Passing the New ACFT Can Lift Flags from Failing the Army's Old Fitness Test

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Sprint-drag-carry event of the Army Combat Fitness Test.
Sgt. 1st Class Denise Hruschka completes the sprint-drag-carry event of the Army Combat Fitness Test on July 22, 2021, Fort Carson, Colorado. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Woodlyne Escarne)

The Army's old fitness test edged closer to termination after the service on Monday said in a memo reviewed by Military.com to the force that soldiers flagged for a failed assessment can lift it by passing its new test.

The service has been beta-testing the Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT, since June 2020, moving away from the three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, or APFT, which had been the standard for measuring whether soldiers were fit for duty for 40 years.

Failing a physical fitness test can severely damage soldiers' careers, putting a so-called "flag" on their records. It's one of the most consequential blemishes on a record, short of committing a crime, and can prevent them from being promoted, forbid attendance at critical schools, strip them of certain benefits and possibly lead to being removed from the Army.

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While a soldier's performance on the ACFT cannot officially be added to their record yet, simply passing it can now lift a flag from failing the APFT -- a test which the force largely has not conducted since before the pandemic. This is the only policy so far that has allowed performance on the ACFT to be used for administrative purposes.

Soldiers may also take another APFT to lift their flag.

There is also an option for specialists, corporals and sergeants to take the old test for administrative purposes if they don't have a test on record. That provision probably doesn't affect many soldiers, so the APFT is unlikely to be administered anymore except for limited, outlier situations.

"We're gonna stamp out the APFT, we're gonna do it," Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, the service's top enlisted leader, said at a town hall in March. "It's going. It's done, it's over. We made it."

The ACFT's rules and standards were finalized in March, and scores will start impacting active-duty soldiers' careers in October. Part-time soldiers in the National Guard and Reserve will start taking the test for record in April 2023. However, troops wanting to get a jump on the test can reserve passing scores achieved now to be placed into their record once the ACFT goes live.

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

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