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MWTC Marines take on new CFT

28 May 2008 | Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

The Marine Corps Training and Education Command at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., has been developing a new Combat Fitness Test, which replicates actions experienced during combat and is designed to analyze a Marine’s overall physical fitness.


So far, testing of the CFT has occurred at 12 military installations worldwide. TECOM representatives made their thirteenth stop at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center May 28, 2008.


More than 75 Marines from MWTC participated in the CFT, which was held on Coleville High School’s football field in Coleville, Calif.


According to White Letter 05-07, written by Gen. James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Physical Fitness Test is no longer enough to test a Marine’s physical capacity for all physical skills a Marine may need to succeed on the battlefield.


“Tasks that make up the CFT will have linkage to Marine common combat skills,” said Col. Brian McGuire, TECOM’s Physical Readiness Programs officer. “Additionally, CFT events will have a low degree of technicality such that it will be more of a fitness test than it is of acquired skill.


“Though the PFT is a good general test of overall fitness, the CFT will provide commanders an assessment of a Marine’s overall combat conditioning,” added the Dover, Del., native. “Practicing for the test is practicing for combat.”


The CFT includes an 880-yard run, known as movement to contact, an ammunition lift test and a maneuver-under-fire event.


During the ammunition lift, the Marines will lift a 30-pound ammunition can from shoulder-height to overhead, fully extending their arms each time. They must complete as many repetitions of this exercise as they can within two minutes.


The final portion of the CFT, maneuver-under-fire, requires Marines to travel 300 yards by sprinting, completing a modified high crawl, and weaving through a series of cones designed to simulate barbed wire and other obstacles.


Once they reach the end of the cones, the Marines must evacuate a mock casualty by executing a buddy-drag halfway through the obstacles. Then they must fireman-carry the casualty back to the ammunition cans.


After the Marines carry the casualty back to the ammunition cans, they must carry the ammunition cans back through the cones to the casualty zone, where they must throw a hand grenade.


If the grenade hits the designated target area, five seconds are deducted from the Marine’s time. If the grenade misses, five seconds are added to their overall time. Once the Marines have thrown the grenade, they must pick up the ammunition cans and run back to the starting point.


Inclement weather did not stop the MWTC participants from completing the CFT. Hail began pouring down on the Marines during a portion of the test. Rain also fell, creating a slippery, muddy terrain for the course.


The MWTC Marines who completed the CFT all seemed to feel it was a challenging, but important test.


“So many people are good runners, but including other events shows you how much of an athlete you really are,” said Sgt. Ashley Coldwell, MWTC S-1 staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, and Phoenix native. “The buddy portion was the toughest. That’s the part that really wears you out.”


Sgt. Maj. Michael W. Redmyer, MWTC sergeant major and Richmond, Ind., native, also took part in the CFT testing.


“I think the CFT is a great idea,” he said. “It’s a much better assessment of how you can perform under the physical stress of combat than the PFT can – it’s more about being a Marine.”


Redmyer explained he used to train his platoons similarly as a staff NCO. When his Marines would run, they did so with their weapons and other combat gear, which contributed to better performance under increased physical stress.


The CFT is not designed to replace the PFT as a training requirement. Both tests will be conducted once every six months to evaluate the physical fitness of each Marine.


The fourteenth and final stop for testing will be Recruiting Station Nashville in Nashville, Tenn. The CFT is expected to be fully integrated into Marine Corps semi-annual training requirements by the second half of this year.

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