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US Army Introduces Occupational Physical Assessment Test For Retrainees/New Accessions

This is big news for the US Army as they begin to implement functional fitness assements. Granted, it’s only being used as as a tool to determine suitability for training into certain MOSs, but it’s a start. A common, standarized, Physical Fitness Test will always be important for centralized boards, whether for promotion or retention, so I dont see that going away.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — On Tuesday, the Army began administering the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, to all recruits to assess their fitness for military occupational specialties. The OPAT also will be used to assess some Soldiers who are reclassifying into a different MOS.


Soldiers administer the “standing long jump” portion of the Occupational Physical Assessment Test to potential recruits during an OPAT pilot program. (Photo Credit: Army)

Army Recruiting Command estimates that the OPAT will be administered to about 80,000 recruits and thousands of cadets annually. Soldiers moving into more physically demanding MOSs also will have to meet the OPAT standard, said Jim Bragg, retention and reclassification branch chief for Army Human Resources Command.

Under the OPAT, there are four physical demand categories, Bragg explained.

— Heavy (black).
— Significant (gray).
— Moderate (gold).
— Unqualified (white).

When a Soldier wishes to reclassify to a new MOS, from the significant category to the heavy category, for example, he or she will need to take the OPAT. However, a Soldier whose new MOS falls within the same or a lower level physical demand category will not need to take the OPAT.

The Soldier’s commander will be responsible for ensuring the OPAT is administered prior to approval of a reclassification, Bragg said. As with any reclassification action, the battalion-level or brigade-level career counselor will administer the OPAT.

When it comes to recruiting, Brian Sutton, a spokesman for Army Recruiting Command, said the OPAT is not meant to turn away or weed people out.

“It is designed to put the right people in the right jobs and to ensure we keep our recruits safe while doing so,” he said.

OPAT scoring is gender neutral, he added. All Soldiers, male and female, must pass the same physical standards for their desired career field.

The test will be administered to everyone coming into the Army: officer, enlisted, active, Reserve and Guard. It will be administered by any command responsible for Soldier assessions — including Recruiting Command and Army Cadet Command — after the Soldier swears in but before he or she begins training.

FOUR TESTS OF OPAT

OPAT measures muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, explosive power and speed. It consists of four individual tests:

— The “standing long jump” is designed to assess lower-body power. Participants stand behind a takeoff line with their feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. They jump as far as possible.

— The “seated power throw” is designed to assess upper-body power. Participants sit on the floor with their lower back against a yoga block and upper back against a wall. They hold a 4.4-pound (2-kilogram) medicine ball with both hands, bring the medicine ball to their chest and then push or throw the medicine ball upwards and outwards at an approximate 45-degree angle. The throw is scored from the wall to the nearest 10 centimeters from where the ball first contacts the ground.

— The “strength deadlift” is designed to assess lower-body strength. Participants stand inside a hex-bar and perform practice lifts to ensure good technique. They then begin a sequence of lifts starting with 120 pounds, working up to 220 pounds.

— The “interval aerobic run,” always performed last, is designed to assess aerobic capacity. The evaluation involves running “shuttles,” or laps, between two designated points that are spaced 20 meters apart. The running pace is synchronized with “beeps,” produced by a loudspeaker, at specific intervals. As the test progresses, the time between beeps gets shorter, requiring recruits to run faster in order to complete the shuttle. Participants are scored according to the level they reach and the number of shuttles they complete.

FOUR PHYSICAL DEMAND CATEGORIES

Here is a quick breakdown of the four physical demand categories incorporated into the OPAT:

— “Black” is for MOSs with heavy physical demands, like those of the combat arms branches, that require lifting or moving 99 pounds or more.

To attain black on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 5 feet, 3 inches in the standing long jump; 14 feet, 9 inches for the seated power throw; 160 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:14 minute mile over the course of 43 shuttles.

— “Gray” is for MOSs with significant physical demands that require frequent or constant lifting of 41 to 99 pounds and occasional tasks involving moving up to 100 pounds.

To attain gray on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 4 feet, 7 inches in the standing long jump; 13 feet, 1 inch for the seated power throw; 140 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:20 minute mile over the course of 40 shuttles.

— “Gold” is for MOSs with moderate physical demands, such as cyber, that require frequent or constant lifting of weights up to 40 pounds or when all physical demands are occasional.

To attain gold on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 3 feet, 11 inches in the standing long jump; 11 feet, 6 inches for the seated power throw; 120 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:27 minute mile over the course of 36 shuttles.

