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Old 10-08-2019, 02:10 PM
HurricaneDitka is offline
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84% of female soldiers are failing the US Army's new gender-neutral physical fitness test (ACFT)


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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.
source

What should the Army do about this? Should they go back to different standards for (realizing I might be stepping into a quagmire with this next word, but unsure how else to phrase it) each gender? Should the test be changed? The event the women seem to be struggling the most with is the "leg tuck". The Army's website describes it like this:

Quote:
Complete as many leg tucks as possible in two minutes; maintain a relative vertical posture while moving the hips and knees up and down without excessive swinging or kipping

The Leg Tuck (LTK) assesses the strength of the Soldiers grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles. These muscles assist Soldiers in load carriage and in avoiding injuries to the back.
Are things like "the strength of the Soldiers grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles" rightfully important to the Army and this is just a bad way of measuring them? Is there a way to measure "the strength of the Soldiers grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles" that would be more favorable to female soldiers? Or should the Army be working on ways to fight a war that don't involve soldiers carrying loads and / or injuring their backs?
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:31 PM
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Is there a source for the slide other than the US Army WTF Moments facebook group?
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
Is there a source for the slide other than the US Army WTF Moments facebook group?
I don't think so. The test results have been described as a "leak". I doubt you'll get some official acknowledgement of the results in the public domain. You're doubting that they're authentic or accurate? I think it's pretty obvious that what Shodan said is true:

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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
... no test involving upper body strength is going to have gender-neutral results. Men are way stronger than women, particularly in the upper body, and training increases the gap. The short answer is No. Any measurement of arm or shoulder strength is going to disfavor female soldiers. ...
and that reality is being reflected in the results of the ACFT.

Last edited by HurricaneDitka; 10-08-2019 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
I don't think so. The test results have been described as a "leak". I doubt you'll get some official acknowledgement of the results in the public domain. You're doubting that they're authentic or accurate? I think it's pretty obvious that what Shodan said is true:



and that reality is being reflected in the results of the ACFT.
This reality that is supposed to be pretty obvious to you, me and Shodan but has somehow slipped by the US Army? Maybe it hasn't and there's a reason that the first recorded ACFT is at least a year out still. I'm not going to work myself into a lather about something posted on facebook by someone who uses sPonGeMOcK tEXt.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:41 PM
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I don't know what the Army was thinking - no test involving upper body strength is going to have gender-neutral results. Men are way stronger than women, particularly in the upper body, and training increases the gap.
Quote:
Is there a way to measure "the strength of the Soldiers grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles" that would be more favorable to female soldiers?
The short answer is No. Any measurement of arm or shoulder strength is going to disfavor female soldiers. That was why they used to test women with the bent arm hang, and men with pullups.
Quote:
Or should the Army be working on ways to fight a war that don't involve soldiers carrying loads and / or injuring their backs?
Yes, they should, and they are. But there are still lots of ways of fighting wars that do involve carrying loads, and that cannot be eliminated.

You will always need boots on the ground, and boots on the ground always mean packs on the back. And rifles and rations and radios and ammunition and all the things we give the Army to kill people and break things.

The Army could make the test easier. Then more of the 30% of men would pass as well as more of the 84% of the women who failed.

Is the Army making its recruiting goals? If they aren't, maybe look into why. If they are, I don't see a problem.
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A second-best military is the most expensive luxury on earth.
The only significant measure of an army that is best, vs. second-best, is how good are they at killing people and breaking things. Whether they are 50% female, 5% female, or 100% male, is irrelevant.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
I don't know what the Army was thinking - no test involving upper body strength is going to have gender-neutral results. Men are way stronger than women, particularly in the upper body, and training increases the gap. The short answer is No. Any measurement of arm or shoulder strength is going to disfavor female soldiers. ...
That's not true at all. Altho, yes, Women do have less upper body strength, this test doesnt pass the upper 50% or anything, it just sets a standard.

You could have a test for upper body strength that 95% of females would pass.
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:17 PM
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That's not true at all. Altho, yes, Women do have less upper body strength, this test doesnt pass the upper 50% or anything, it just sets a standard.

You could have a test for upper body strength that 95% of females would pass.
Yes, it sets a standard. The standard is one that most women can't meet, and most men can. Because far more men are in the upper 50% of upper body strength for human beings. Because men, on average, have far more upper body strength.

And you could certainly devise a test for upper body strength that 95% of women could pass. 99+% of men would pass it, and you would still have gender disparity. Besides, it misses the point.

