Like many companies and employers, the MoD’s objectives and requirements have evolved over time. The nature of military operations are vastly different to what they once were and many close combat infantry roles, once shut to women, are now open.
One of the most significant changes the British Army has made is to its mandated physical fitness standards and requirements which are incorporated into a suite of Army Role Fitness Tests, progressing from civilian entry through to Field Army employment roles.
They are designed to reflect the situations a soldier may face on a battlefield which could include a march into battle, a fight through enemy positions, extraction of casualties and a need to replenish stores and equipment and with correct training, aim to reduce the risk of Muscular Skeletal injuries.
What Are The Physical Employment Standards (PES)?
The Army’s new physical fitness standards requirements are now called Physical Employment Standards (PES), are role-related and no longer gender or age specific. The two categories are;
- Ground Close Combat (GCC)
- Non-Ground Close Combat (Non-GCC)
Who Will The Changes Affect?
The new standards affect entry tests for prospective Soldiers and Officers applying to join the Army and serving Regular and Reserve personnel. New standards are also in place for those who have reached the end of Basic Training, prior to commencing Initial Trade Training (ITT).
How Do They Differ From Previous Army Fitness Tests?
Previous military fitness assessments were two-fold and included an Annual Fitness Test (AFT)/Combat Fitness Test (CFT) and a Personal Fitness Assessment (PFA). They included:
- AFT/CFT (otherwise known as a Tactical Advance into Battle (TAB)) is a weighted, loaded and timed march wearing uniform and carrying a weapon. Weight requirement differed between Corps (15-25kg) and distance varied between Regular/Reserve/GCC/Non-GCC personnel (6-8 miles).
- PFA -two minutes best effort of press-ups and sit-ups, followed by a timed test of a 1.5 mile run (in trainers) which were both gender and age specific. Regular personnel would need to complete this twice a year and annually for Reserves.
What Is The New PFA?
The PFA is now known as the Soldier Conditioning Review (SCR) and is made up of six elements:
- Horizontal jump (lower limb explosive power)
- Med ball throw (explosive upper body power)
- Deadlift (lower limb strength)
- Shuttle sprints (lower body explosive power/anaerobic capacity)
- Heaves (upper body strength)
- 2 km run (aerobic capacity) Can also be done as a multi-stage fitness test or on Wattbike as an Alternative Aerobic Assessment.
How Long Will It Take?
It is thought that it will take approximately 1.5 hrs for a group of 50 to get through all the exercises.
How Will It Be Marked?
Personnel will be marked 1-15 for each element and will receive an overall score based on a amber/green/red system.
Is Tt Pass/Fail?
The SCR is currently in its review period and so technically there isn’t a pass/fail element as yet.
What Is The New AFT?
For GCC PERSONNEL the Role Fitness Soldier (RFT(S)) replaces the AFT and includes 6 elements.
- 4km loaded march with 40kg within 50mins followed by 2km with 25kg in 15 mins (Infantry/RAC). The times allowed for 16 AAB/Paras are shortened to 35mins and 12.30mins respectively.
- Fire and movement tactical bounds, followed by crawl and sprint
- Casualty drag (110kg bag)
- Water can carry (simulates stretcher carry with 2 x 22kg cans)
- Vehicle casevac (70kg lift)
- Repeated lift & carry (20kg bags over distance)
What About Non-GCC Roles?
RFTs for Non GCC roles are to be rolled out between 2021-22.
What About The Army Reserve?
For GCC units, RFT (S) Interim is replacing the current Reserves AFT and includes 3 elements of the RFT (S).
- Loaded march (see above)
- Fire and movement (see above)
- Water can carry (see above)
Non-GCC Reserve units will carry out a 6 mile AFT until the exact details of the Role Fitness Test are decided.
Personnel must pass this test as part of MATT 2 in order to gain their annual Certificate of Efficiency, enabling them to receive their annual tax-free bounty.
Reservists who deploy or attend career courses will be expected to pass the Regular RFT(S) if appropriate for role.
What Are The Entry Standards For Recruits Called?
They are called Role Fitness Test (Entry) (RFT(E))
What are (RFT(E))?
There are three physical standards designed to test aerobic, upper and lower body capacity and strength that will be assessed during the military application process. These are;
- 2km run (1.2 mile) takes place after a 800m (0.5 mile) warm up ( lowest adult soldier entry standard is no less than 11.15 minutes).
- Seated medicine ball throw (4kg) with a minimum standard of 2.9m distance.
- Mid-thigh pull (deadlift using a machine) with a minimum standard of 46 units.
What Are The Entry Standards To Join As An Officer?
Prospective Officers will need to complete a Multistage Fitness Test (Beep test) with a minimum of level 8.7, medicine ball throw, mid-thigh pull and an obstacle course.
What Are The Fitness Test Standards At The End Of Basic Training?
The Role Fitness Test (Basic Training) (RFT(BT)) will be used at the end of Basic Training to ensure personnel are at the required levels of fitness before going onto Initial Trade Training (ITT).
When Will They Come Into Effect?
PES for GCC roles came into effect earlier this year (April 19). GCC roles include the Infantry and the Royal Armoured Corps.
PES for Non-GCC roles will be implemented across 2021-22. Personnel in this category will continue meeting the standards for the current Annual Fitness Test (6 miles for both Regular and Reserve).
What About Body Mass Index (BMI)?
To join the Army (over 18) you will need a BMI between 18-28 and for those under the age of 18 it’s between 28-30.
Males (over 18) may still be considered following additional assessments between the range 28-32 or females (under 18) within the range of 28-30.
Cover image credit: Peter Davies, Crown Copyright