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    Soldiers get their arms around the ACFT with Fitness School trainers

    Soldiers get their arms around the ACFT with Fitness School trainers

    Photo By Spc. Amy Carle | Sgt. Jezreel Paul Francisco, from the 1040th Quartermaster Company in Merced,...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Amy Carle 

    69th Public Affairs Detachment

    DUBLIN, Calif. -- Ever since its announcement in 2018, questions abound about the new Army Combat Fitness Test. How are the exercises different? How will it be rolled out? What do units need to do in order to be ready? To help answer those questions, a mobile training team from the Army Physical Fitness School in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, traveled to Parks Reserve Forces Training Area in Dublin, California, to work with representatives from across the Army. The team was there to train instructors in the administration and grading of the new ACFT.

    Members from the APFS ran three separate ACFTs at Camp Parks between April 29 through May 9, attended by Soldiers from the Army, Army Reserves and Army National Guard. The attendees took classes in the administration, grading and operations of the new test, and learned the proper technique for each of the exercises in the events.

    The test consists of six different events, only one of which, the two-mile run, is currently measured in the Army Physical Fitness Test. Each of the exercises is meant to measure the kinds of activities a Soldier might encounter in a combat environment.

    Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Jackson, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the mobile training team, said that while many Soldiers are initially concerned about the test, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

    “The ACFT is a more combat efficiency test that assesses all your abilities a lot better than the APFT,” Jackson said. “Soldiers who have taken this test … liked the assessment and they think it’s a better overall assessment and better indicator of your combat fitness.”

    The participants in the Camp Parks training agreed.

    “I think it's a great physical fitness test to better assess our warrior tasks and skills,” said Capt. Lehuanani Halemano of the Hawaii Army National Guard. “There will be a period where soldiers need to adjust and learn the movements. Overall I think it's more functional and may help with preventing injuries in relationship to what we need to do when we’re in combat, when we wear our gear and carry out equipment.”

    Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hernandez, from the 250th Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment in Long Beach, enthusiastically agreed.

    “The new test is an awesome test of fitness,” Hernandez said. “The variety and different tiers for MOS that you hold, it’s a great indicator of where your fitness needs to be for the different MOS.”

    Attendees acknowledged they had heard concerns and had questions when they came to the training.

    “I think the time domain was a big factor, and that was a question we had coming in here, Hernandez said. “The instructors who came down here did a wonderful job explaining and giving us different examples of how other states have executed the ACFT...As long as you are coming out with a little bit of imagination and ingenuity, it's not impossible to get an entire battalion through in a couple of hours.”

    Jackson said he hears a common concern about how troops should train for the exercises when they don’t have access to specific supplies. The events in the ACFT utilize specialized equipment, including sleds and deadlift bars. Because the test is meant to measure actions performed on a combat field, he said it’s not necessary to have access to a gym to train appropriately for the test.

    “We’ve been showing them the standards and how to train for the test when they don’t have the equipment readily available to them,” Jackson said. “Being the Guard or Reserve, we have soldiers located hours away from their closest training facility and those questions come up. How can I train for this when I have no kettlebells or hex bars? Showing them the tools you can use or utilise to compensate for the equipment they do not have is really beneficial.”

    Jackson said it’s easy to find exercises that can be done without the use of a gym.

    “If you have an ammo can or a water can, something you can train with, you can deadlift. Find a kettle bar and select a weight you can handle something small and then build up to it.”

    Hernandez, who is an advocate of crossfit style training, said he believes Soldiers can do well in the test with simple adjustments to their current training routines, without the need for weights or equipment.

    “I would definitely start with flexibility, core training and any bodyweight stuff you can do at your house or a park,” he said. “Push ups are a great tool. Pull-ups will have to be added if you aren't already doing them. I don’t think it’s needed for you to go to a gym or use weight to do well. Body weight will do just fine.”

    Another common question is how the test will be run by units who don’t have the equipment in their home station. The test requires far more graders, specialized spaces, and a longer set-up and run-time than the current Army Physical Fitness test. Training at Camp Parks created an opportunity for representatives from around the region to get hands-on training and become certified graders, ensuring proper resources are available to run the tests, even with the increased skills required from the graders.

    “Graders are well involved with each of the events,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot more moving pieces with the ACTF than the APFT. With proper training and time, practice to perfect your craft, it comes easier.”

    Additionally, funding has been secured to create permanent ACFT lanes in Camp Roberts and Camp San Luis Obispo. Units will be able to schedule these lanes for training and testing purposes.

    The MTT is traveling across the nation and to deployed units across the globe, bringing best practices and tips to help ensure the readiness of all members of the Army. Trainings like the one on Camp Parks also gives the attendees a chance to learn from one another.

    “It’s always great to cross train with other states you get to meet new people and hear about what they are doing in their states,” said Halemano. “We can learn about what we can apply in our home state.”

    While the test won’t be officially rolled out until October 2020, Jackson recommended that Soldiers find the opportunity to take a practice test as early as possible to better understand the areas where they need to train differently.

    “Don’t believe all the hoopla on social media,” Jackson said. “The test is a really great indicator of your combat fitness. The earlier you come out and find the MTT or you begin to train for it, the more successful you will be. We’re all in generally good shape already as Soldiers, so there’s nothing to be afraid of about physical fitness.

    Jackson said that he and the other trainers from the Army Fitness School are excited to go out and train all over the world, and that he’s seen no difference in readiness between the active duty Army, Reserves or National Guard. Rather, he said, it’s all about how commanders prepare and train their units for combat readiness. He said he believes the test is a great tool to help maintain the strength of the Army.

    “I really like the overall assessment of the test and how it’s more accurate than the APFT is,” Jackson said. “If we can get behind this test as an Army we’ll be more fit, and I have to get behind that...You want to stay on top and be the number one Army in the world, we have to be fit.”



    Date Taken: 05.10.2019
    Date Posted: 07.29.2019 01:06
    Story ID: 328014
    Location: DUBLIN, CA, US 

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