The U.S. Army has released a directive exempting all Soldiers scoring 540 points or more on the Army Combat Fitness Test from the body fat assessment, regardless of their height and weight. Soldiers must score 80 points or more in each event.
"When our people are ready, the Army is ready,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston, announcing the change. “As Soldiers leverage all domains of Holistic Health and Fitness and strive to reach their maximum potential, our policies should encourage their progress, not constrain it."
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth approved the change at the request of Grinston, following preliminary findings of the Army Comprehensive Body Composition Study, which was initiated by Army senior leaders in 2021.
The study looked at the relationship between body fat and fitness levels, with the understanding that results could inform changes to the Army Body Composition Program. It was the largest and most comprehensive assessment of Soldier body composition and fitness to date.
The study found that Soldiers with a high volume of lean muscle mass were still at risk of failing the body fat assessment as prescribed in Army Regulation 600-9. To avoid erroneously flagging those Soldiers, one recommendation of the study was to exempt those who scored exceptionally high on the ACFT. Army senior leaders approved the exemption for Soldiers scoring 540 points, with a minimum of 80 in each event.
The study concluded that factors such as sex, age and ethnicity did not affect the association between body fat and ACFT scores. The policy applies to all professional military education schools, and to all accessions and retention actions.
Grinston said further policy changes are still under consideration and will require further validation before final approval. However, the overall focus of the program remains unchanged – having an effective, accurate assessment of the holistic health and fitness of our force, while providing Soldiers with the resources they need to improve and preserve individual and unit readiness.
Army Directive 2023-08 immediately implements the change to AR 600-9, the Army Body Composition Program.
The exemption is effective immediately, according to Army officials, and will apply on Soldiers’ next ACFT for record, and it is valid until the next ACFT for record, not to exceed eight months for regular Army and Army Guard Reserve Soldiers, and 14 months for Army National Guard and Army reserve components. Soldiers who fail to re-validate within these timelines are subject to body fat assessments and flagging actions for body fat assessment failures.