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The U.S. Army is evaluating a new version of its gender-neutral Army Combat Fitness Test, one that would likely create “gender-specific” evaluation categories for men and women when it comes time for promotion.

The move would back away from the Army’s original plan to have the new six-event test be gender-neutral in all aspects. It’s in recognition of data showing that physiological differences between men and women cause individual scores to differ by 100 points on average by gender, according to an Army official familiar with the effort.

Soldiers of the 1-294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, start the two-mile run portion of a diagnostic Army Combat Fitness Test in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt on September 10, 2019. (U.S. Army/Capt. Mark Scott)
Soldiers of the 1-294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, start the two-mile run portion of a diagnostic Army Combat Fitness Test

The ACFT 3.0 will likely eliminate the three separate scoring categories for military occupational specialties and move to a single scoring standard for all soldiers, the Army official said.

“To serve in the Army, every soldier will have to meet the same standard,” the Army official said.

But instead of judging men and women’s raw scores against the same rubric, the Army is proposing separate percentile bands for men and women that would be gender-blind when soldiers go before a promotion board.

“We are not going to artificially inflate the raw score for women, but we have to figure out a way to make it fair to both genders,” the Army official said. “We need a fair way that accounts for physiological differences.”

The proposed solution involves the creation of “gender-specific” percentile bands broken into levels such as Top 1%, Top 10%, Top 25% and Top 50%, according to an Army briefing slide circulating on social media.

All soldiers in the active-duty, National Guard and Reserve force have been authorized to take the six-event ACFT since Oct. 1, 2020, but test scores will not count against soldiers until March 2022.

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Army leaders announced in January that the service would conduct an independent review of the ACFT as directed by the Fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., raised concerns in mid-October about whether the test was fair to both men and women, and whether it sets unrealistic requirements for those serving in fields with few physical demands, such as medical personnel, judge advocates or cyber specialists.

The Service Women’s Action Network, or SWAN, in mid-November said it is unclear whether the ACFT, which was designed to be gender-neutral, is fair to female soldiers, arguing that fewer than 50% of women passed the ACFT in the third quarter of 2020. That was partly due to the methodology the Army used to standardize the test, called the Baseline Soldier Physical Readiness Requirements Study.

The 3.0 would add a 1-100 point scale to the alternate plank event for soldiers who struggle to perform the minimum requirement of one leg tuck. The 3.0 would allow soldiers to choose between the plank and the leg tuck, a change from ACFT 2.0 which required them to attempt the leg tuck first.

“Soldiers don’t need to worry about the percentile bands right now”,the Army official said. “The Army needs soldiers to take the test, so it can see if the concept is valid for all soldiers.”

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National Guard preps for March 4 — the day QAnon followers think Trump will still be inaugurated

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Nearly 5,000 National Guard troops are expected to stay in Washington for at least another three weeks amid concerns over potential violence from QAnon adherents, some of whom believe former President Donald Trump will be inaugurated on March 4.

House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., cited QAnon chatter surrounding March 4 during a hearing this week with defense officials flagged by CNN.

“Some of these people have figured out that apparently 75 years ago, the president used to be inaugurated on March 4,” Smith said. “Now why that’s relevant, God knows. At any rate, now they are thinking maybe we should gather again and storm the Capitol on March 4 … that is circulating online.”

Pentagon official Robert Salesses said at the hearing that 4,900 National Guard troops will remain in D.C. through March 12 at the request of Capitol Police in response to “different missions” that the troops will support. He said there isn’t a specific threat that the National Guard is tracking but the Pentagon will work with law enforcement agencies to evaluate any potential threats.

The Trump Organization appears to have taken notice of the chatter too. The Trump International Hotel in Washington has jacked up its room rates for March 3 and 4 by nearly $1,000, Forbes first reported. It was the only hotel in the nation’s capital to increase rates for those days — and has not increased them on surrounding days. The hotel similarly raised its prices dramatically for Jan. 5 and 6, the dates around the deadly Capitol riot.

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Followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which is effectively based on the fictitious idea that Trump is secretly fighting a satanic cabal of child-trafficking Democrats, have struggled to cope with President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Many of them had expected that Inauguration Day would bring “The Storm,” when, according to clues left by an anonymous message board poster known as “Q,” Trump would lead the National Guard in mass arrests of his political enemies.

The “storm” never came, leaving many to grapple with reality as Q stopped posting shortly after the election. Some QAnon followers have since hatched their own conspiracy theory, claiming that Trump will return for the “real” inauguration on March 4.
(Raw story)

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