FORT CARSON, Colo. – A baseline soldier physical readiness training study was conducted on Fort Carson, to develop a new physical readiness test designed around warrior tasks and battle drills, Sept. 16–26.
Ten years of warfare have led leaders to the understanding that Army physical training and testing doesn’t adequately prepare soldiers to conduct their mission essential tasks, said Dr. Whitfield East.
East, co-lead, baseline soldier physical readiness training study, Initial Military Training Center of Excellence, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said that the current Army physical fitness test hasn’t been changed since 1979, and the mission of this study is to develop a new APFT that assesses the physical requirements needed to fulfill mission essential tasks.
“The most interesting thing we have found so far with this study is a very poor correlation with performance on the APFT and running the functional tests,” said East. “The confirmatory finding we have found so far is that this lane takes a significant amount of muscular strength and a significant level of aerobic work capacity to be able to do these tasks.”
Staff Sgt. Jeff Heilman, drill sergeant of the year 2012, IMTCOE, TRADOC, said certain skills separate soldiers from the rest of the population.
“Warrior tasks and battle drills are the vehicle that we all jump on that makes [a person] a soldier.”
Heilman said the Army needs to better assess soldiers on their warrior tasks and battle drills.
“We need a better test that measures functional exercises that soldiers are required to perform in combat. Is the time to find out if the soldier on the left or right of you can drag you out [when] you are wounded? We need to be able to assess a soldiers’ abilities before we send them down range and get hurt, because they can’t meet the requirements.”
One Fort Carson soldier who participated in the study feels the physical readiness test will give leaders another tool to help develop and assess their soldiers in the future.
“This test actually shows a soldier’s whole strength and endurance compared to the current PT test. This test makes you use everything in your body,” said Sgt. Jamison Spencer, training room noncommissioned officer, 984th Military Police Company, 759th Military Police Battalion. “It shows exactly what they are made of.
“It will make the Army stronger,” Spencer added. “It is a tool that will show leaders that their soldiers are actually prepared for combat or any other future operations.”
Spencer said it will give all soldiers more confidence during combat operations.
“If everybody could do this, how much more comfortable would you be if you knew your Humvee got hit and a female had to drag you out now, because that is what they are doing,” he added. “I love how the females and males are doing everything the same. I really like how the Army is starting to look outside the box on this.”
Another soldier said he hopes the Army goes to a test similar to the one conducted during the study.
“This test honestly gauges a soldier more on their abilities to be able to shoot, move and communicate,” said Spc. Ben Byerly, military police, 127th Military Police Company, 759th MP Bn. “Instead of doing your standard pushups, sit-ups and run, which is good … this actually demonstrates a soldiers’ all around cardiovascular and muscular endurance.
“Being able to move a certain amount of weight and navigate obstacles instead of just doing the current PT test; it adds more of a real world ‘I could be doing this’ feel,” Byerly added. “I love it; it’s outstanding.”
It will be a while before any results are seen from the study though. East said it will still be another year before the study is complete, and a physical fitness test is designed that the whole Army can do.