Some Thoughts on the "ACFT 3.0"

The internet has been ablaze in regards to the the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) recently.1See the US Army's official site for the ACFT at https://www.army.mil/acft. Specifically, for the rumor that the ACFT might undergo another massive change to create its third version.2"Scores for the Army’s New Fitness Test May Not End Up ‘Gender-Neutral’ After All" by Haley Britzky The rumor being that the third version won't be gender neutral or even age neutral.

The second version is currently the one implemented, but more will be known soon about its implementation. A congressionally mandated and independent review of the ACFT should be completed by the end of 2021 according to SMA Grinston.3"SMA Reveals Timeline for Army’s Independent Review of ACFT" by Matthew Cox Specifically, that a final report is scheduled to be produced come December 2021.4"SMA Reveals Timeline for Army’s Independent Review of ACFT" by Matthew Cox

SMA Grinston stated that he expects the ACFT to evolve, "just as the APFT did over time."5"SMA Reveals Timeline for Army’s Independent Review of ACFT" by Matthew Cox The current standards (as of 1 Oct 19) for the ACFT 2.0 can be found here. Here are the regression equations I created/found (using MS Excel 2019) for the events considering only point values from 60 and higher:

Maximum Deadlift:
P ≈ 0.0000000037*W5 - 0.00000227*W4 + 0.0007123521*W3 - 0.1206761*W2 + 10.5888367*W - 321.32149
P - points received, W - weight successfully lifted | R2 ≈ 0.999443

Standing Power Throw:
P ≈ 0.0010277605*D6 - 0.0479574623*D5 + 0.886454062*D4 - 8.24*D3 + 40.658528*D2 - 98.7455*D + 148.3
P - points received, D - distance thrown in meters | R2 ≈ 0.99962

Hand Release Pushup:
P ≈ 0.000000006*R6 - 0.000000732*R5 + 0.00000385*R4 + 0.0027*R3 - 0.12*R2 + 2.34138*R + 45.7538
P - points received, R - successful reps | R2 ≈ 0.99979

Sprint Drag Carry:
P ≈ 0.000000003*T6 - 0.00000234*T5 + 0.0007445*T4 - 0.1236*T3 + 11.27*T2 - 534.82*T + 10,423.1
P - points received, T - time in seconds | R2 ≈ 0.998887

Leg Tuck:
P ≈ - 0.0001625234*T4 + 0.0085711231*T3 - 0.160948*T2 + 3.25889*T + 56.6
P - points received, T - number of successful tucks | R2 ≈ 0.999774

2mi Run:
P ≈ - 0.0015467413*T6 + 0.153460354*T5 - 6.30333745*T4 + 137.2626*T3 - 1,672*T2 + 10,798.929*T - 28,764
P - points received, T - time in minutes | R2 ≈ 0.99996

Currently, according to Task & Purpose, the Army is considering score soldiers by gender according to a "service-wide percentile."6"Scores for the Army’s New Fitness Test May Not End Up ‘Gender-Neutral’ After All" by Haley Britzky This goes starkly against the original goals of the ACFT, however I do see some light in this darkness.

The Army acknowledges the "physiological difference[s] between men and women" and to do so they have thought of making a tier system, while also using the gender percentile referenced above.7"Scores for the Army’s New Fitness Test May Not End Up ‘Gender-Neutral’ After All" by Haley Britzky The proposed system splits the results into 5 categories of fitness: green, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.8"Scores for the Army’s New Fitness Test May Not End Up ‘Gender-Neutral’ After All" by Haley Britzky This is how the percentile scores would be grouped for "removing gender disparities."9"Scores for the Army’s New Fitness Test May Not End Up ‘Gender-Neutral’ After All" by Haley Britzky Promotion points are also supposed to correlate to the tier you achieve (100% for platinum and 10% less for each tier lower).10"Scores for the Army’s New Fitness Test May Not End Up ‘Gender-Neutral’ After All" by Haley Britzky They hope to use this to "mimic" our national allies and work around other biometric factors.11"Scores for the Army’s New Fitness Test May Not End Up ‘Gender-Neutral’ After All" by Haley Britzky

I can get behind this methodology, however I don't think the variable of age has been thoroughly thought of yet or how a 50th percentile man to woman would look or impact a combat MOS. Just think of a 60 year old, male 11B.12"11B - Infantryman" by GoArmy He might be a fit old guy, but compared to a normal 21 year old 11B it wouldn't even be a contest. As well, consider that a 100 on the 2mi in the APFT for a 17 to 21 year old male is 13:00, while for a female it is 15:36.13"Army PFT Two-Mile Run Score Chart" by Stew Smith That's a 20% slower time. Those male's score of 64 is the female's 100.14"Army PFT Two-Mile Run Score Chart" by Stew Smith That's just over passing for a male ... These similarities are seen in other events and physical feats.

CPT Kristen Griest (the Army’s first female infantry officer and one of the exceptionally few female Ranger graduates15"Army’s First Female Infantry Officer is Capt. Kristen Griest, Ranger School Graduate" by Dan Lamothe) wrote an article for the Modern War Institute speaking much to the same points as mine recently on 25 Feb 21. Here is my favorite part of it:

"Reverting to gender-based scoring and reducing the minimum standard for combat arms will also hurt the women in those branches. Under a gender-based system, women in combat arms have to fight every day to dispel the notion that their presence inherently weakens these previously all-male units. Lower female standards also reinforce the belief that women cannot perform the same job as men, therefore making it difficult for women to earn the trust and confidence of their teammates. The original ACFT promised some respite from these perceptions, but a reversion to gender-based scoring threatens to validate them. While it may be difficult for a 120-pound woman to lift or drag 250 pounds, the Army cannot artificially absolve women of that responsibility; it may still exist on the battlefield. The entire purpose of creating a gender-neutral test was to acknowledge the reality that each job has objective physical standards to which all soldiers should be held, regardless of gender. The intent was not to ensure that women and men will have an equal likelihood of meeting those standards. Rather, it is incumbent upon women who volunteer for the combat arms profession to ensure they are fully capable and qualified for it. To not require women to meet equal standards in combat arms will not only undermine their credibility, but also place those women, their teammates, and the mission at risk."

"With Equal Opportunity Comes Equal Responsibility: Lowering Fitness Standards to Accommodate Women Will Hurt the Army—and Women" by Kristen M. Griest

To conclude, the ACFT isn't perfect, just like the APFT wasn't, but that doesn't mean it can't get better. This is what the Army, or rather the US military in general, is aiming to do: reach a system that works. We will have to deal with the quirks along the way, but I have some faith the results will come in due time.

Sources

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