When the U.S. Army announced that all active-duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers would be required to take a not-for-record Army Combat Fitness Test in October 2019, Charlie Company, commonly known as “Fox Company,” 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment “White Currahee,” 3rd Brigade Combat Team “Rakkasans" was deployed to Cameroon in support of U.S. Africa Command operations on the African continent.
While PT tests are not required in deployed locations and the Fox Company would be closing up the site shortly after, the members were committed to maintaining readiness by ensuring they kept pace with the rest of the Army in reaching the ACFT’s established deadlines and benchmarks, despite any limitations on resources and time and challenges the deployed climate might present.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when we set out to accomplish running a full diagnostic ACFT without any designed resourcing, but I knew at the very least the attempt to ‘get to yes’ would be worth it,” said Capt. Evan D. Bruccoleri, the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment Fox Company commanding officer.
The company navigated the resourcing obstacle by patching together items from the mobile exercise equipment container that they forward deployed with them, building step up platforms with local wood for the horizontal bars at their makeshift gym, and developing sleds by repurposing extra tow straps and cutting up spare human remains pouches.
Sgt. 1st Class Chad Enslin assumed the role as the company’s ACFT noncommissioned officer in charge. He leveraged his experience in training hundreds of Soldiers as a drill sergeant in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to train and certify the ACFT graders and establish an efficient system for running the test under the given conditions.
“We literally put hundreds of brand new privates through this test every couple of months,” Enslin said. “You learn to think on your feet to make things work, whether using body bags or fancy equipment. The doctrine gives us pretty clear left and right limits that we can fit almost any conditions into.”
Each morning, a small team of Soldiers moved the weights, hex bars, medicine balls and makeshift sleds to the testing site just outside of the compound’s barriers. Over the course of three weeks, Soldiers from the Fox Company, the 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, the 712th Military Intelligence Battalion, 546th Military Police Company, and 21st Engineer Battalion worked around guard schedules and duty shifts to conduct the diagnostic ACFT under grueling conditions.
Additionally, 40 Airmen also assigned in Cameroon participated in the test to establish and maintain strong relationships.
In addition to time and equipment limitations, the winter climate also presented training issues. In the months leading up to the testing weeks, Cameroon experienced consistently high temperatures without precipitation, causing dust clouds to form during the sprint, drag, carry and hand release pushup events, impeding Soldiers’ performances.
The Fox Company’s resourcing and time management ingenuity and willingness to increase the physical requirements necessary to conduct the events ensured the company was able to take the not-for-record ACFT in October along with the rest of the Army, and achieved a company average of 523 points. One member, 1st Lt. Marcos Arroyo, achieved the maximum score of 600 points.
Enslin hoped the Fox Company’s success would inspire other deployed units that might be struggling to maintain their physical readiness.
“If they can do well on an ACFT here, they can do well anywhere,” he said.