— “White” is unqualified.

A recruit or Soldier who attains white has failed to meet OPAT’s minimum standards.

Sutton noted that if a recruit fails the OPAT, he or she can request to retake the test. If the recruit cannot eventually pass the OPAT color designator for his or her MOS, it may be possible to renegotiate the contract to allow the recruit to enter an MOS with a lower physical demand OPAT category, the minimum being gold.

(David Vergun can be followed on Twitter: @vergunARNEWS.)

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ARNEWS reporter Todd Lopez contributed to this report.

40 Responses to “US Army Introduces Occupational Physical Assessment Test For Retrainees/New Accessions”

  1. Jbgleason says:

    Not sure what to make of this. I like the idea of a minimum standard but these minimums… Pretty sure my broke ass old self could get off my barstool and pass that Black in the parking lot. Which is far from an endorsement. Is there a rule against making a minimum realistic?

    • JR says:

      It’s a pretty easy test, but some how recruits still have a hard time passing (run).

      • James says:

        Interested in hearing more about the run fails, 10:14 is a fast walk pace for a straight course. Is it that they have a hard time completing a miles worth of shuttle runs, are the successively shorter interval hacks getting them , are their overall times fails,or is it a mixture of those and more?

    • straps says:

      Couple interesting things about this:

      Gender neutrality. There are women–and men–who do not have the musculoskeletal make-up for some of the jobs they (or their recruiters) aspire to. If they have the strength-to-weight ratio, good on ’em.

      Shuttle run is NOTHING like 4 laps around a 1/4 mile track. It’s a better measure of things like agility and joint health. I’ve watched people who “looked” to be in good health/who I knew could run a mile at a stretch fail.

      If this is being run on new accessions AND re-enlistments, obvious that the Army is looking towards building its force from first-termers who have proven (or developed) the conduct and the aptitude to re-enlist for better work. A welcome change to what I was told as I was leaving active duty by someone called a “career counselor” a long time ago: re-enlist for what I did (low-GT, high clearance, eventually eliminated by technological progress), choose 5 HORRIBLE MOSs the street recruiters couldn’t fool high school kids into signing on for, or start over as a discharged civilian with a 214. This was 2 years after getting a USAMAPS offer (tanked by a CG [OCS, of course] who was told no more of me were in the pipeline–the schoolhouse knew we were obsolete) so it wasn’t due to conduct, clearance or ASVAB.

      But yeah, the population from which the military draws is not getting stronger, faster or more inquisitive.

  2. Jon says:

    Interesting. Should be administered to Mech or Cav 11B’s if they want to go LI from my experience.

  3. DAN III says:

    OPAT is going to help circumvent the obama administration’s diktat to put females in combat arms. Rightfully so. As long as the OPAT is executed faithfully to a true standard.

    Enlisting some recruit in an MOS where they can’t meet OPAT physical standards is ludicrous. Then, trying to reclassify the recruit into a different, less physically demanding MOS is going to be an administrative nightmare. OPAT will become a bureaucratic boondoggle. Especially when the recruiter doesn’t get mission credit for an enlistment that fails to pass OPAT and said recruit gets discharged.

    OPAT will only work if it used as a condition to enlistment. Not AFTER enlistment. The prospect needs to pass OPAT before he enlists. Not after.

    I predict that OPAT will go the way of Weight Control and the APFT….selective enforcement of the standards.

    • SSD says:

      It’s my understanding that it will be a condition of enlistment into a certain MOS.

      • DAN III says:

        SSD,

        OPAT will be administered to recruits after they enlist but before they ship to basic combat training. Guess who administers the test ? Members of the Recruiting Command, recruiters.

        Will a recruiter’s enlistment credit be pulled for an enlistment who fails their assigned OPAT, cannot be reclassified into an “easier” MOS and gets subsequently discharged ?

        Seems to me integrity is going to be a virtue that will definately challenge the Recruiting Command. Especially the R & R Battalions of the Army National Guard.

        • straps says:

          As Metrics-driven/Data-driven as the Army is now, it’s entirely possible. The referral program they closed down a couple years back paid in increments–the first for finishing Basic, the second for completing AIT.

          One thing for sure, the Station Commander (and local USAREC Commander) will supervise this deal. On top of the 120-hour-per week workloads (some may think I’m exaggerating) associated with leading salty NCOs running around in the wild…

      • DAN III says:

        SSD,

        OPAT may be used to assess current MOSQ’ed soldiers reclassifying into a different MOS. Not for MOS assignment when enlisting at MEPS.

