Military News

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Active-Duty Opportunities Available for Reserve Sailors


By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Rullo, Camp Lemonnier

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti -- The Navy Reserve is a convenient way for some sailors to serve on a part-time basis. The one-weekend-a-month, two-weeks-a-year schedule allows sailors leaving active duty to continue their service and, possibly, reach retirement.

Occasionally, circumstances change, and a return to active duty becomes an attractive option.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Judson, a logistics specialist in the Navy Reserve, said he is interested in going back to active duty to finish his Navy career. “It’s always been one of my goals; to retire from the Navy after 20 years of service,” he said. “While I’m close to retiring from the Navy Reserve side, I’d much prefer to retire from active duty.”

Judson left active duty as part of the Perform to Serve Program in 2012.

RC2AC

Reservists interested in returning to active duty have an opportunity to do so through a program called Reserve Component to Active Component Augmentation, or RC2AC.

The program is used to fill empty positions in the active duty Navy by using existing skill sets from Reserve sailors to help improve and maintain the health of the force.

A strictly voluntary program, RC2AC must be initiated by the appropriate enlisted community manager in response to a specific need. Judson said he was familiar with the program and its requirements before he applied.

“The program is something I’ve followed on and off for the past six years,” he said. “I was waiting for my year group to open up.” A year group is the fiscal year in which an adjusted active duty service date falls. Sailors can work with their command career counselor to calculate their adjusted ADSD and year group.

Sailors interested in applying to the RC2AC program must meet some basic physical, medical, rating, tenure and year group criteria.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class James McLaughlin, a command career counselor here, said that he is working with three mobilized sailors who have applied for the RC to AC program and notes that regulations limit when mobilized sailors may apply.

“Because [these] sailors are mobilized, I cannot submit their packages until they are 90 days from redeployment,” McLaughlin said. “I submit a copy of their deployment orders so that the enlisted community manager can see that they are redeploying at a certain date.”

If selected, sailors must work with their active community detailers to find an appropriate billet. The detailer will contact the sailor to negotiate assignment possibilities.

Considerations

There are some other considerations when applying for the RC2AC program. Sailors will be subject to active advancement quotas as well as their sea-shore flow policy.

McLaughlin said that the Navy is looking to fill seagoing rates such as boatswain’s mates and operational specialists through the program. “If a sailor really wants to go active, they can look at one of these [seagoing] rates,” McLaughlin said. “The Navy is trying to get the manning where they need it.”

Additionally, active duty sailors are not eligible for re-enlistment bonuses upon augmentation.

Individuals who may have been discharged for high year of tenure and have made rank in the reserves may consider RC2AC as a way to continue their active Navy career.

McLaughlin said the program has been popular here. “We have a tremendous success rate here,” he said. “Out of the 20 or so people who applied, 14 were selected.”

Judson said he has applied for an active duty assignment in his current rate of logistics specialist and expects that he will receive an answer by July 20. Although he may reapply if not selected, he said, he is hoping to be successful at his bid to return to active duty and retire.
“I’m nervous,” he said. “It’s that one opportunity to win or lose, so I’m taking my chances on this one and hope to be accepted.”

Face of Defense: Soldier Balances Fitness, Field Time


By Army Sgt. Melissa Lessard, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade

FORT HOOD, Texas -- “A lot of people think fitness is about being strong,” Army Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Wallace said. “The thing that my program does is it’s all-around. You will be able to perform like you look and also be healthier. … You want to look good, but you have to be able to perform too.”

Wallace is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist here with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade. He has been in the Army for 19 years and running his fitness program for four, he said. Wallace has also played college basketball, All-Army basketball and has taken part in five bodybuilding competitions.

Wallace lives the Army values by ensuring that not only he is fit for the mission, but by helping others, through duty and selfless service.

“I want to show you that you can use your body as a gym,” he said.

‘Give it Time’

In the Army, people go to the field and travel a lot, Wallace said. So, he explained, the workouts he uses can last as little as 10-15 minutes but they achieve maximum results.

Wallace said he runs his fitness program for soldiers and civilians. He does it to help others get in shape.

Army Pfc. Tyler Palfy and Spc. Wes Schroeder, both with the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, are working with Wallace on a pilot program, they said.

Schroeder said he hopes he can improve his physical abilities and self-confidence during his time with Wallace.

