For quite some time, the alarm has been sounded by American military officials that the youth of the nation is woefully out of shape and would not be able to pass military fitness tests.
What has not been said, though, is that when the Army, specifically, changed its way of evaluating recruits as they went through basic training, the recruits themselves were not served well. One internet reporter has been sounding the alarm on this for quite a while with full acknowledgment that he might well be wrong.
In previous articles for ClearanceJobs, I’ve thrown rocks at the Army’s catastrophically ill-considered Army Combat Fitness Test—the planned successor to the proven and successful Army Physical Fitness Test. I will admit, however, that my arguments against it emerged strictly from experience and logic. I am a fan of the original APFT because I watched soldiers in my platoon take the challenge to raise their scores, and watched pounds melt away and recruiting poster paratroopers emerge. As for logic, the APFT essentially costs a unit ten bucks and two hours to run through an entire company of soldiers, whereas the ACFT costs… more. Tens of millions of dollars more.
Well, it turns out this reporter, David Brown, is/was not wrong:
The only thing that fails harder than the ACFT are the soldiers forced to take it.
According to the numbers, a jaw-dropping 36% of soldiers overall failed the test, with 64% passing. When you break it down by gender, 70% of men passed. But here is a number should kill and bury the ACFT evermore: 84% of women failed the test. Those numbers are so absurdly biased against women that I was afraid this was some sort of elaborate joke by Duffelblog. But I spoke with one soldier in a leadership position at an ACFT test battalion, and the soldier confirmed that the leaked numbers lined up almost exactly with those of the soldier’s battalion.
These numbers were LEAKED? As in the Army does not want to admit this is the case? Really.
Here is why those fail numbers are so bad, male or female: you fail your physical training test, you get flagged. You aren’t going to military schools like Basic Leader Course or Airborne School. And if somehow you get there anyway, when you’re tested again you’ll be turned around and sent home. You cannot be promoted. You cannot be reclassified into another MOS. In the Guard and reserve, you cannot be transferred. You lose your tuition assistance. You can’t even reenlist!
And then there’s what the test does not do for women:
Here is where it gets really ugly. If 84% of women are failing this test—keep in mind, 84% of women who are in battalions specifically preparing for the ACFT—you have essentially eliminated women from the United States Army. It gets uglier yet. When a woman gives birth, she gets a six-month profile excusing her from the ACFT. The thing is: the real killer for women is the “leg tuck” portion of the ACFT, in which you assume a pull-up position and bring your hips and knees up to your elbows and back down as many times as possible in two minutes. That’s asking an awful lot for a woman who has given birth in the last few months; and allows, basically, for no time to actually train up for the event once her profile expires. Already, women are failing the leg tuck test by 72%.
Talk about sexist.
The author of the piece goes on to detail more of what makes the current Army fitness standards a disaster. Why the tried and true was messed with is a good question now that the new version of it is a proven failure.