.
Over the years, there have been several efforts to overhaul the test, notably an elaborate 2012 plan that was announced, only to die on the vine because it was not validated scientifically.
The 2012 revamp plan included a hard-core combat readiness test and a general five-event test that included max pushups in one minute, a 60-yard shuttle run, one-minute rower, long jump and 1.5-mile run.
That scrapped effort was meant to provide a better predictor of successful physical performance on the battlefield and like the previous test, to provide it without equipment or extensive training.
The idea for the test — which included a 400-meter run with weapon; an obstacle course with low hurdles, high crawls and over-under obstacles; a 40-yard casualty drag; a 40-yard run with ammo cans atop a balance beam; point, aim and move drills; a 100-yard ammo can shuttle sprint; and a 100-yard agility sprint — was thrown out due to the cost of materials.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.