The Army has for a third time in three years adjusted its combat-driven fitness test to include new scoring tiers for male and female soldiers meant to acknowledge their “biological differences,” top service officials announced.
The Army will begin testing its soldiers on the Army Combat Fitness Test version 3.0 in April, Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Michael Grinston told reporters. The test’s new version will include new gender-based performance scoring tiers and the permanent implementation of the plank as an option for the six-event test.
The changes come as Army officials work to alleviate concerns raised by lawmakers that past versions of the ACFT were unfair to women, who posted a sub-50% pass rate of the Crossfit-style evaluation. In January, Congress halted the Army from fully implementing the ACFT until it was adjusted and studied by an independent group to ensure it did not favor men.
The new scoring system has not been finalized, but planning calls for the creation of five performance tiers for each gender, said Army Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, who leads the Army Center of Initial Military Training, which has spearheaded ACFT efforts.
The revised test would create a platinum tier for soldiers who scored within the top 1% of their gender on the ACFT. It also creates a gold tier for those scoring in the top 10% of their gender, a silver tier for those scoring in the top 25%, a bronze tier for those scoring within the top 50% and a green tier for those who score in the bottom 50% among passing grades within their gender.
A soldier’s performance tier would then be included on evaluations and reported to boards to inform promotion decisions, instead of just a soldier’s actual ACFT score.
“This new (tiered) evaluation system has a goal of achieving two objectives,” Hibbard said. “First, it recognizes above average physical performance — something that’s inherent to the Army’s culture. And, second, it accounts for the recognized physiological differences between men and women and removes the direct competition between males and females.”
The scoring system for the test will not change, Hibbard said. All soldiers, regardless of age or gender, must score a minimum of 360 out of a possible 600 points — 100 points per event — to pass the test, which in the future will be a requirement to enter and remain in the Army.
For now, scores do not count for or against soldiers, as the Army is using its ACFT testing primarily to gather data to adjust its scoring system. But Hibbard and Grinston said the service aims to re-introduce the testing as a requirement by March of next year.