The Army’s top enlisted leader has a message for soldiers who have not yet taken the new Army Combat Fitness Test: Just take it.

This week, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston led about three dozen command sergeants major from across the Army through the test, which is still provisional but becomes official in March 2022.

“The oldest out there was 57 … and he was out there, and full disclosure, he’s the Sergeant Major for the Army National Guard,” Grinston told Breitbart News on a recent call with a group of defense reporters.

“He beat me on the deadlift and he beat me on the spring-drag-carry. So as an Army National Guard soldier, I couldn’t be more proud and he’s a few years older than me so I felt a little bad about that, I’m not going to lie,” he joked.

Training and Doctrine Command Sergeant Major Daniel T. Hendrex acknowledged there was some apprehension about the test.

“We had about 32 sergeant majors, which I will tell you up front are not spring chickens and we were out there … there was a little bit of apprehension but it was great to see, you know, males, females, the diversity across the forum getting after the test,” he said.

“Some did well, others struggled in areas, but it goes to what I think is different at this level and it was a willingness to say, ‘Hey, we’re just going to do this.’ It’s that shared hardship that brought us together of our own squad of senior leaders to move after that issue.”

Grinston said he wanted to have senior enlisted leaders take the test to set an example for soldiers who may be reluctant to take it.

Only 27 percent of women and 36 percent of men in the Army have logged scores for the ACFT in the Army’s database in the first half of fiscal year 2021, according to

“A lot of people are still reluctant just to take the test,” Grinston said.

He encouraged a “growth mindset” of, “I can’t do that right now, [but] I’m willing to learn, and I’m just going to practice a lot of it.”

The new test was unveiled this year. It consists of six events — the 3-Repetition Maximum Deadlift; the Standing Power Throw; Hand-Release Push-ups; the Sprint-Drag-Carry; the Leg Tuck; and the 2-Mile Run.

The maximum score is 600, while the minimum passing score is 360.

The test was developed after a push during the Obama administration for the Army to develop a gender-neutral physical fitness test that would better mimic tasks soldiers need to perform in combat compared to the previous test.

However, high failure rates among women with the new test compared to men are prompting the Army to relook at the test. Already, the Army has implemented an alternate two-minute plank due to abysmal scoring on the leg tuck.

And more changes may be coming, but the Army’s leaders want soldiers to take the test first.

Grinston said the Army has over 6,000 Master Fitness Trainers to help soldiers train for the test. In addition, he said the Army is sending soldiers and non-commission officers to a Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator course.

Hendrex said the Army is trying to deal with fitness and health holistically, and the ACFT is a small subcomponent of the effort.

“They are putting physical therapists down at the brigade and battalion, occupational therapists, helping you understand the mental side of it, bringing the chaplains in so you can understand how to get after mindfulness, spirituality, religion plays a role … and then as we bring all that together, getting you fitted with the equipment,” he said.

“It has had some phenomenal results and I think we’re going to see that over the next six months to a year,” he said.

The 32 senior enlisted leaders took the ACFT during a leader development forum hosted by Grinston this week to discuss and develop action plans on how they can build cohesive teams.

Grinston said doing the ACFT test is part of learning how to build a cohesive team — a model he wants to use for soldiers to deal with other difficult issues.

“We talk about cohesive teams, that’s actually what it starts as, not shying away from those things that are kind of difficult,” he said.

There is friendly competition among some of the enlisted leaders.

“I think @18abc_Dragon9 got the highest score this morning. Beat mine,” Grinston tweeted to XVIII Airborne Corps Command Sergeant Major Thomas Holland, along with his score of 569.

Grinston also confirmed that the 57-year-old command sergeant major — Sgt. Maj. John Sampa — indeed passed the ACFT.

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