Stars aligned on Fort Jackson Feb. 22-23 as commanders throughout the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command gathered on post to discuss issues affecting readiness and training.
The TRADOC Commander’s Forum included the Quarterly Army Warfighting Challenges Review, a How-the-Army-Fights exercise, and a tour of Fort Jackson.
After touring the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School and the Soldier Support Institute, the roughly 100 forum attendees arrived at the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School to learn more about the Occupational Physical Assessment Test.
Maj. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, commander of the Center for Initial Military Training, told the group of general officers and sergeants major that the Army is responsible for ensuring troops are physically ready for combat.
Army physical trainers devised the OPAT by using science to determine the best exercises to predict how a Soldier will be able to physically handle the stresses of soldiering.
It helps “predict their abilities to do the high-physical impacts we expect to be a Soldier, warrior tasks and battle drills, and their MOS’ high physical impacts,” Funkhouser added.
The basis of the OPAT is to “increase readiness,” he said, “because you know the number of folks who are subject to injuries and attrition (in Basic Combat Training) is based on whether they are coming off the couch and had never done physical fitness before.”
The OPAT has already proven its success, Funkhouser added, as 90 percent of male enlistees pass the test on their first try, while 70 percent of females are a first-time go. For those who don’t pass it helps “get in shape before basic training.”
For one of the leaders at the fitness school, it is “critical” that Army leadership learns as much as they can about their troops’ physical abilities.
Readiness is a high priority, said Maj. Benjamin Bowen, USAPFS deputy director.
“If we are talking about physical readiness, in my humble opinion, in my biased opinion there is no better place to get after physical readiness than the master fitness course — where students are taught exercise science, sporting exercise science, exercise leadership and development that they can take back to their unit and create strength and conditioning program to make them better prepared” for combat, he said.