Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The Army Combat Fitness Test, ordered gender-neutral three years ago, is under evaluation by the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.
The test involves scoring a service member's performance in physical capabilities, and is a factor in addressing promotions and similar personal advancement. It replaced the Army Physical Fitness Test, in use for 40 years, and deliberately scored male and female participants in a single standard.
A new, "gender-specific" version is under consideration to replace the current, six-event test after the U.S. Congress called for a review.
It noted that female service members regularly received lower scores than men, indicating questionable fairness, and cited unrealistic requirements for service members in non-combat specialist fields like medicine and cybersecurity.
The Service Women's Action Network, an independent activist network, noted that fewer than 50 percent of women passed the ACFT in the third quarter of 2020, in part because of the Baseline Soldier Physical Readiness Study, used by the Army to standardize the test.
Sgt. Major of the Army Michael Grinston said the review, first reported by Task & Purpose, would be completed by the end of 2021.
The Army "is looking at means to apply those scores based on gender to account for biological differences," Lt. Col. Margaret Kageleiry of the Training and Doctrine Command told the Army Times.
"We are addressing these concerns in coordination with Army senior leaders, Congress and with those it impacts the most, our American soldiers," Kageleiry said.
One adjustment under consideration is the ranking of ACFT applicants on a service-wide percentile scale -- for example, identifying the top one percent, the top 10 percent and the top 50 percent, separated by gender -- instead of reaching a single, final score.
An independent Army review of the ACFT is demanded in the Fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. The proposed test, called AFCT 3.0, would still include six events: the maximum deadlift; standing power throw; hand-release push-ups; sprint, drag and carry; leg tuck; and two-mile run.