The purpose is not to devise a test that women can pass. The purpose of the test is to find out who has enough upper body strength to meet the standard to be an effective soldier. Biology indicates that far more men than women are going to meet that standard.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:58 PM
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Did you share before Facebook takes it down?
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:11 PM
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So exactly who has to pass this test? The vast majority of people in the Army don't do anything more physically strenuous than what civilians do.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:19 PM
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So exactly who has to pass this test? The vast majority of people in the Army don't do anything more physically strenuous than what civilians do.
Regardless of your garrison job, every soldier receives basic combat training and has the potential to require use of the Basic Training every soldier receives. Even a desk clerk might find him/herself in a position to carry a wounded comrade back to the truck, etc.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:28 PM
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Regardless of your garrison job, every soldier receives basic combat training and has the potential to require use of the Basic Training every soldier receives. Even a desk clerk might find him/herself in a position to carry a wounded comrade back to the truck, etc.
You could say the same thing about me, a 39-year-old Air Force veteran and current reservist. At no point in my 17 year career would I ever have been able to drag a 200lb soldier with gear out of a firefight, and I (a male) would have no problem passing the Army's fitness test. I know the Air Force is not the Army, but the Army is not the Army infantry, and the Army infantry isn't Delta Force.

Gender neutral requirements for specific jobs are fine, but if 84% of all female soldiers are failing a baseline fitness test, the test is too hard. If these stats are true, and I'm skeptical, then someone seriously fucked up in setting the standards.

Again, I'm skeptical. I want to reiterate that.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by steronz View Post
Gender neutral requirements for specific jobs are fine, but if 84% of all female soldiers are failing a baseline fitness test, the test is too hard.
What failure percentage would you say wouldn’t mean the test is too hard?
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:40 PM
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What failure percentage would you say wouldn’t mean the test is too hard?
Yes, we should be careful not to go from an "unequal outcome" to "discrimination". Unequal outcome is a red flag, not evidence of discrimination.

Work ability tests can be fairly too approximative. I remember push-ups being a big deal in the Canadian military but, even though I was quite good at them, I'm not sure that helped me out much aside from having an easier time during punishments.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:45 PM
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What failure percentage would you say wouldn’t mean the test is too hard?
A 20-30% failure rate would probably bring it inline with other branches and/or the previous test.

I have other opinions about military fitness tests but they're outside the scope of this thread.
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
So exactly who has to pass this test? ...
(Almost*) everyone in the Army.

From the Army ACFT FAQs:

Quote:
Why does a clerk, a nurse, cyber-warrior, etc. need to take a “combat fitness test?”

All Soldiers, regardless of MOS, must be capable to deploy and fight. From the Army Vision: “The Army Mission – our purpose – remains constant: To deploy, fight, and win our nation's wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustain land dominance by Army forces.” To accomplish that mission, the Army will “build readiness for high intensity conflict” with training that “will be tough, realistic, iterative and battled-focused.” The battlefields of today and tomorrow are increasingly complex, fluid, and uncertain; they demand that all Soldiers are physically fit and ready for full-spectrum operations.
* There are apparently alternative events:

Quote:
Who qualifies for alternate assessments?

Army senior leaders have approved a modification of the ACFT that included three aerobic test events for selected Soldiers with permanent profiles that prevent full participation in the 6-event test. The alternate assessment, including the additional aerobic test events, do not apply to Soldiers with temporary profiles. Soldiers on temporary profiles are expected to recondition, retrain, and pass the full six-event ACFT.
I don't have any hard figures to cite, but I'd be surprised if the % of "selected Soldiers with permanent profiles that prevent full participation in the 6-event test" is very high.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
(Almost*) everyone in the Army.

From the Army ACFT FAQs:



* There are apparently alternative events:



I don't have any hard figures to cite, but I'd be surprised if the % of "selected Soldiers with permanent profiles that prevent full participation in the 6-event test" is very high.
It might not be clear from the terminology, but a "permanent profile" is something that a permanently injured soldier receives from a medical doctor. They are only issued to personnel who have injuries which limit a specific activity, but not necessarily prevent them from doing their job. The profile lists specific physical limitations for the soldier, and will explicitly state which exercises of the APFT or ACFT they are exempt from. For these events, an alternate event is authorized.
  #17  
Old 10-08-2019, 03:40 PM
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Here is some additional information on the data from the OP:

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A leaked document was posted on social media this week showing a roughly 70 percent pass rate for men and an 84 percent failure rate for women, with many of the failures attributed to the leg tuck event. The slides, which came from Army Forces Command and not CIMT, documented testing conducted by 11 of the 63 battalions tested this past year.

