Leadership on the Objective: Curbing The Long Post-APFT Slide

Leaders,

Let’s fix this!

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18 thoughts on “Leadership on the Objective: Curbing The Long Post-APFT Slide

  1. This is the first time I’ve done a blog post sir, but you’ve touched on a hot button issue of mine.
    I just hit the “peak” you mentioned, with a “whew!” You won’t see me running again until July 2011, to start my 3-month climb back to that same peak.

    That said, our traditional Soldiers (I am full-time) are at a HUGE disadvantage when it comes to PT. If I get hurt while doing PT, I have my full-time insurance to cover it. A traditional Soldier must go to their personal insurance.

    I am blessed to have the opportunity to work out on company time, not taking time away from my Family life to work out. Traditional Soldiers are expected to find time to work out on their personal time, oftentimes, this is after long hours at a difficult job. And this is on top of Family and other personal commitments.

    Traditional Soldiers are expected to meet the same standards, with significantly less resources.
    I’d like to think about applying resources to our traditional Soldiers/Airmen to ensure they are on the same playing field as their full-time counterparts.

    Why hasn’t the emphasis on the testing changed, since we still deploy PT failures to war? And we don’t require a PT passing to finish military schooling.

    Finally, I must add, I do maintain a workout program in my non-PT months, it just includes walking, yoga, aerobics.

    With Respect, MAJ Tammy Spicer, commander, 70th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and state public affairs officer

  2. Well I am not a fitness expert by any means but I know that I was not happy about the pass rates for the company. So we had everyone take a APFT every month as a diagnostic(unless they had a 270). The results was that I had over 90% pass rates after about 4 months. So doing a APFT once a year is not enough. The only way we will get troops to take it seriously is to make sure that you put emphasis on it.

  3. With all do respect to the way the army has run for the past 200 + years.
    Howsabout if you cant pass the PT test; then be put aside to a unit that will never require you to be in the feild where the need to carry your buddy will arise.
    Start taking hard action to failure and watch the cream rise to the top. HOORAA

  4. I wonder, sir, if one contribution to this problem is the simple timing of when we conduct our APFTs. Traditional units conduct annual APFTs every October which is quickly followed Thanksgiving, Christmas and bitter Missouri winters. Any Soldier who passes in October can easily convince themselves it’s easy to pack it in for the winter and start up again when it gets warmer. Were it not for EPS implications, I would suggest a better time would be May.

    It certainly is a disservice to our Traditional Soldiers to have just one record APFT. One record APFT equals just one opportunity to improve your score over last year, just one day out of 365 to focus your energy, just one chance to overexert yourself, pull a hamstring and start an LOD. Twice a year is not excessive but it will keep you in check and remind you that slacking off has consequences.

  5. In the ‘Bolstering Strengths’ module of one of the Resilience classes at the RTI, we made a point by asking how many do PT “only because of the PT test”
    (most) vs “exercising/moving to get the STRESS out” (few). Point being, folks who do something physical each day because they want to–it feels good,
    releases endorphins–will stick with it, because of the accumulation of benefits (better sleep, less stress, mental clarity, stamina, weight maintenance or loss, etc) they will inevitably experience.

    At one point in an inconsistent workout period, my (free) Military One Source Health Coach challenged me to commit to just exercising 5 minutes a day, every
    day–because a habit takes 3 weeks to galvanize. Psychologically, once we lace up, get out and go, we’ll inevitably do a longer session. The challenge
    is inertia. The required mindset is like brushing one’s teeth. ‘Gotta do that every day. Can’t put it off for a week, ‘gotta fit it in.

    We’ve been ‘beat up’ for entire careers to do PT, so with some, there’s this wall of inertia, reluctance & dread that builds up–to the point of retirees swearing they’ll never do PT again (to their health detriment). Spinning it into the idea that I ‘get to’ make my health a bigger priority, I ‘get to’ de-stress, I ‘get to’ have some “me time” (and not feel guilty about it!) is important, and that’s the track we’ve been on in MONG for a year.

