Responding to criticism from some female troops and Congress, the Army has altered its latest fitness test, officials said Monday.
Since 1980, all active-duty soldiers have been required to take a test that measures their ability to do situps, push-ups and a two-mile run. In recent years, the Army realized that soldiers lacked the upper body strength for many combat-related tasks, and that many were injuring themselves because they were not fit enough even in training. It introduced a new test with several different exercises, and also sought to take gender out of the scoring equation.
However, fearing that the new standards were too difficult, Congress mandated that the test not be used for promotions and other official capacities, and called for more research and data collection.
One component of the test caused particular angst: a leg tuck in which soldiers were required to hang from a bar and tuck their legs to their chest. Soldiers will now be able to choose, without penalty, between a leg tuck and a plank to test core strength, officials announced Monday.
“Army senior leaders are listening to what our soldiers are saying,” said Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, the commanding general for the United States Army Center for Initial Military Training.
The Army is also considering a new evaluation system with five categories — green, bronze, silver, gold and platinum — that might rank soldiers’ performances against others of their own gender, a nod to the competitive nature of fitness testing that prevails in Army culture.
For now, test performance will not be used administratively. The Army is aiming to use the test for passing and promotion purposes in March 2022 but will need more data before moving forward, officials said.