FORT STEWART, Ga. — As the clock counts down on April 1, when the Army Combat Fitness Test was scheduled to become the service’s test of record, the Sergeant Major of the Army had little detail to offer at a pair of town hall events earlier this week.
The problem? The service has been silent about the test while it weighs the results of a Congress-mandated independent review that RAND did on the test and its potential impact on reservists and women’s careers. The RAND report has been delivered to Congress and the Army, according to Military.com, but the Army’s senior leaders are still reviewing the findings and recommendations.
It’s not clear whether the current version of the test will be the version that takes effect on April 1, nor is it clear how it will play into personnel considerations like flags, promotions or medical boards.
“I know everybody wants it. It’s coming,” Grinston said Wednesday evening when Army Times asked about the test’s timeline. “I promise we’ll get that out as soon as [possible].”
In a Tuesday morning virtual town hall, SMA said, “don’t worry about [April 1],” and that he was “hopeful that we’ll get an announcement in the next two weeks.”
“If you keep training for the ACFT version that you have now, I think you’re going to be perfectly fine,” he added. “There may be a minor tweak here or there.”
It’s unclear what tweaks Grinston may be referring to, but a leaked “pre-decisional” update to the test’s website last month indicated that the service might not factor test scores into personnel considerations until several months after April. Congress had previously barred the Army from using the current version of the test for personnel matters until the RAND review was complete.
Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Gabe Ramirez said the service will “ensure Soldiers are not unduly impacted during implementation,” in a statement to Army Times. He also cautioned that “no final decisions have been made regarding the Army Combat Fitness Test.”
An Army official also described the plan as “pre-decisional” but said “all signs” point towards the test — whatever its final form may be — not immediately affecting personnel issues.
It’s also not clear whether soldiers with medical profiles will have to participate in a minimum of three ACFT events in order to pass, as the service indicated it was considering in years past.
The leaked website also indicated the service may eliminate the leg tuck event in favor of the plank.
The Army has not had an official fitness test since September 2020, when it eliminated the old Army Physical Fitness Test and its familiar routine of pushups, sit-ups and a two-mile run. In effect, though, the service has been without a fitness test since the COVID-19 pandemic halted APFTs in April 2020.
Soldiers who enlisted that month are now eligible for promotion to sergeant after eclipsing 17 months time in service — forcing the service to allow junior troops to take the old APFT for promotion point consideration.
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.