    We have two huge resources about which info will be coming out in the Oct Bear Facts: free MOS Health Coaching, and online Army MOVE! instruction by Active Duty Registered Dieticians. For more info, contact the State Fitness Coordinator, CW4 Rodney Hughes, at (573) 638-9605.

    The Unit Fitness & Resiliency Coordinator can assist their weight-or-PT-challenged troops with getting enrolled (in both) as a way to keep progressing toward their goals [just recently, MOS began offering Health Coaching via their “You Can Quit” smoking cessation program, and “I Can Achieve” weight management for Teens program].

    Progress toward meeting the standard is what we all need to focus on, to enable quality Soldiers to get it done.

  6. I do not know of any organizational post-APFT fitness guidance, especially for those who have passed the APFT. Some units choose to require their APFT failures to conduct a diagnostic APFT every drill to track their progress toward passing the record APFT within 180 days of their failure. Some units recognize those Soldiers who have not only achieved 270 or better, but also those who have shown the most improvement since their last APFT. I have observed active duty units place a much larger focus on PT than we do in the National Guard workforce. The full-time policy is to allow PT when it does not interfere with mission accomplishment, while our active component brothers and sisters do not even start their duty day until completion of PT (unless the units are not in the garrison environment). Our MDay Soldiers receive even less of an opportunity. While each armory differs in its physical fitness resources, not every home contains a fitness center. Some MDay Soldiers are not able to afford that $50 or so a month for a gym membership where they can exercise throughout the year. We can offer the MDay Soldiers the ability to come into the armories to utilize the fitness machines and eliminate the need for them to join a gym; however, this may require input from the SJA as this could potentially lead to line of duty issues. Missouri winters are not conducive to conducting the APFT twice a year without resources where the Soldiers can train throughout the year. The full-time unit support personnel are able to utilize the fitness equipment in the armories to conduct PT throughout the year, but the MDay Soldiers may not have access to indoor fitness centers. As this is the case, I feel that requiring MDay Soldiers to take the APFT twice a year without providing them the resources allowing them to conduct PT throughout the entire year is preparing the MDay Soldiers for failure, not success.

  7. I appreciate the responses thus far. I’m asking the question about once-a-year APFT because, in experience and in talking with commanders from units deployed right now, low fitness levels of Troops is an ongoing challenge impacting mission accomplishment in theater.

    First, low physical fitness places Soldiers at risk for other negative factors to snowball – weight, health, increased injury risk, lower self esteem, lower confidence in out of shape leaders, relationship issues, etc. All impact negatively on individual mobilization readiness (impact to DMOSQ, inability to attend NCOES/OES, health-related non-qual, etc.).

    Second, hauling around 70 to 75 lbs of combat gear at altitude (6,600′ or more) will break a body, slow response, decrease aimed fire accuracy and jeopardize mission accomplishment in other ways; unless the Troop is physically fit and able to shoulder the load.

    So to clarify, my question is less about APFT pass-rates – which is one of several leading indicators. It is more about physical capacity (health, fitness and confidence) and it’s impact on mission accomplishment. By that, I mean keeping good folks and making them ready to deploy and then enabling them to operate under combat conditions in a tough environment.

    Thoughts?

  8. Sir,
    Again, I feel that the MDay Soldiers within the Missouri Army National Guard are at a disadvantage regarding maintaining a higher level of fitness due to Missouri

  9. We require Soldiers to accomplish a number of tasks in a non-pay status over the course of the 28 days between Sunday’s final formation and Saturday’s first formation… We pay them nothing. We do offer them healthcare at a reduced rate, which is helpful for those who can afford it and can take it. Added to this cost, if the Troop chooses to bear it, we also set the conditions for him/her to obtain high speed internet service so myriad computer-based training modules can be completed in their “free” time (I call it the government’s free time). That’s another $50 to $75 per month (if they can afford it). Now we’re discussing a potential $35 to $75 per month cost to join a gym so they can maintain appropriate fitness levels. Assuming the Soldier shoulders the costs of these unfunded mandates… Let’s see… We’ve got $81 for TriCare Reserve Select and $50 for high speed internet and $35 for gym memberships: 81 + 50 + 35 = $166. Many Soldiers do not itemize their tax deductions, so for those this is a sunk cost for them. I haven’t included SGLI and transportation/lodging costs. I’m sure there are others.