“That was a snapshot from those units,” Hibbard said. “I cautioned the Army senior leaders when I did a brief with the vice three weeks ago because when we start aggregating the data, people are going to make conclusions. The problem is, most of the time, when they did the diagnostic test, this is the first time they’ve ever done it.”

A lot of units hadn’t trained for the ACFT prior to their first practice test, Hibbard warned. Most of the time, units were briefed on the exercises involved and then they scheduled the test.
source

It seems to me pretty clear that they're quietly / tacitly acknowledging that the numbers are accurate, but with a couple of caveats:

1) this is only a subset of all the battalions taking the new test

2) this test is new, and they expect that soldiers will train and prepare for it over the next year so that when it becomes the test of record, more of them will pass

ETA:

Quote:
“The chart in question is not an official document and wasn’t assessed or aggregated by CIMT to produce official results,” said Lt. Col. Peggy Kageleiry, public affairs director for CIMT.

The Center for Initial Military Training has been collecting data and feedback regarding the ACFT and plans to do so throughout the test’s implementation this year, until it becomes the test of record on Oct. 1, 2020, according to Kageleiry.

“It is premature to discuss pass/fail rates as troops are not familiar with or trained for the ACFT," Kageleiry said in a statement to Army Times. “For many Soldiers, their initial ‘test’ was the first time they had ever executed a fitness test with strength, power or anaerobic exercises pegged against high demand Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills."

“It is vital to emphasize that the first record ACFT is at least 13-14 months away,” she added. “The Army will use this year to teach, train and mentor troops on how to prepare for the ACFT and therefore prepare for their combat mission. When training is complete and units have adapted to the new test, we expect performance rates to be similar to the current test.”
source

Last edited by HurricaneDitka; 10-08-2019 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:17 PM
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Why does agreeing with other tests mean that that test is good? It could be the other tests which are wrong.
Fair point.

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Originally Posted by MichaelEmouse View Post
OP can chime in but I'd think that the level of relevance of military fitness tests is germane to the issue.
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
I agree, and the Army certainly seems to think that the new ACFT is relevant to the job of being a soldier in the US Army: https://www.army.mil/acft/#faq-section-1
Very well then. Yes, the Army has lots of rules. And it's almost a trope that good people fuck off to the civilian world because they can make more money without all the hassle, and the upper ranks are filled with lazy deadbeats who can't hack it elsewhere but know how not to get kicked out until they can retire.


Now imagine you're not a US Army policy maker, you're a 45-year-old US Army Intel squadron commander. Your best troop, like your 100% go-to soldier for getting-shit-done to complete the mission and win the war, is constantly stressed out because she's worried she won't be able to do enough leg tucks. Or worse, she actually does get kicked out, against your say-so, because big Army is worried that she won't be able to drag a soldier out of convoy ambush that she'll never be in. That sucks. Or just imagine your favorite, hardest working coworker at whatever job you work gets fired for making personal copies or some other dumb rule violation that you don't really care about because it doesn't affect you in any way.

It's true that the standards aren't that tough, and if people really wanted to stay in the military they'd find a way to pass. Rules are rules, after all, and we all have to follow them. But that's of little consolation when you're losing good people to a fitness test that will 99.99% of the time never apply to them.


(This opinions are my own, and do not reflect my professional views as a senior NCO, nor the views of the US Air Force. Others in my position can and do disagree with my feelings).

Last edited by steronz; 10-08-2019 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:48 PM
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Back in the dark ages (early 1970s) there were a lot of complaints about women applicants failing to pass some physical tests on the grounds that they would not be able to successfully use the "fireman's carry" to remove injured or unconscious people from burning buildings. Then someone realized that a standing firefighter holding an injured person up above the ground where the most smoke and toxic air existed was dangerous to both the firefighter and the victim. Tests were changed to use dragging to remove victims and the number of successful women applicant went up. It had nothing to do with "lowering standards" but happened roughly contemporaneously.

How have women been performing in actual combat? If they have been failing, then they should not be permitted in combat roles when they fail the ACFT. On the other hand, if women have not been failing in combat, the ACFT should be redesigned to test realistic conditions, not hypothetical ones.
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Old 10-08-2019, 05:59 PM
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... If they have been failing, then they should not be permitted in combat roles when they fail the ACFT. On the other hand, if women have not been failing in combat, the ACFT should be redesigned to test realistic conditions, not hypothetical ones.
This test, the ACFT, at least in the eyes of the Army, is exactly the result of that "redesigned to test realistic conditions" effort. Again, quoting from the Army's FAQ:

