DVIDS – News – Super Soldiers! Army Combat Fitness Test team primes Alaska Guardsmen for physical fitness excellence


JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The year is 2020 and with each new month comes a plethora of changes for civilian and military personnel alike. Policies and regulations fresh off the press come with the morning cup of coffee and Soldiers across the country adjust and adapt to meet their mission. Despite this ever-changing landscape, Soldiers can look to one steadfast constant: the Army’s standards for superior combat readiness.

True to the year’s theme, this autumn brings yet another development. This season, Soldiers of the Alaska Army National Guard will find themselves in the first testing cycle of the Army’s newest method for evaluating a Soldier’s combat capability, the Army Combat Fitness Test. For this transition, Soldiers depend on the Alaska Army National Guard’s own Army Combat Fitness Test team, led by Capt. Jessica Miller, the ACFT coordinator. The ACFT team has a total of five members, each with a range of experience in health and fitness. Following in suit, Miller is a registered nurse and Master Fitness Trainer course alum.

“The ACFT is very different from the APFT,” said Miller, referring to the Army Physical Fitness Test which has been completely phased out as of Sept. 30. “Everything from the surface requirements to the equipment involved, the ACFT is a more physically challenging test.”

In an effort to transform the Army’s fitness culture, the ACFT incorporates movements and exercises a Soldier would apply while out in the field. Soldiers will find themselves contending with challenging new tests such as the sprint-drag-carry and standing power throw hand release. The ACFT team has been facilitating and assisting Soldiers for over a year in training for the heightened standards.

“Alaska is unique in that we have several units spread all over the state, many of which are not accessible by road,” Miller explained, “and our team has strategized how to best implement this test to maximize efficiency. Although we’ve made decisions, like identifying testing locations and future construction plans, this test is still evolving and we have to be flexible.”

Instituting changes during the COVID-19 climate has presented the team with some significant obstacles. Training facilities, fitness equipment and education were needed to ensure a successful testing season.

“COVID-19 has brought unique challenges and it has affected almost every aspect of the ACFT implementation,” said Miller. “Safety is of the utmost importance and we have been very thoughtful about how to best ensure our Soldiers are prepared.”

To meet social distancing guidelines, the team organized virtual meetings and workout sessions for Soldiers stationed in the eight locations throughout the state that received the equipment and training required to meet the testing criteria.

State Command Sgt. Maj. James Nyquist, a regular participant in ACFT training, witnessed for himself the team’s efforts to ensure the test’s execution was in accordance with the Army’s new standards for “building physical lethality and mental toughness.”

“The ACFT team has done an outstanding job in facilitating and taking on the projects related to the test,” said Nyquist.

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P&G’s sanitizing spray to combat coronavirus wins EPA approval

In a time when the nation is racing to disinfect their homes, a new sanitizing product has won approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its ability to kill the novel coronavirus in 60 seconds.

Proctor and Gamble’s (P&G) Microban 24 Sanitizing Spray has won approval from the EPA, the consumer goods giant announced on Monday.

Microban 24 Sanitizing Spray is approved as effective at killing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (Photo: Business Wire)

Mircoban was first released in February before the coronavirus crisis was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March. However, the product had been in development for more than two years prior to its release, Kevin Wenzel, vice president of P&G’s North American Surface Care Design & Delivery unit, told FOX Business in a statement.

“Our goal was not to compete with other products but to provide something with a new benefit that will grow the category,” he said. “We know that consumers are more focused on keeping their homes sanitized in 2020 than they’ve ever been before, and that’s why we were thrilled to be able to introduce this remarkable 24-hour bacteria shield technology into a category that hadn’t seen a true breakthrough innovation in several decades. The EPA approval of Microban 24 Sanitizing Spray to kill the virus that causes COVID-19 brings trust to a young product.”

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But as “Americans shifted from their standard sanitizing routine to one focused on protecting their homes against the COVID-19 virus,” said Martin Hettich, SVP North America Home Care, P&G, in a statement, “Procter & Gamble has been diligently working with scientists and health experts to ensure that Microban 24 Sanitizing Spray provides the effectiveness against the COVID-19 virus that people need.”

