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    519th MPs train to new Army fitness test standards

    ACFT test

    Photo By Chuck Cannon | Sgt. Gary Patterson drags a weighted sled, part of the sprint/drag/carry event of the...... read more read more



    Story by Chuck Cannon 

    Fort Polk Public Affairs Office

    FORT POLK, La. — A mobile training team from the Physical Fitness School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, was at Fort Polk Jan. 29-31 to train Soldiers with the 519th Military Police Battalion to administer the Army’s new Army Combat Fitness Test.
    Capt. Justinn McCaw, MTT team leader, said the 519th MP Bn is one of 62 battalions, Army-wide, providing data to help fine-tune the scoring criteria for the new test to be implemented in October 2020.
    “This test is a big culture change for the Army,” McCaw said. “It will help Soldiers prepare for how they do their every day jobs as well as for when they are in combat situations.”
    McCaw said the ACFT was developed to test the overall fitness of Soldiers and assess their proficiency level. The test was the result of six years of study and assesses 10 components of fitness: Muscular strength and endurance, power, speed, agility, aerobic endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time. The current APFT only measures two: Muscular and aerobic endurance.
    Master Sgt. Jason Johnson, team NCOIC, said training began Jan. 29 with the 519th MP Bn’s master fitness trainers (MFTs), or Level 3 trainers.
    “They (MFTs) understand programming and how to train units physically and with exercise technique,” Johnson said. “They are subject matter experts on fitness training. We concentrate on them so they can train their Soldiers on their METL (Mission Essential Task List), and common soldier tasks.”
    Johnson said MFTs will be important when units implement the new test.
    “Commanders need to utilize them (MFTs) because now Soldiers will have to train to the ACFT,” he said. “You don’t just wake up in the morning and expect to do well on this test. You’ve got to check your ego at the door, because this test will humble you. This test takes your body through its energy systems, moving in more than one plane of motion, testing strength, explosive power, local muscular endurance, speed, agility and quickness and aerobic power. It’s pretty intense. Larger and smaller muscle groups are working. That’s what the master fitness trainers know and understand.”
    Days two and three of the training focused on Level 2 Soldiers (officers and NCOs in charge of administering the tests) and Level 3 Soldiers (those tasked to grade the test).
    Johnson said there is another difference between the current APFT and the new ACFT: The ACFT is gender and age neutral.
    “The National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 said you will have an age- and gender-neutral test’” Johnson said. “The Army is the first to do it. From what we’re seeing, there is no resistance — it’s what the Soldiers want.”
    Johnson said the ACFT will be the catalyst to propel the Army into a new concept called holistic health and fitness.
    “It all comes down to training your different muscle groups to adapt to the new test,” he said. “Units will be outfitted with strength coaches, physical therapists, occupational therapists, cognitive specialists and registered dieticians. The 519th already has these experts in their organization.
    “That’s the holistic health and fitness concept. There are going to be big facilities called SPARCS (Soldier Performance Readiness Centers) across the Army. It’s all in the works.”
    Lt. Col. Sonja Whitehead, 519th MP Bn commander and Directorate of Emergency Services for Fort Polk, said the new test is more in line with what Soldiers face today.
    “This test will make our Soldiers more lethal and stronger both mentally and physically,” she said. “It more closely replicates what a Soldier might have to do on a battlefield and on a daily basis.”
    Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Mattson, the senior enlisted Soldier in the 519th MP Bn, said the ACFT will give leaders a better sense of what training their Soldiers might need.
    “The new PT test is going to assess and evaluate Soldiers and show where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and give leaders a better assessment of their Soldiers,” he said.
    “Being age- and gender-neutral, it’s going to be based on your physical performance and how your train for it.”
    The new ACFT consists of six events: Strength deadlift; standing power throw; hand-release pushups; sprint/drag/carry; leg tuck; and two-mile run.
    After completing the sprint/drag/carry, Sgt. Gary Patterson, an MP with the 519th MP Bn, said he underestimated what it would take to score well on the test.
    “Initially, I thought it was going to be easy since I’m a pretty in-shape kind of guy,” Patterson said.
    “But sprinting, then pulling the weight over distance, it’s a lot tougher than it looks. The ACFT works muscles that you’re not used to using.
    “We’ll have to change the way we train for PT tests, starting first thing in the morning with PT. It’s not going to be the same old PT anymore.”
    Sgt. Brianna Lablume agreed.
    “It’s definitely been an eye-opener for me,” she said. “There are more events and they are more difficult. It targets more muscle groups. I’m feeling it right now and I’m not even halfway through.”
    Field-testing on the ACFT will continue through October 2019 with the ACFT becoming the test of record beginning in October 2020.



    Date Taken: 02.01.2019
    Date Posted: 02.01.2019 10:26
    Story ID: 309156
    Location: FORT POLK, LA, US 

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