Soldiers will soon be required to pass harder physical test to be combat arms

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rogers, assigned to the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, performs the strength dead lift portion of the Operational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) during annual training at Camp Ethan Allen Training Center, Jericho, Vt., June 1, 2016. U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Spc. Avery Cunningham)

The US Army will be implementing a new Occupational Physical Assessment Test on January 1st for all recruits and soldiers looking to enter more physically demanding work, such as Infantry and Armor.

Soldiers wanting to enter the more demanding branches will have to pass a four-part-test to enter certain Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), which will assist in the gender-neutralization of combat specialties and help recruiters determine which jobs new enlistees would be best suited for.

The OPAT evaluation consists of a medicine-ball throw, a deadlift, a standing long jump and an interval run. Unlike other Army Physical tests, the OPAT does not have different scoring scales for age and gender- all are required to pass the single requirement to see if they would be a good fit for the MOS of their choice.

Another interesting difference is the scoring system, which is split into four color-coded physical demand categories: heavy (black), significant (gray), moderate (gold) and unprepared (white). More demanding occupations (including about a dozen combat arms jobs) fall into the black category- scoring in this category opens the door for all MOSs. At a minimum, all US Army personnel and recruits must meet the gold category.

While some jobs -such as mechanics or helicopter repairers- fall into the gray category, the overwhelming majority of Army roles fall into the gold category.

According to the Army Times, the OPAT will only be required if a soldier wants to switch over to a more demanding MOS. While the US Army is looking to create a combat readiness test, the OPAT (or aspects of it) may serves as a temporary gap measure until a proper combat test could be devised.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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