“I have a lot of knowledge as far as fitness and my athletic background,” he said. “Some people do not like going to the gym or do not want to go alone.”

Wallace said that the people in the groups motivate each other and creates a fun, positive vibe.

Change does not happen overnight, he said.

“If change were easy, everyone would be changing their bodies. Give it time. Be patient,” he said

‘I’ll Meet You There’

“Have a goal,” Wallace said. “Come up with a plan. Then commit to it and see it all the way through. What do you want to do? Do you want to be stronger or faster? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to be in overall better health?”

Wallace said that the most progress he has seen in a person was when he was deployed to Iraq. This person came to him 30 pounds overweight and failing the physical fitness test. Six months later, he had lost 40 pounds and was able to score a 300 on his PT test.

“That made me feel good,” Wallace said. “I don’t do it for the money; I do it to help other people. It does not matter the age, size, background, or where you are from. If you are willing to show up and put in the time, I’ll meet you there.”

Wallace often records his workouts, he said. He edits the recordings to create workout videos. He said his goal is to eventually see his videos distributed internationally.

Wallace said he got into competing by accident.

“I was going to the gym,” he said. “Then some personal trainer asked, ‘Hey, do you compete?’”

“I said ‘No.’ The personal trainer said, ‘You should go,’” Wallace said. “So I gave it a try, not knowing how to prep and going into it blindly.”

He placed third at his first competition. After seeing how successful he was the first time, he continued.

“I feel like I am going in the right direction,” Wallace said.

Army Combat Fitness Test Set to Become Test of Record

By Sean Kimmons, Army News Service

FORT EUSTIS, Va. -- Army leaders have approved a new strenuous fitness test designed to better prepare soldiers for combat tasks, reduce injuries and lead to cost savings across the service.

Army officials said the six-event readiness assessment, called the Army Combat Fitness Test, is intended to replace the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, which has been around since 1980.

Beginning in October 2020, all soldiers will be required to take the new gender- and age-neutral test. Before that, field testing set to begin this October will allow the Army to refine the test, with initial plans for up to 40,000 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers to see it.

“The Army Combat Fitness Test will ignite a generational, cultural change in Army fitness and become a cornerstone of individual soldier combat readiness,” said Army Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, commander of the Army's Center of Initial Military Training. “It will reduce attrition and it will reduce musculoskeletal injuries and actually save, in the long run, the Army a heck of a lot of money.”

Army officials said at least six years of significant research went into the test's development as researchers looked at what soldiers must do to be fit for combat.

“Throughout that research and testing, the goal was to provide our leaders with a tough, realistic, field-expedient assessment of the physical component of their soldiers' individual readiness,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey. “The ACFT is scientifically validated and will help better prepare our soldiers to deploy, fight and win on any future battlefield.”

Army officials said roughly 2,000 soldiers have already taken the test, previously called the Army Combat Readiness Test. They provided feedback as part of the Army Training and Doctrine Command and Forces Command pilot programs that began last year at several installations.

“The current PT test is only a 40 percent predictor of success for performing in combat and executing warrior tasks and battle drills,” Frost said. “This test is approximately an 80 percent predictor of performing based on our ability to test the physical components of combat fitness.”

Six Events

While the ACFT still keeps the 2-mile run as its final event, it introduces five others to provide a broad measurement of a soldier's physical fitness. The events are completed in order and can take anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes for a soldier to finish.

-- Strength deadlift: With a proposed weight range of 120 to 420 pounds, the deadlift event is similar to the one found in the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, which is given to new recruits to assess lower-body strength before they are placed into a best-fit career field. The ACFT will require soldiers to perform a three-repetition maximum deadlift -- only one in OPAT -- and the weights will be increased. Army officials said the event replicates picking up ammunition boxes, a wounded battle buddy, supplies or other heavy equipment.

-- Standing power throw: soldiers toss a 10-pound ball backward as far as possible to test muscular explosive power that may be needed to lift themselves or a fellow soldier up over an obstacle or to move rapidly across uneven terrain.

-- Hand-release pushups: In this event, soldiers start in the prone position and do a traditional pushup, but when at the down position they release their hands and arms from contact with the ground and then reset to do another pushup. This allows for additional upper body muscles to be exercised.

