After talk, thought, trials and more talk, the Army has shoved the new PT (Physical Training) test back in the closet. Officially, the test is on hold until it is further researched, although some units began testing the test back in the early part of 2011.
Perhaps the Army is just making extra sure the new test will really work. That’s probably a good thing, because there’s a lot of confusion surrounding this new “test.”
The old test, which the Army started using in 1980 and is still in use today, is about as simple as a meal ready to eat.
It gives soldiers a clear mission: Do as many push-ups as possible in two minutes; Do as many sit-ups as possible in two minutes; Run two miles.
That’s it. Simple, right?
Soldiers still have to pass the test, of course, with standards based on age. And if one can’t pass the required amount of push-ups or sit-ups for one’s age, then one could be on their way out of the Army.
Now, take at look at the proposed new PT test, which, according to an Army article in 2011, is divided into the “Army Physical Readiness Test” and “Army Combat Readiness Test.”
The new Army Physical Readiness Test has five events:
60-yard shuttle run measures lower body muscular strength and anaerobic power, assessing speed, agility and coordination.
1-minute rower (variation of a sit-up) measures total body muscular endurance and assesses total body coordination.
Standing long jump measures lower body muscular strength and assesses lower body power.
1-minute push-up measures upper body muscular endurance and assesses trunk stability.
1.5-mile run measures lower body muscular endurance and aerobic capacity and assesses speed stability.
The new Army Combat Readiness Test has five events:
400-meter run assesses upper body muscular endurance and anaerobic power, coordination, speed, and stability.
Individual movement techniques assess upper and lower body muscular endurance, agility, balance, coordination, speed and stability.
Ammo can shuttle sprint assesses total body muscular strength and endurance, agility, coordination, speed, stability and power.
Casualty drag assesses total body muscular strength and endurance, agility, coordination, speed, stability and power.
Agility sprint assesses lower body anaerobic power, speed and power.
Confused yet? I am. It sounds like some crazy version of the Olympics.
It all came about because the Army’s training command “implemented a physical fitness training philosophy that soldiers are better prepared if they train how they would fight,” according to an article I read on the Army’s website.
That kind of makes sense, but here’s the rub: Physical fitness training is not war training.
Professional soldiers don’t put on their sneakers and gray T-shirts to get ready for battle. They put on their helmet or get in their M1 battle tank to go to battle.
It’s simply two different topics: A soldier puts on his PT gear to get in shape, and he goes to the range or training site to practice his war skills.
If all the training is effective, you have a soldier ready for battle: physically fit and a trained marksman.
That said, there is nothing wrong with units that incorporate road marches or muscle-building exercises with their equipment into their training. Such training builds morale and toughness, but it shouldn’t replace regular PT all of the time.
In summary, the current PT test is just fine, and brings up an old saying often used in the Army: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the metro editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468.