Problems with the Proposed Army Combat Readiness Test

March 16, 2014

A couple years back, the internet and the Army Times were buzzing with rumor about the new Army Combat Readiness Test (ACRT). From Outside the Beltway:

“A new annual “combat readiness” test includes running 400 meters — about a quarter of a mile — with a rifle, moving through an obstacle course in full combat gear, and crawling and vaulting over obstacles while aiming a rifle. Soldiers also will have to run on a balance beam while carrying 30-pound ammo boxes and do an agility sprint around a course field of cones.

Soldiers also will have to drag sleds weighted with sandbags to test their ability to pull a fallen comrade from the battlefield.”

But, the test never materialized and General Raymond Odierno rejected it. So, what happened?

Well, the desire to create a gender neutral functional test for combat arms MOSs is one thing that quashed the ACRT, but another possible issue is the logistics of administering such a test to the 1.1 million Soldiers in the US Army. While large Army installations would likely have no issue building new obstacle courses for this yearly test, Soldiers assigned to joint bases or detailed to locations far from any military base, such as recruiting stations, would likely have difficulty finding space to conduct this test.

The other issue is financial. The new test would require the purchase of new equipment, such as the obstacles, balance beams, cones, and drag sleds. Again, this makes sense for large Army installations. If you’ve got 30,000 Soldiers assigned to your base, like Fort Bragg, the construction of a simple obstacle course that can be shared by multiple units isn’t a big expense. But, if you’re a small US Army Reserve or National Guard unit in the middle of nowhere, coming up with the funds for this can be an issue.

Hopefully whatever new test the US Army comes up with takes into consideration the needs of units that don’t have the support of a nearby Army base.

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