Quote:
The character of war is changing as are the physical demands of combat. The APFT primarily provides an assessment of muscular and aerobic endurance. The Army has determined that for Soldiers to be ready for the rigors of operations in a complex environment, they must possess significant physical capacity in the following components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, power, speed, agility, cardio endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time. Based on our analysis, the ACFT events most strongly correlate with combat readiness. The APFT is assessed to have 40 percent predictive power for combat performance; the ACFT is assessed to have 80 percent predictive power.
(emphasis mine)
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Old 10-08-2019, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by steronz View Post

Now imagine you're not a US Army policy maker, you're a 45-year-old US Army Intel squadron commander. Your best troop, like your 100% go-to soldier for getting-shit-done to complete the mission and win the war, is constantly stressed out because she's worried she won't be able to do enough leg tucks. Or worse, she actually does get kicked out, against your say-so, because big Army is worried that she won't be able to drag a soldier out of convoy ambush that she'll never be in. That sucks. Or just imagine your favorite, hardest working coworker at whatever job you work gets fired for making personal copies or some other dumb rule violation that you don't really care about because it doesn't affect you in any way.

It's true that the standards aren't that tough, and if people really wanted to stay in the military they'd find a way to pass. Rules are rules, after all, and we all have to follow them. But that's of little consolation when you're losing good people to a fitness test that will 99.99% of the time never apply to them.
I can see, yes.

The argument for high fitness tests for REMFs is that they might find themselves in a situation where they have to fight as infantry. That's true. And it has to be weighed according to its probability of actually happening. That probability-adjusted loss now has to be compared to the probability-adjusted loss of sacking high performance personnel for being bad at a job they're 99% likely not to actually end up doing.

It reminds me of early 20th century rifle designers who said: "Yes, but what *IF* you need to engage at 800 meters?" even if the vast majority of engagement were within 400 meters. Sometimes requiring more gives you less overall.
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:28 PM
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This test, the ACFT, at least in the eyes of the Army, is exactly the result of that "redesigned to test realistic conditions" effort. Again, quoting from the Army's FAQ:

The Army has determined that for Soldiers to be ready for the rigors of operations in a complex environment, they must possess significant physical capacity in the following components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, power, speed, agility, cardio endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time.
How does this test even TEST some of those attributes? Balance, flexibility, agility, reaction time, and coordination are completely ignored in favor of stuff that men----being bigger and having more muscle mass----have less trouble with than women.

If the military wants to get rid of women, just do it openly and stop pretending. Weight lifting is what this amounts to. That does not make you a good soldier. It makes you a good weight lifter. I guess the linguists, analysts, interrogators (me!), translators, and everybody but the 11Bs can bugger off, then.
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Last edited by margin; 10-16-2019 at 02:29 PM. Reason: a comma
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Old 10-16-2019, 03:02 PM
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How does this test even TEST some of those attributes? Balance, flexibility, agility, reaction time, and coordination are completely ignored in favor of stuff that men----being bigger and having more muscle mass----have less trouble with than women.

If the military wants to get rid of women, just do it openly and stop pretending. Weight lifting is what this amounts to. That does not make you a good soldier. It makes you a good weight lifter. I guess the linguists, analysts, interrogators (me!), translators, and everybody but the 11Bs can bugger off, then.
The leg tuck event is only one of six exercises in the ACFT. Collectively, those six events measure the physical attributes the US Army cares about (among them muscular strength and muscular endurance). The leg tuck event specifically is a measure of "the strength of the Soldiers grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles". It seems like it demonstrates some elements of flexibility too (e.g. if one struggles to bend at the elbow, shoulder, back, hip or knee this test would be a significant challenge).

ETA: as has already been mentioned, the test is gender-neutral, but job-specific, so someone like an interrogator might not be expected to meet the same demanding physical fitness standards that are expected of an infantryman.

Last edited by HurricaneDitka; 10-16-2019 at 03:03 PM.
  #24  
Old 10-08-2019, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by tomndebb View Post
How have women been performing in actual combat? If they have been failing, then they should not be permitted in combat roles when they fail the ACFT. On the other hand, if women have not been failing in combat, the ACFT should be redesigned to test realistic conditions, not hypothetical ones.
The definition of "combat" can be wishy-washy, with different meanings depending on the situation, the service, and whoever happens to be in charge on that particular day. For the VA, combat doesn’t even have to involve combat.