-- Sprint/drag/carry: As they dash 25 meters five times up and down a lane, soldiers will perform sprints, drag a sled weighing 90 pounds, and then hand-carry two 40-pound kettlebell weights. Army officials said this can simulate pulling a battle buddy out of harm's way, moving quickly to take cover, or carrying ammunition to a fighting position or vehicle.

-- Leg tuck: Similar to a pull-up, soldiers lift their legs up and down to touch their knees/thighs to their elbows as many times as they can. Army officials said this exercise strengthens the core muscles since it doubles the amount of force required compared to a traditional situp.

-- 2-mile run: Same event as on the current test. Army officials said they expect run times to be a bit slower due to all of the other strenuous activity.

The ACFT gauges soldiers on the 10 components of physical fitness: muscular strength and endurance, power, speed, agility, aerobic endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination and reaction time. The current test only measures two: muscular and aerobic endurance.

Test Scoring

Army officials said the vast majority of policies with the APFT will likely be carried over to the new test.

Scoring could be similar with 100 points for each event, for a maximum of 600 points, officials said. Minimum required scores, however, may change depending on a soldier's occupational specialty, the officials noted. Soldiers in more physically demanding jobs may see tougher minimums, similar to how OPAT evaluates new recruits.

“The more physically challenging your [occupation], the more you'll be required to do at the minimum levels,” said Michael McGurk, director of research and analysis at CIMT.

Another difference is that there are no alternate events planned for this test, he said.

Soldiers will still get adequate time to rehabilitate from an injury. But under a new “deploy-or-be-removed” policy, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said in February that troops who are non-deployable for more than 12 months will be processed for administrative separation or referred to the disability evaluation system.

“Generally speaking, somebody who has a long-term permanent profile that precludes taking a fitness test may not be retainable for duty in the Army,” McGurk said.

Costs

At about $20 million, the new test will be more costly for the Army to conduct, officials said. A single lane of equipment at full retail value is about $1,200. A battalion’s worth of equipment will range from $12,000 to $20,000, Army officials said. Those prices will likely drop as the Army buys more sets at wholesale prices.

Officials said equipment should last about 10 years, meaning it will cost less than $3 per soldier over time.

“If I have a femoral neck fracture in the hip of a soldier, that injury will cost the government about $1 million,” McGurk said. “So, if I avoid 20 of those injuries a year I've paid for the program for the next 10 years for equipment. The potentials on return are very significant.”

The Army estimates $4 billion is spent each year due to injuries, non-deployable soldiers, accidents and other health-related costs.

As part of its culture change, officials said, the Army is building a Holistic Health and Fitness System to produce healthier and fitter soldiers. The new test is one piece of the system, they said, in addition to the OPAT, the improvement of fitness centers, and healthier options at dining facilities.

Army officials said researchers studied foreign militaries that have rolled out similar holistic programs and found them to be highly successful.

The Australian Army, for instance, introduced it to their basic training and saw a roughly 30 percent reduction in injuries.

“Do I know we're going to have a 25 to 30 percent reduction? No, but I certainly hope we will,” McGurk said. ”We think [the test is] well worth it, and it's the right thing to do for soldiers in any case.”

Feedback

Army officials said feedback from soldiers has so far been overwhelmingly positive.

“As we all know, physical fitness training can become rather monotonous if people train the same way,” McGurk said. ”So, a lot of them saw this as a great change and how it required them to use different muscles.”

While some soldiers may disagree with replacing the current test, McGurk said, fitness has come a long way from 40 years ago when the APFT was first developed.

“In 1980, running shoes were relatively a new invention,” he said. “The Army was still running in boots for the PT test back then. Change is difficult, but we're an Army that adapts well to change.”

In early June, senior leaders outlined what the Army should focus on over the next decade to retain overmatch against potential adversaries.

The 2028 vision statement, signed by the Army's secretary and chief of staff, calls for modernized equipment, particularly the development of autonomous systems. It also stresses the need for physically fit and mentally tough soldiers to fight and win in high-intensity conflict.

“Technology is going to be dominant and we need a lot of things that we're looking at through modernization,” Frost said. “In the end, you still need the United States Army soldier to be able to seize and hold terrain.”
The ACFT is a foundational method, leaders believe, that the Army can use to start a new era of fitness and obtain soldier overmatch in combat. The Army’s leaders understand the importance of fitness and the importance of the PT test to drive a change in culture, Frost said. “They've made the decision, and we're ready to execute,” he added.