    Pulling AGR Soldiers from the picture, there’s about 333,000 traditional Soldiers in the Army National Guard. These opportunity or sunk costs per Troop add up to $663,336,000 per year.

    Assuming better than 50% of the benefit of high speed internet, health insurance and increased levels of fitness benefit the Soldier as much as they benefit the government… A “service stipend” of $83 per month per traditional Soldier would cost the government $331,668,000 annually.

    A lot of money. That’s just a little over half of the entire annual training pay and allowance budget for the year. Can we afford it? Does the government save a substantial amount money in other sunk or opportunity costs such as increased retention, reduced health care costs, increased readiness, reduced training costs, etc.? Can those cost savings be measured in real dollars?

    There are a lot of questions to be asked and answered, when we go down this route.

    Thoughts?

  10. I wonder if ID card holders can use the gym at Ft. Leonard Wood regardless of component, could they not also use our armory facilities as well? Does the Army assume less liability than the National Guard does?

  11. Along these lines… Dollars aside. Soldiers also must do their own cost-benefit analysis. There’s a valuable intangible associated with membership… The Guard provides a “reason” our high school peers don’t have. That “reason” is valuable because is lines up our priorities and puts us on a path to health and well-being. It is a benefit worth the investment (with regard to fitness, nutrition and overall health… I’m still not sold on computer-based training as much).

  12. Sir, it really boils down to one thing regarding any sort of PT/post-PT results and effects…….each individual Soldier and/or Airman is solely responsible for their own physical training/conditioning. There should be absolutely no difference in expectations between AGR, Technicians or M-Day members of the Missouri Guard regarding their PT tests. Each individual signed up, agreed to put on the uniform and serve his/her country; ONE of the requirements is to maintain an expected level of physical fitness. Barring an injury, there should be NO exceptions. The problem isn’t about insurance, facilities, money, free-time, etc. It’s about the needed commitment to stay physically fit and that is (and has always been) the sole responsibility of each individual Soldier/Airman. We (society, in general) make far too many excuses as to why we can’t achieve something simple………like maintaining good physical health. In all honesty, at the risk of probably losing some good people, if they fail their PT test, they should be re-tested in 60 days; if they fail again, they should be separated/discharged. Every one of us signed that contract and fully understood what is/was expected of us; it’s on US (as individuals) if we fail to meet those expectations.

  13. Perhaps you’re right. It’s about discipline. Methodology is a separate matter we can assist with, but the discipline is dependent upon individual will and desire combined with knowledge the discipline will pay dividends in and out of the service. With the “reason” the Guard supplies, do we extend them proper tools, such as motivation, skills and continuing education? We don’t supply barbers, but we do expect military haircuts. At least we provide a standard…

  14. I think Marsden hit the nail on the head.

    I really like the data CPT Sharrok provided. Sounds like it might work but will cost an hour of training time.

    I believe one method is similar to what LTC Kilmer was talking about. I have several soldiers that work out on a consistant basis with their spouses or a friend. Having this kind of buddy system is an important balence. Usually If you dont feel like working out, your buddy will kick you in the pants and visa-versa. I wonder if we would see any benifit from talking to the spouses/family members about working out with their soldier as a means to improve. Adding to that, maybe we can have our soldiers buddy-team up during the month so they can be accountable to each other.

  15. According to one of the many “free” resources available on the website, one individual defined physical fitness as follows:

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