        • SSD says:

          It’s also for new accessions and that’s really the point. The vast majority of any AIT Soldiers are new accessions and not retrainees.

          • straps says:

            I’m thinking this is changing.

            The first sign of this was on a Surge-era OIF rotation when a kid in the chow line told me his assigned place of duty was an Ed Center on Cp Victory, where he was getting a combat patch and a tax holiday while on an intensive GT improvement program. During the freakin’ Surge, when everyone I knew was in-sector for 18 hours a day (or on an ECP or a stretch of wall). E-3, less than 2 years into his first enlistment, already being sold re-enlistment/reclass options.

            That this will be a thing for aspiring re-enlistees looking for the fast track in a (hopefully) more “agile” Army [see what I did there?] is another…

  4. kev says:

    220lbs deadlift is the max? haaaaa

    • DAN III says:

      kev,

      Don’t laugh. New, 18 year old male recruits cannot do 3 pushups. 220# deadlift is not a certainty for many of today’s young, fat and lazy adults.

  5. DAN III says:

    ALCON,

    The OPAT standards may look “easy” to some….if enlisting in 1963. But, this is the United States of 2017. I have seen 18 year old infantry recruits who COULD NOT do 3 push-ups !

    Today’s young adults are lazy, fat and slovenly. OPAT is an effort to have physicaly capable recruits. But social mores and the physical decline of young citizens in general, will not be fixed by the implementation of military programs like OPAT. Hell, just look at any open field and tell me how often you see boys playing sandlot baseball or football. Yeah, that’s what I thought. “Never”.

    • James says:

      Lol, was relying on that about a year ago when a friend’s 10year old grandson was hanging around the local surplus store. Told him a dollar a push-up. Little sucker took half the money I had on me! 47 freaking push-ups at ten!

      • DAN III says:

        James,

        Good for him ! But, that 10 year old is the exception. Not the rule.

        • James says:

          Wouldn’t be bragging on him if he wasn’t. 🙂

        • straps says:

          Children with that kind of ability at that age are fun to watch on the schoolyard–especially when they choose to be on the “right” side of the bullying equation…

    • Will Rodriguez says:

      “OPAT is an effort to have physicaly capable recruits.”

      No, OPAT is a check the block technique to facilitate women in the combat arms.

      Yep, there are new recruits that can’t past the test but now the path is created to allow women in the Infantry by creating an incredibly low standard.

      “The current standard for combat arms, according to the OPAT, requires you to have the lower body power of mediocre 12-year-old, the upper body power of an elite 14-year-old, the strength of an average 13-to-15-year-old who works out, and the endurance level of a fit senior citizen.”

      https://www.armytimes.com/articles/commentary-officer-takes-on-the-armys-new-opat-and-pulls-no-punches

  6. TurboMech says:

    Yeah, standing long jump is smart. Exactly how I tore my meniscus. Good job army. This is why I’m getting out

  7. 32sbct says:

    I have not tried the shuttle run yet, but the rest of the tests were a breeze…and I’m 59. That being said, I just retired from the USAR and the majority of the Soldiers who failed the APFT in my brigade were all males under the age of 23. Truly pathetic. The APFT is not hard, particularly the minimum standard. When I was down Fort Benning last December to attend my son’s graduation from Infantry OSUT I had an opportunity to talk to a few of the drills. They all commented on how totally out of shape many of the new Soldiers are when they arrive. It is a sad but common problem with the video game generation.

  8. JKifer says:

    I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I have to (emphasis on have to) go out and mix in with the general public, I cant help but notice how our country has digressed into a nation of patheticness (mostly).. and I know that patheticness is not a word.. I don’t care.. this whole thing should not be surprising to those of us who have been in long enough to see events come full circle.. who knows, maybe our new SecDef (much respect) will bring in some upper level changes that will flush out this kinda of shit (including the forced acceptance of females in combat arms) from our services..

  9. Mehmaster says:

    Holy elitist attitudes Batman!!!
    It sounds like most people commenting are triple tabbed, SME, HALO/ DIVE triathletes. Same smugness academia hipsters display about Thier “education” compared to others.

