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Higher fitness standards will prepare soldiers for real-world problems


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Killing with kindness, it seems...

Higher fitness standards will prepare soldiers for real-world problems​

There is a concept called “bulldozer parenting” that refers to parents who knock down every obstacle for their children before they get a chance to struggle. While this is meant to protect their children from short-term harm, psychology lecturer Rachael Sharman observed it “ultimately results in a psychologically fragile child, fearful and avoidant of failure, with never-learned coping strategies and poor resilience.”

These same good intentions can lead to senior leadership “bulldozer parenting” our soldiers, and the troubled Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) implementation is an example of that.

The legacy Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) was designed based on a Cold War era assumption that ground combat was a thing of the past, an illusion that left many soldiers physically unprepared for what they faced during the Global War on Terror. The initial version of the ACFT, to address lessons learned in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, represented a significant challenge for the force.

Predictably, the raised expectations were met with an initial wave of failures. Despite leg tucks being in training doctrine for over a decade, initial ACFT trials showed that 60% of women and 8% of men failed to complete one repetition. Army data later revealed that seven months into the ACFT implementation these failure rates had dropped to 22% of women and 2% of men. That same data also indicated that soldiers failed the run at an even higher rate, 22% of women and 5% of men, despite the passing standard getting easier compared to the APFT for most demographics.

One way to fix this would have been to give soldiers time and resources to rise to the challenge. Instead, under significant political pressure, the Army chose to remove the leg tuck, and to rewrite score charts to guarantee most soldiers passed.

If the test was introduced to address deficiencies in fitness, how is it acceptable to base the standards on current performance? The Army introduced more relevant components of fitness, and then it promptly bulldozed those standards to save soldiers from struggling.

Higher fitness standards will prepare soldiers for real-world problems (armytimes.com)