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For a product to claim it can kill a specific pathogen, or SARS-CoV-2 in this instance, the EPA “must conduct a data review and provide approval,” the company said in a news release, noting that Mircoban “has been tested by a third-party lab, in accordance with the EPA testing guidelines, and was shown to kill SARS-CoV-2 in 60 seconds.”

Additionally, the product is also approved to kill nearly all — 99.9%, to be exact — of bacteria and viruses, per P&G.

Bloomberg reported that Mircoban is already on track to reach $200 million in sales per year.

The product, which is part of the EPA’s list N, is now one of a select number of spray products that have been approved by the agency to kill the novel virus.

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Senators Want to Halt Army Combat Fitness Test Rollout

Two senators are asking other lawmakers on Capitol Hill to support a push to pause implementation of the new Army Combat Fitness Test, which they say sets unrealistic standards for some soldiers.

Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Richard Blumenthal wrote a letter to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders Tuesday, asking them to keep a measure in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that would halt the rollout of the long-awaited ACFT. Military.com obtained a copy of the letter, which was first reported on by The Washington Post.

Gillibrand, of New York, and Blumenthal, of Connecticut, say an independent study is needed to examine whether the test is fair to both men and women. They also say the ACFT lowers standards for young male soldiers while setting unrealistic requirements for those serving in fields with few physical demands, such as medical personnel, judge advocates or cyber warriors.

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“Since the Department of the Army has initiated the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), significant concerns have been raised regarding the data used to develop the test, initial test scores, and logistical issues,” the letter states. “The ACFT will determine the career path and success of all soldiers currently serving, yet many information gaps and unknowns remain.”

Army officials did not respond to questions about the letter. Units were authorized to begin taking the ACFT on Oct. 1 after the test was delayed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The scores soldiers receive on the new test won’t count until 2022, however, and will be for data collection only.

Still, Gillibrand and Blumenthal say the ACFT rollout is “premature.” They point to gender and age gaps in the Baseline Soldier Physical Readiness Requirements Study, which the Army conducted to identify fitness requirements that best measure demands of combat.

“The average participant was 24 years old and male,” the letter states. “During Phase II, only 14.3% of test participants were female, and in Phase III, only 10.5% of participants were female. This is not even representative of the total Army force.”

And while the study determined the leg tuck is not a “significant predictive variable,” the letter adds, it was still chosen to be one of the ACFT’s six events. The leg tuck leads to the most test failures, they wrote, yet the Army “has failed to show [it] has any nexus to the skills necessary for combat.”

“It is imperative that we pause implementation until all questions and concerns are answered,” the senators said. “Soldiers’ careers depend on it and the continued lethality of our force requires it.”

Last year, slides leaked on social media showing female soldiers were failing the ACFT at much higher rates than men. About a third of male soldiers were failing the test at the time, while 84% of women were failing.

Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, commander of the Center for Initial Military Training, told Military.com shortly after the leak

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Senators call for pause to Army’s new Combat Fitness Test

Oct. 21 (UPI) — Two senators said Wednesday they have called for a delay in implementing the U.S. Army’s Combat Fitness Test, citing a possible detriment to creating a diverse force.

A letter signed by Sen. Kristin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent a letter to the chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees warning that rollout of the revised test was premature and deserved additional study.

“Significant concerns have been raised regarding the data used to develop the test, initial test scores, and logistical issues,” the senators wrote. “The ACFT will determine the career path and success of all soldiers currently serving, yet many information gaps and unknowns remain.”

It suggested that the ACFT could adversely impact soldiers’ professional prospects, upset recruitment efforts and disproportionally affect women in the Army, and noted that few women were included in early testing groups.

“In 2019, the Army identified the six events of the ACFT and began conducting field tests within 63 battalions across the organization,” the senators wrote. “Preliminary data was leaked showing an overall failure rate of 84 percent for females and 30 percent for males within these battalions.”

The test is an attempt by the Army to establish effective but gender-neutral standards for soldiers’ fitness and readiness, and replaces Army previous fitness tests which clearly displayed a bias but were less rigorous.

Six events are involved in the new test, including a dead lift, weighted ball throw and a “leg tuck,” in which soldiers lift themselves up from a pullup bar using their arm, core and leg muscles.

The leg tuck is largely responsible for the 65 percent failure rate for women and the 10 percent failure rate for men.

