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    Challenges and cheers abound with new ACFT

    Challenges and cheers abound with new ACFT

    Photo By Spc. Amy Carle | Sgt. Steven J. Clough, Battalion medical liaison with the 223rd Military Intelligence...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Amy Carle 

    69th Public Affairs Detachment

    The Soldiers, all members of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, came to the school on July 21st to take the Army Combat Physical Fitness Test, the new assessment rolling out across all branches of the Army.

    The ACFT includes six different exercises performed over an hour, with minimal rest periods between each event. It is intended to simulate the kind of real-world activities Soldiers might experience during combat.

    1st Sgt. Kinidio J. Prado, operations NCOIC for the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, has been training extensively with his unit and said he is enthusiastic about the way the new test is challenging the Soldiers.

    “The Army Combat Fitness Test is an excellent, excellent assessment of a Soldier’s true fitness, Prado said. “It involves the true strength and cardiovascular assessment of a Soldier’s all-around fitness.”

    The 223rd is one of nine Army National Guard units currently field testing the ACFT prior to its official implementation in 2020. Abraham Lincoln High School partnered with the Battalion, which is based in San Francisco, to host the test and invite community members out to watch and learn about the training.

    The event marked the second time the 223rd has completed the assessment this year, and the unit’s Soldiers say they have learned a lot from the experience.

    Spc. Melisa G. Flores, a paralegal specialist with the 223rd, said that taking the test and paying attention to where she struggled helped her adjust her training.

    “The first one showed me what I needed to work on,” Flores said. “I used that, and I improved on this one. It’s a training thing, and you have to prepare yourself for it. You can’t just go in and knock it out.”

    Flores has competed in the Best Warrior Competition and has also received recognition for her high PT score. She says that the ACFT is physically demanding in unfamiliar and challenging ways. Even with her previous successes, she said she’s struggled with the new test.

    “I’m not doing as well on the ACFT,” Flores said. “It’s different because it focuses on the whole body, not just certain muscles. The ACFT is’s much more. It’s not age based or gender based; everyone has to get the same standard.”

    Flores said she has been enjoying training for the new events, not despite the demands it requires, but because of them.

    “You have to work for it,” she said. “Each time you take the test you can see how you’ve improved.”

    The 223rd Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel P. Yudin said this kind of challenge is one of the reasons the ACFT is so important.

    “It’s a challenge,” Yudin said. “We have to be comfortable experiencing discomfort to grow.”

    Prado agreed the test requires more from the Soldiers, including physical readiness, focus and planning.

    “The ACFT is 360 degrees different than the APFT,” Prado said. “The Army Combat Fitness Test now requires you to have a program with your exercise and your diet. If you don’t have those two elements of discipline in your day to day life your performance is going to severely lack.”

    Sgt. Steven J. Clough, the 223rd’s Battalion medical liaison and master fitness trainer, said he loves the new test, and the way it prepares Soldiers for real-life conditions.

    “the ACFT is a full body workout,” Clough said. “In comparison to the APFT it makes you 80% ready for combat. All of it, all together, it’s designed to condition you for perseverance in combat. Carrying kettlebells 25 meters and back, that’s like carrying ammo’s very practical and that’s why I like it.”

    While the test is designed to improve Soldier readiness, it brings other benefits as well, including teamwork and the morale that is built from competing against other Soldiers in the events.

    “The camaraderie is amazing,” Clough said. “It’s more exciting because the events are challenging. It’s a challenge on top of a challenge. You have to get through the exercise and pass, but then you are also provoked to challenge each other. That kind of camaraderie goes a long way. That’s what you need in combat, that kind of camaraderie. This test brings both of those together.”

    The test also requires more from each unit. Multiple lanes operate at once, and trained graders monitor the Soldiers for proper form and performance. Specialized equipment must be acquired prior to the events, and additional personnel are needed to administer and assess the test.

    All of these moving parts require planning and careful thought, said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Kiley Q. Laughlin.

    “Because of the logistical and operational challenges of the ACFT, it is essential that every unit commander and every operations officer is able to apply creative thinking and innovation to the test,” Laughlin said. “There is no sure-fire solution to the ACFT. Every iteration will require a consideration of multiple parameters.”

    The Soldiers all agreed that the test is a better assessment of physical readiness, and believe it will have a significant positive impact on the Army once it rolls out.

    “This not something be discouraged about,” Clough said. “This is something that is far better and in the end..”

    He paused, trying to find the right words, when Flores jumped in.

    “It’s a total body transformation,” she said.

    “Yes,” Clough said, smiling. “It’s a body transformation! The Army is not going to look the same in 10 years, even in five years, as it does now.”



    Date Taken: 07.21.2019
    Date Posted: 07.29.2019 01:18
    Story ID: 333319
    Location: SAN FRANCISCO, CA, US 

    Web Views: 395
    Downloads: 0