    • Not smug at all. Asking a young Soldier to be able to score 180 on the Army APFT is hardly elitist, it’s asking them to meet a very low fitness standard. Do you realize how many Soldiers leave Basic/AIT, come to their unit, then flunk their first APFT? It should be zero but it’s not even close. That indicates areal problem not only in the system, but in the generation of young Americans we are pulling from for military service. I was in from 1985 to the end of 2016 and it’s only in the past three to five years where I’ve seen the physical abilities of large numbers of young Soldiers decline. It’s not just a problem for the military, it’s a nationwide problem.

      • straps says:

        I rarely had a problem with them failing their FIRST Record APFT after AIT (all bets off if the kid got broken during IET).

        The second one (or the first Diagnostic) was always the no-BS gauge of their (and their leadership’s) commitment to their physical readiness.

  10. Cropduster says:

    Standing long jump? Upon seeing the photo, I first thought it was jump rope with a red rope. I was thinking,” how low have our standards dropped?!, must be the end result of the Obama CIC.”

  11. Justin says:

    Anyone who runs a linear progression for 6 months should be able to smoke this test.

  12. MGunz says:

    They will never stop trying to make this simple issue (of combat fitness) more complicated than it needs to be. IMO it’s more about lowering standards than anything else.

  13. Will Rodriguez says:

    OPAT is a check the block technique to facilitate women in the combat arms.

    A path is now created to allow women in the Infantry by creating an incredibly low standard.

    “The current standard for combat arms, according to the OPAT, requires you to have the lower body power of mediocre 12-year-old, the upper body power of an elite 14-year-old, the strength of an average 13-to-15-year-old who works out, and the endurance level of a fit senior citizen.”

    https://www.armytimes.com/articles/commentary-officer-takes-on-the-armys-new-opat-and-pulls-no-punches

    • SSD says:

      Or, it’s instituting a standard where none previously existed.

      • Will Rodriguez says:

        It’s not an “or” though it might be an “and”.

        There is no contesting a standard is being instituted where one didn’t exist.

        The fact that it’s being instituted because of the opening of all combat arms to women is no coincidence especially if one is aware of decades worth of efforts to develop branch specific physical tests. The additional fact that the standards are so low is also very telling.

        The OPAT still doesn’t answer that mail. The driving factors being evening out how soldiers are measured across specialties and maintaining a higher level of physical fitness in certain combat arms.

        This test isn’t part of a soldier’s evaluation and is not going to be administered across the service as a whole.

        A much better approach would have been to establish or update combat arms soldier and collective standards e.g. a realistic established load for the 12 mile forced march live fire. (Never did those with a 35lb ruck)

        If you need more evidence check out the Army’s own headline announcing the effort. “OPAT: Advanced Standards for a PROGRESSIVE Army” (emphasis added)

        For those truly interested in the history of the Army’s PT tests check out “A Historical Review and Analysis of Army Physical Readiness Training and Assessment by Whitfield B. East http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/download/csipubs/APRT_WhitfieldEast.pdf

        Interesting notes:
        Almost 60% of US kids failed a PT test that only 9% of European kids failed in the mid ‘1950’s. p121
        There were combat arms specific tests up to 1972. We stopped that in 1973 but still required higher performance by combat arms soldiers in the same tests. Branch specific testing pretty much died around 1980 where it was recognized specialized equipment and testing was “too hard and complicated”.
        There’s also a fascinating discussion of the role of women integration and PT standards from about p 120-160.

  14. Jesse says:

    Since this is getting implemented, they need to reevaluate the ratings for MOS, because my 35P linguist job is rated heavy. And I don’t know about you guys, but if MOS like that are rated heavy, it will severely limit the population of an MOS that is already undermanned.

    • SSD says:

      That’s my old MOS. It’s because of the equipment.

      • Jesse says:

        Right, but honestly the only time we had to move equipment like that on our own was for inventory and maybe one or two field trainings. You know what though, I take it back, leave the heavy rating for 35P, that way when they get to the Hotel California there will actually be a reason for Army guys to go to the gym. Can’t be eating all those subs outside the gate without a good workout.

    • Mehmaster says:

      I know that the manpack stuff is about 45lb by itself and off center as hell. add extra batteries, water, plate carrier,bullets etc.. your looking at a pretty heavy load even for a raid. god forbid you have to go out on a multi day mission your load can get pretty excruciating. Wanting someone who can move with the combat arms and contribute at or near the decisive action isn’t an unreasonable request especially now when electronic warfare is doing a fair deal of what was the 35p job and fighting for their seat at the table by making themselves relevant to the ground forces commander