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Army Considering Pass/Fail Option on ACFT for Sergeant Promotions

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The U.S. Army may do away with making sergeant promotions dependent on high Army Combat Fitness Test scores and base them on a go/no-go system instead.

Currently, sergeants trying to get promoted to staff sergeant can get 180 promotion points for maxing the Army Physical Fitness Test. Army leaders are considering changing that policy since the new ACFT, which becomes mandatory on Oct. 1, 2020, will be much harder to max.

“Right now, the APFT is extremely weighted on your promotion points — 180 promotions points. That’s a pretty big chunk,” Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston told an audience of soldiers at the 2019 Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting this week.

“One course of action is … to make it go or no-go on the ACFT,” he said. “That is one of the things we are going to look at.”

Related: Men and Women Seeing Different Failure Rates on Army’s Gender-Neutral Fitness Test

Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, who is in charge of overseeing the ACFT as commander of the Army’s Center for Initial Military Training, said such a change may make sense since promotions to other ranks already follow a go/no-go system for fitness scores.

“If you look at the officers’ and the senior noncommissioned officers’ side of it, it’s pass/fail,” he said. “Either you get 180 points or whatever the points are going to be if you pass, and you get zero points if you can’t.”

Army leaders are also considering lowering the number of promotion points sergeants can get for ACFT scores and raising points for achievements such as professional military education, Grinston said.

“So, if I go to Ranger School, maybe I get more promotion points,” he said. “We are looking at maybe taking that down and then maybe give you more points if you score expert with your rifle because that is soldier lethality.”

ACFT program officials are hoping that evaluating test scores from the two diagnostic ACFT tests active soldiers are required to take and the one diagnostic Reserve component soldiers must take in fiscal 2020 will help make these policy decisions, Hibbard said.

“We have got a year until Oct. 1, 2020 — until those decisions have to be made,” he said.

— Matthew Cox can be reached at

Read more: New Army Chief Wants to Let Soldiers Stay Longer at Favorite Duty Stations

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