Situationally, there is a difference between having to spend days or weeks at an isolated outpost in the mountains, going out on patrols that routinely come under fire and where the amount of ammo and other equipment you can carry equals life, vs. riding in an armored vehicle that gets disabled by an IED and comes under fire. In one case, "more" (in terms of physical ability) is almost always going to be better. In the other, some cardio would be nice, and it’d also be nice if you could at least drag a wounded soldier out of one vehicle and into another, but in that case you don’t even need everyone to be able to do that (or you could pair up with a buddy and both drag the wounded out of the vehicle). In that case, excess strength is a nice to have, but what is far more important is the ability to keep one’s head, shoot, and apply first aid (not that you don’t need that in the mountains too, but you also need a whole lot more then).

With all that said, most women (and maybe even most men) with combat experience would probably fall into the latter category (armored vehicles, convoy, IED, burst of action, then withdrawal to relative safety). So it’s not enough to just look at "generic combat" performance and apply that as an army-wide standard (one would imagine the infantry would need a much higher standard for those more isolated encounters on foot).

What I wish, what I really wish, is that all the services would put some real thought into the kind of physical demands each particular branch or specialty needs as a minimum threshold, and get some actual PhDs involved (including some who have no military experience whatsoever, to help keep those with a military background honest and force them to back up their assumptions and pre-conceived notions). My personal experience is with the Navy, and my sense is that leadership has no clue what it actually needs/wants from a physical fitness test, and enforcement of standards (whether or not discharges are mandatory beyond a certain number of failures and whether or not unit-level leaders can waive failures without higher approval) seems to vary based primarily on whether it needs to grow or shrink the size of the force. But I'm just jaded like that.

Oh, and one last grenade to throw into the discussion, I think in some instances certain factions of the military (factions among its flag and general officer leadership) may use the idea of gender-neutral, perhaps overly rigorous or service-wide, combat fitness tests as an excuse to drag feet on opening up more specialities to women. But that’s just a gut feeling and, again, I’m kind of jaded.

ETA:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelEmouse View Post
Sometimes requiring more gives you less overall.
Thats a very good way of putting it, and something that too often gets lost in these kinds of discussions.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 10-08-2019 at 06:38 PM.
  #25  
Old 10-08-2019, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ASL v2.0 View Post
... What I wish, what I really wish, is that all the services would put some real thought into the kind of physical demands each particular branch or specialty needs as a minimum threshold, and get some actual PhDs involved (including some who have no military experience whatsoever, to help keep those with a military background honest and force them to back up their assumptions and pre-conceived notions). ...
They did that, or at least they said they did:

Quote:
What type of work/research did the Army conduct to determine if such a test is needed?

The primary effort in the development of the ACFT was the Baseline Soldier Physical Readiness Requirements and Physical Demands Study. Based upon the results of this study the Army identified 10 components of physical fitness and the contribution of each component to success on the battlefield. It subsequently identified the most effective fitness test events to assess those components of combat fitness. In addition to the Army’s studies, military fitness leaders from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Netherlands and many other fitness experts from civilian universities and centers were consulted along with the Department of Physical Education, U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, the U.S. Army Public Health Center and the Army Physical Fitness School.
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Old 10-08-2019, 06:49 PM
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I don’t believe them. Or at least I don’t believe they applied the kind of rigor necessary to it, particularly when distinguishing between what it takes to be combat-ready as an infantryman vs what it takes to be combat-ready as a vehicle mechanic. Maybe a better way of putting it is, I think the Army (and the military in general) lacks any sort of peer review process, and that very often no one thinks to (or no one is willing to, in the face of a results-oriented style of leadership) challenge the underlying assumptions that go into fairly major personnel programs. A study gets commissioned, results comes out, and that seems to be the end of it, unless some general or undersecretary has their own pet agenda to advance.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:20 AM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
They did that, or at least they said they did:
Nothing in the section you quote says what questions they asked the fitness experts. "What are the physical requirements demanded by the 21st-century battlefield?" will yield very different answers than "What tests most effectively correlate to some particular physical requirement we identified in some previous round?"
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:47 PM
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My wife's 2nd cousin posted about the ACFT on Facebook and it was dizzying just looking at it and all of its events. She's been on active duty for a couple years now but she put herself through college in the reserves and through ROTC and she's a hard charger. I don't know how useful the new PT test will be but I didn't think 2 minutes of pushups, 2 minutes of sit-ups, and a 2 mile run was bad either. At least soldiers will look good now when they all finally get switched over to the pinks and greens.
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Old 10-08-2019, 05:01 PM
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How relevant are these tests to the actual job? Are they

1) meant to enforce "general fitness" or are they
2) testing specific things that these soldiers will need to do in their actual roles or are they
3) leftover from what soldiers needed to do 50 years ago?

