Army Physical Fitness Test evaluates Cadets’ ability as officers

Second Regiment Cadets perform push-ups during APFT. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals.

By Noelle Wiehe
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – They’ve prepared for this their entire ROTC career, from visiting the gym on their own to running with their college cadre back home; these Cadets are prepared and fit for the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).

At LDAC Cadets must complete the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). It is through this test that the LDAC cadre decide who is ready and able to continue the course and complete events such as the confidence and obstacle courses. Should a Cadet fail the APFT, there is a possibility that they could be sent home.

“An individual’s physical fitness is directly related to an individual’s combat readiness,” said Col. Dean Shultis, Warrior Forge Commandant of Cadets. “In the Army, what we do is prepare for combat as part of our mission.”

To achieve a passing score on the APFT of 60 points per event, for a total of 180 minimum points, a male age 17-21 must complete 53 sit-ups, 42 push-ups and run two miles in 15 minutes, 54 seconds. To achieve a maximum score on the test requires at least 78 sit-ups, 71 push-ups and complete the run in 13 minutes or less. For females of the same age range to pass they must complete 53 sit-ups, 19 push-ups and finish the run in 18 minutes, 54 seconds. For females to max the test requires 78 sit-ups, 42 push-ups and complete the two-mile run in 15 minutes, 26 seconds.

For 1st Regiment Cadet Jashay Bingham of the University of Houston, passing one of the most important tests here at LDAC was of no concern to her. Bingham is looking to achieve RECONDO, which is a rare, yet a widely sought-after honor given to those Cadets who clearly excel in every event at LDAC.

“My goal was to do 90 sit-ups and I did 93,” she said.

Bingham performed the most push-ups of any female in her regiment, as well as completed the fastest two-mile run of any females in her regiment.

Events throughout the training at LDAC can be “hard physically,” as 2nd Regiment Cadet Natalie Wynn of West Virginia University said of the Confidence Obstacle Course. Second Regiment Cadet Kyle Orr of the University of North Texas agreed but said that he was prepared for the obstacle course, thanks to his school’s ROTC program. “We have one on campus we get to do once a semester that is similar–just on a smaller scale.”

By using the APFT to assure that Cadets are physically fit enough to run the course, there is no doubt that they can graduate LDAC ready to become second lieutenants.

First Regiment Cadet Kevin Deleon of Pacific Lutheran University has no inhibitions about being able to complete the training course. “I’m going to take it as it goes and do my best,” he said in between APFT events.

Cadets who score highest, as well as earn bragging rights among their fellow future officers are also placed higher on the order of merit list (OML). The higher a Cadet places on the OML, the more likely they are to be assigned to the job they want in the Army.

Shultis said, when talking about the importance of fitness in the military, “…it makes a huge difference in the confidence of a new unit when their lieutenant, from day one, looks the part and is physically fit, has a good presence and is confident in himself. “

Even though Cadets are competing with one another for top scores at LDAC, they are always helping to keep each other motivated. While standing in line during APFT, 1st platoon squad leader of 4th Regiment, Jacob Walters of the University of Kansas had his entire platoon chanting and clapping as his Cadets worked through each event: “Let’s go 1st platoon, let’s go!”

Second Regiment Cadet Katrina Andrews of Seattle University had 2nd Lt. Rebecca Lee, her cadre and mentor from her school, motivating her from behind the observers’ fence at the APFT field. “My goal was to max it; that’s 42 sit-ups, but I did 51.”

Other Cadets, such as 1st Regiment Cadet Blake Crowther of Widener University, convince themselves after the test that they didn’t push themselves enough. “I got 66 sit-ups, but it wasn’t my best. I could have done a couple more.”

The test is nothing new to these Cadets. Through their ROTC programs at their schools, Cadets are pushed to their limits so that they can pass the test or even do the maximum requirements.

Despite the OML and bragging rights earned, whether Cadets achieve RECONDO is not the most important result from them working hard to maximize their physical fitness.

“It frees them up to worry about their Soldiers’ next step, what is over the next hilltop, what is over the next horizon,” Shultis said. “They never have to worry about whether they are going to make it because they are physically fit. And it makes them so much more mentally tough, as well.”

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