Army Having Second Thoughts About Gender-Neutral Fitness Test

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The U.S. Army is reportedly considering changes to the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) three years after announcing a new “gender-neutral” scoring system.

The new test would score soldiers on a service-wide percentile basis that is separated by gender, according to Task & Purpose. “We had this big thing of inclusion but this is one of the biggest eyesores that goes against inclusion,” an anonymous Army official reportedly told Task & Purpose.

Slides obtained by Task & Purpose outline potential changes to the ACFT that the Army would implement in their “ACFT 3.0.” Congress ordered the army to stop performing the ACFT as part of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act until a study could be completed to observe how it affects soldiers.

“We know there is a physiological difference between men and women,” one slide obtained by Task & Purpose read. “The Army has to account for this and remove the competition between genders or Congress will never allow ACFT implementation.” (RELATED: TALCOTT: The Transgender Athlete Debate Forces Us To Make A Choice. Both Are Unfair)

Preliminary scores showed a wide gap between men’s and women’s scores on the ACFT in 2019, according to the Army Times. The ACFT was supposed to become the official test of record in the service in Oct. 2020, but the official implementation was pushed back due to COVID-19, Task & Purpose reported.

One of the slides outlining the ACFT 3.0 reportedly says it will “address the congressional and action groups concerns over gender differences and the pass rate of the leg tuck.” In November, the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) wrote to Congress asking for more study of the ACFT.

There are still other problems that need to be addressed though, retired Navy captain and SWAN director of government affairs Lory Manning told Task & Purpose. (RELATED: The Inside Story Of How The Army Reduced Standards To Get Women Through Ranger Training)

“When you’re coming up with gender-neutral standards, if there are men or women for instance — or by age, or whatever groups of people who are currently doing the job satisfactorily — who can’t pass the standards, who can’t meet the standards, then there’s something wrong with the standards,” she said. “Why don’t they just go start from the beginning and validate things properly?”