In my time in the Army I went through more versions of the APFT than I care to remember. From the run-dodge-and-jump and grenade throw to the inverted crawl to the current one they’ve all been purported to be better than the last in measuring the fitness of Soldiers.
We’re about to see another new one. As the Army Times reports, these will be the events:
• Two-mile run. The initial plan was to cut the run to a mile and a half, which is considered the best measure of cardiovascular fitness. But the rank and file sounded off and said the extra half-mile measures the heart.
Maj. Gen. Richard Longo, who as deputy commanding general of Initial Military Training was responsible for designing the new test, said leaders may toughen the scoring scale to ensure better fitness.
• Pushups for one minute. This event was nearly replaced with dead-hang pullups, which are a better measure of functional upper body strength. Pullups were included in more than 1,000 pilot tests conducted at Fort Bliss, Texas. The scoring discrepancy between men and women was so great that different events would have been required to keep it fair. For example, Marines test men with dead-hangs and women with a flex-arm hang.
Army officials are adamant that the new test remain gender-neutral. That means identical events with different scoring standards for men and women.
“If we did the pullups, it would disadvantage the female soldiers, and I’m just not comfortable with that,” Longo said.
• Rower for one minute. Officials looked hard at doubling the rower from one to two minutes. Evaluations showed that the shorter version had a steep bell curve with little variation. But the Fort Bliss evaluation showed the two-minute rower brought little change to the results.
• 60-yard shuttle run. The big change is that this event will be pass/fail, for now. The same is true for the fifth and final event.
• Standing long jump. Soldiers have been less than enthusiastic about this event and the shuttle run. Officials opted for the pass/fail scoring to allow sufficient time for both events to settle into the ranks.
Now I’ll leave it to others to explain to me why if a mile and half is a better measure of cardiovascular fitness, the Army is going to do two-miles. And perhaps you can also explain why the “comfort” of leadership is more important than using an event that better measures functional upper body strength. Oh, and what a standing long jump has to do with much of anything?
As an old guy, I’m not familiar with the “rower” and if it is simply a rowing machine, one assumes it too will measure cardiovascular fitness, but why I’m not sure, given the run.
And the 60 yard shuttle? I assume that’s a measure of agility, so in essence we’re back to run-dodge-jump?