The Army aims to formally implement the Army Combat Fitness Test — its biggest overhaul to fitness testing since 1980 — by April 2022, the service’s top NCO says.

There’s one potential hang-up, though.

Congress put the brakes on using the ACFT for promotion or career consideration and mandated an independent review of the test in the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Lawmakers were concerned that the new test may disadvantage women in their career paths.

The RAND Corporation is conducting the review, which will likely be complete before the new year. It’s the second independent review of the ACFT; the University of Iowa did one of an earlier version of the test.

Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston said the service believes that the third version of the test, which made the plank event a permanent scored alternative to the leg tuck, will pass the review.

“I’m extremely confident that on April 1, we will have a test for record, and I am hopeful it will be the ACFT,” he said in an interview with Army Times ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army conference in October.

It’s not clear yet, though, whether the test’s gender-neutral scoring will remain gender-neutral when it comes to personnel considerations.

Army senior leaders have floated the idea of implementing “performance categories” that sort men and women by performance into percentile categories relative to their gender.

Lt. Col. Gabe Ramirez, an Army spokesperson, told Army Times that “once the NDAA-directed independent study is complete and Army senior leaders have study–informed data to make decisions, the Army will finalize the personnel polices relative to the ACFT.”

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.

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