Because the right answer to what they should do with this information depends in the answer to that question. If (1), then they probably ought to have separate tests for men and women. Maybe the tests could be based on weight and height rather than on sex. Maybe some tests would be the same for all, some would depend on sex, and some would relate to height or weight.

If (2) then maybe there should be fewer female soldiers. Or maybe they should have different routine tests for different roles.

If (3) they should change the tests, of course. It's silly to test soldiers today based on WWII standards and requirements.
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Old 10-08-2019, 05:13 PM
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If (3) they should change the tests, of course. It's silly to test soldiers today based on WWII standards and requirements.
Why? If anything, soldiers these days carry more stuff around with them than the soldiers of that era, so they'd need to be MORE fit and strong than their great grandfathers.

And it's kind of absurd to expect infantrymen to be these paragons of strength and fitness, and let the rest be out of shape, especially considering that they're all expected to fight when necessary.
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Old 10-08-2019, 05:22 PM
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Why? If anything, soldiers these days carry more stuff around with them than the soldiers of that era, so they'd need to be MORE fit and strong than their great grandfathers.

And it's kind of absurd to expect infantrymen to be these paragons of strength and fitness, and let the rest be out of shape, especially considering that they're all expected to fight when necessary.
A dumb man once said you fight a war with the army you have, not the army you need or might want. If I were fighting a war, I'd rather have a few doughy infantrymen than have an Army that's hot shit at exercising across all career fields but I lost 20% of my best people in everything but infantry.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:48 AM
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A dumb man once said you fight a war with the army you have, not the army you need or might want. If I were fighting a war, I'd rather have a few doughy infantrymen than have an Army that's hot shit at exercising across all career fields but I lost 20% of my best people in everything but infantry.
That wasn't what I was getting at; my point was that infantrymen generally have to be in excellent shape just to do their jobs well. I don't know, but I'd be willing to bet that the pass rate on the ACFT was highest among enlisted infantrymen, just by virtue of their jobs.

The issue is whether some Spec-4 clerk at battalion level needs to be that level of fit or not. Apparently the Army thinks they do. I'm guessing because of a combination of experience in Iraq/Afghanistan where lots of troops were doing foot patrols despite not actually being infantrymen and they probably identified some kind of fitness deficiencies that caused problems. It may be as simple as less fit troops became casualties more often, or it may be more complicated than that.

And seriously.. have you read the tests and the criteria? ANY twenty-something person who is in good shape ought to be able to handle passing that test without a problem, or should be able to get in that kind of shape without too much issue.

I wonder if there are age-related or injury-related dispensations; some of those things might not be hard for a 22 year old former high school athlete, but they might be pretty tough for a 55 year old Master Sergeant, or a 35 year old Major who busted up his knee. That would be my concern- that they're going to penalize the older soldiers and potentially lose that experience because of aging or service-related injuries.
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:11 AM
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If (3) they should change the tests, of course. It's silly to test soldiers today based on WWII standards and requirements.
50 years ago was Vietnam not WW2.

As an aside I read that between the time of Gustav Adolph and the Korean War the weight carried by a soldier did not increase much, but since than has grown exponentially.
Physical fitness needs have never been higher.

The FB post does seem to have other motivations, specifically “no women in the Army”.
Which isn’t really germane to the issue of physical fitness requirements.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:06 AM
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50 years ago was Vietnam not WW2.
50 years ago was Vietnam, and a military so strapped for people they were drafting men who couldn't read, couldn't remember basic orders, couldn't tie their shoes, couldn't maintain their rifle to serve as infantrymen.

Do you think I'm joking? Does anyone in this thread think I'm saying something which is incorrect? Wikipedia has a basic summary but the go-to work is McNamara's Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War by Hamilton Gregory, who cites many more sources.

My point is that the military will feed. The military will get as many bodies as it thinks it needs. Saying there are people currently in who don't pass a high bar is quite rich given the kinds of people the military will consume without so much as burping once things get going. You can set the standards anywhere you want and the people running things will game them in order to fill quotas.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:34 AM
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50 years ago was Vietnam, and a military so strapped for people they were drafting men who couldn't read, couldn't remember basic orders, couldn't tie their shoes, couldn't maintain their rifle to serve as infantrymen.

Do you think I'm joking? Does anyone in this thread think I'm saying something which is incorrect? Wikipedia has a basic summary but the go-to work is McNamara's Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War by Hamilton Gregory, who cites many more sources.

My point is that the military will feed. The military will get as many bodies as it thinks it needs. Saying there are people currently in who don't pass a high bar is quite rich given the kinds of people the military will consume without so much as burping once things get going. You can set the standards anywhere you want and the people running things will game them in order to fill quotas.