The letter from Gillibrand and Blumenthal cited a University of Iowa study that showing that the removal of the leg-tuck could significantly improve success rates. The letter said the leg tuck is “the same event which has no proven predictive value to military occupation.”

It also noted that the previously used Army Physical Fitness Test required no equipment other than a stopwatch, while “the ACFT requires approximately $3,000 worth of equipment to put one individual through the test.”

Gillibrand and Blumenthal added that the test is irrelevant, and possibly damaging, to the careers of Army lawyers, cybersecurity specialists and other non-combat enlistees.

The senators recommend that the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act include a provision allowing Congress to delay use of the ACFT until it is independently reviewed.

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Swiss tighten measures to combat COVID-19 second wave

By John Revill

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland announced tighter restrictions on Sunday to tackle the second wave of the coronavirus hitting the country, including a nation-wide obligation to wear masks and a ban on large scale public gatherings.

Gatherings of more than 15 people in public places will be banned from Monday and masks must be worn in all indoor public places, the government announced following an extraordinary meeting.

An order to wear masks on public transport has been extended to cover train stations, airports, bus and tram stops, the government said, replacing a patchwork of regulations which applied across Switzerland’s different regions.

The obligation to wear a mask will also apply to shops, banks, churches, and cinemas, the government said. It recommended people work from home if they can.

“The COVID-19 infection rate has increased at a very quick rate,” Swiss president Simonetta Sommaruga told reporters at a press conference in Bern. “Unlike before it is affecting all cantons and all age groups.

“With winter coming it is very important to slow the spread of the virus now. Every day counts.”

Switzerland, a country of 8.6 million people, on Friday reported the highest daily number of infections since the COVID-19 crisis began, with 3,105 new cases.

So far 74,422 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus, and 1,823 people have died.

Sommaruga said the government was prepared to impose more drastic restrictions if the new ones did not work.

No time limit has been set for how long the measures – designed to safeguard both the population and the economy – will remain in place, she added.

Health Minister Alain Berset confirmed the second wave of the coronavirus had now materialised.

“I can say that over the last 10 days, the second wave is here… It has come rather earlier and stronger than we thought, but we are prepared for the situation.”

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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How To Combat Common Fears In Joining A Group Fitness Class

Group fitness classes are the ideal way to stay fit and healthy. They offer a wide variety of classes to fit the needs of the group and to meet a vast amount of fitness goals. So much can be said for the benefits of joining a fitness class. Group fitness classes are by far the most popular form of exercise, but for many people a group fitness class can also be intimidating.

So much can be said for the benefits of joining a fitness class. Group fitness classes are by far the most popular form of exercise, but for many people a group fitness class can also be intimidating.

Group Fitness Class

Group fitness is a craze that is sweeping across the country. These classes are for anyone and everyone, even you! With hundreds of different types of fitness classes to choose from you are sure to find one that is right for you.

Feeling the group's energy will help you to stay focused and energized as you workout, it really is an amazing feeling to participate in a group exercise setting.

Here are some types of classes that you might be interested in:

Yoga and Pilates – Yoga and Pilates are great for increasing your balance, flexibility and strengthening your core. A group class is a great way to learn the proper techniques and correct form that is required for each pose.

Zumba – Zumba is an aerobic type class that is ideal for burning calories, strengthening the heart and getting your blood flowing. Zumba is a dance style aerobics class where you will dance to music and have fun. Group classes, like Zumba are very popular and lots of fun, especially because they are in a group setting where the all-around energy is highly contagious. The more the merrier!

CrossFit – CrossFit is an all-around workout class that will push your fitness level to new heights. This class uses a variety of different functional movements, lots of strength training and offers wide variety in classes that change daily with the infamous CrossFit WOD (workout of the day).

It is also one of the most popular group classes out there that can help you lose weight, get strong, improve your functionality in everyday life and build lean muscle tone.

Other Classes

There are many other types of classes available at gyms, studios, community centers and universities across the country. Decide what your fitness goals are and let that guide you to a class. Don't be afraid to try a few of them out and see which one works best for you.

Dealing With Fear

The most common type of fear is the fear of the unknown. When we allow our fears to control us it can prevent us from experiencing new things and from growing in unique ways. Fear can also keep people from being proactive in their fitness goals and staying away from exercises classes.

Fear not! Keep reading to learn some of the most effective ways to …

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