Really no kidding. Gosh no one had ever thought that wartime militaries end up lowering recruiting standards, officially and or tacitly. What an astutre and original observation.



Except that is not the point. The point is that exprience has show that peacetime assessments of what a particular military job will entail rarely match actual wartime outcomes.

Lots of ostensibly "rear"and "non combat" troops have found themselves in contact with the enemy, on occassions with some regularity. Not only true in counter insurgency operations in Iraq or Afghanistan but has also occured in conventional peer versus peer battles, see Korea but also WW2 (one of the main actions in the early days of the Battle of the Bulge was supply troops having to hold off the Germans long enough to destroy fuel and supply depots which the Germans were trying to (and needed) to capture).
So the brass may well be thinking well if there is a good possibility they will have to fight like infantrymen on occasssion, may as well be as fit as we require them to be.

Last edited by AK84; 10-09-2019 at 03:34 AM.
  #36  
Old 10-09-2019, 03:58 AM
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Really no kidding. Gosh no one had ever thought that wartime militaries end up lowering recruiting standards, officially and or tacitly. What an astutre and original observation.

So you admit that when things get to the point of actually needing a lot of people to use this stuff, the military will be accepting people regardless of ability.

Note that I didn't say "lowered standards", I said "read the freaking cite and see that standards were in goddamned freefall" which, incidentally, makes an absolute mockery of this thread.
  #37  
Old 10-08-2019, 05:15 PM
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30% of the men failed and will have their military careers ruined?
  #38  
Old 10-08-2019, 05:24 PM
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30% of the men failed and will have their military careers ruined?
That's pretty much how it goes now, but it's worth noting that you don't get kicked out from a single fitness failure, and most people are able to pull it together and pass. A 30% failure rate (which is probably typical) does not result in a 30% separation rate. Maybe 5% after all the chips fall.

It remains to be seen what that 84% failure rate would do for retention.
  #39  
Old 10-09-2019, 02:01 AM
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I am guessing the US military is still shell shocked from the Iraq experience of the last decade when the shortage of troops meant that even non fighting arm types were pulling patrol duty?
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:09 AM
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I’m not sure what you mean by that. Do you mean you think that service and support troops are less likely to find themselves embroiled in occasional ground combat in future wars? If so, I don’t think that will necessarily hold true. If there is an occupation (or even just an enduring presence, as we have now in Iraq), there will be an insurgency. If there is an insurgency, there will be traditionally "non-combat" troops exposed to combat.
  #41  
Old 10-09-2019, 06:52 AM
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source

What should the Army do about this? Should they go back to different standards for (realizing I might be stepping into a quagmire with this next word, but unsure how else to phrase it) each gender? Should the test be changed? The event the women seem to be struggling the most with is the "leg tuck". The Army's website describes it like this:



Are things like "the strength of the Soldiers grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles" rightfully important to the Army and this is just a bad way of measuring them? Is there a way to measure "the strength of the Soldiers grip, arm, shoulder and trunk muscles" that would be more favorable to female soldiers? Or should the Army be working on ways to fight a war that don't involve soldiers carrying loads and / or injuring their backs?
I see no need to change the test. The objective is equality of opportunity. I would expect fewer female police officers, firefighters and other jobs where physical upper body strength is important as well. I wouldn't expect none.

(There seems to be fewer female firefighters than expected, even with fair tests, which makes me think there's still a lot of sexism there.)

I am surprised the "leg tuck" is what is causing the problems, but I am noting that the statistics are not currently reliable.

Soldiers are always carrying too much weight, but I don't think that's a gender issue.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:50 PM
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Out of curiosity, how does the ACFT compare to say... the USMC fitness standards? Is it notably tougher? If not, I would question why there's such an outcry about the Army initiating such a test when the USMC already has similar standards.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:04 PM
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Out of curiosity, how does the ACFT compare to say... the USMC fitness standards? Is it notably tougher? If not, I would question why there's such an outcry about the Army initiating such a test when the USMC already has similar standards.
Well the USMC has gender-based requirements still, so.... the ACFT is remarkably different.
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Old 10-09-2019, 04:21 PM
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I think the old Army APFT was just fine as it was.

The problem is (as I saw it) was that there was a lot of complaining from people who misunderstood to be an ability test - (i.e. I need 42 pushups to pass, but the women only need 12, boo hoo, so unfair).

What the Army should have done, instead of attempting to make it gender neutral, was to explain that it was not an ability test, it was a fitness test. It reflects the effort that you invest to maximize physical conditioning, with the side effect of reflecting motivation and pride.

With that understanding, it's perfectly fine to have gender disparities in fitness standards. Whenever there are real, consequential differences in objective ability, various skill qualifications and training courses should take care of that. i.e. Ranger school is not about doing pushups, it's about doing complicated tasks and walking around a lot with very little food or sleep for a few months.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:27 PM
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What the Army should have done, instead of attempting to make it gender neutral, was to explain that it was not an ability test, it was a fitness test. It reflects the effort that you invest to maximize physical conditioning, with the side effect of reflecting motivation and pride.

With that understanding, it's perfectly fine to have gender disparities in fitness standards. Whenever there are real, consequential differences in objective ability, various skill qualifications and training courses should take care of that. i.e. Ranger school is not about doing pushups, it's about doing complicated tasks and walking around a lot with very little food or sleep for a few months.
Agreed -- the baseline of the general test should be about the troops maintaining high fitness, which is not necessarily identical-looking for any two human bodies even of the same gender. Then you move on to testing for what are the requirements for task performance. The rub, of course, is that in an organization like the Army you have to have some sort of standardized test and doing standardized testing right is a pain and sometimes it just can't be fine-tuned enough.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:13 PM
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What should happen is that the Army decides just what a soldier needs to be able to do, devises a test that accurately reflects those needed abilities, applies that test in a gender-blind way, and accepts anyone (of either gender) who passes the test. If physical strength is something that a soldier actually needs, then this process is likely to accept a higher proportion of men than women.

Is this what actually happened? I'm not in a position to know. But if what the Army did is worthy of criticism (note the "if"), then it should be on the grounds that the test doesn't accurately reflect what a soldier actually needs. It shouldn't be criticized based on the outcomes.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:26 PM
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What should happen is that the Army decides just what a soldier needs to be able to do, devises a test that accurately reflects those needed abilities, applies that test in a gender-blind way, and accepts anyone (of either gender) who passes the test. If physical strength is something that a soldier actually needs, then this process is likely to accept a higher proportion of men than women.

Is this what actually happened? I'm not in a position to know. But if what the Army did is worthy of criticism (note the "if"), then it should be on the grounds that the test doesn't accurately reflect what a soldier actually needs. It shouldn't be criticized based on the outcomes.
You won't find this written anywhere, but the real reason behind all current fitness tests is to make sure the service isn't filled up with a bunch of overweight fleabags who get winded doing basic tasks, like a lot of police departments are. Army leadership wants Joe and Jane Soldier to look decent in a uniform, generally take care of their bodies, and stay healthy. This is, of course, a subjective standard, and prior to fitness tests it was handled at the lowest level possible -- Private Pyle wasn't being harassed about his weight by some nameless test, remember.

Any attempt to codify those mushy requirements is bound to make some people unhappy, and others will still argue that they should be allowed to be doughy fleabags if they're in a non-combat role. But what you're describing excludes this goal entirely. It's perfectly reasonable to expect people to meet some arbitrary definition of "fit" while not expecting 40 year old women to be as strong as 20 year old men.
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:01 AM
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What should happen is that the Army decides just what a soldier needs to be able to do, devises a test that accurately reflects those needed abilities, applies that test in a gender-blind way, and accepts anyone (of either gender) who passes the test. If physical strength is something that a soldier actually needs, then this process is likely to accept a higher proportion of men than women.

Is this what actually happened? I'm not in a position to know. But if what the Army did is worthy of criticism (note the "if"), then it should be on the grounds that the test doesn't accurately reflect what a soldier actually needs. It shouldn't be criticized based on the outcomes.
Yes, that's exactly what happened. They've spent several years developing this test and refining the scoring criteria.

Also, it's important to point out to everyone talking about infantry vs. office staff, etc. that the passing scores are different for different jobs.
So, while the test is the same, an infantryman is required to score higher in each event in order to pass. They've done away with age and gender based scoring standards and have changed to standards based solely on occupational specialty.

Last edited by Bear_Nenno; 10-10-2019 at 03:02 AM.
  #49  
Old 10-09-2019, 01:31 PM
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Who cares??? We have no natural enemies and if Fatty McFattison wants to die of a heart attack in Afghanistan....go right ahead. I don't care if our army is 100,00 elite "Starship Troopers" with 130 IQ each or 10,000,000 schlubs.
  #50  
Old 10-09-2019, 02:37 PM
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Terrible test. Way too many subjective judgments. “Must remain relatively vertical” “a minimum of swinging or kipping” (whatever that means)

There is no way for a commanding officer to judge the performance without bias creeping in. Even if the test was gender neutral, the subjective nature makes it impossible to know.
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