OPAT raises the bar on physical readiness of recruits

Mar 14, 2017

Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy McGuire

State Public Affairs Office

Do you think you have what it takes to be an infantryman in the Wyoming Army National or are you better suited to be a personnel clerk? The Army’s new fitness test for recruits may hold the answer.

In January Wyoming became the first state to administer the new Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, to National Guard recruits.

The four-event test provides measurements of upper- and lower-body muscular strength, endurance, power output, and aerobic capacity. It consists of the seated power throw, strength deadlift, interval aerobic run and standing long jump. Passing OPAT scores are linked to one of four color-coded physical demand categories, black, gray, gold or white, for each job in the Army.

 

 

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According to Lt. Col. Bruce Delaporte, who took command of the WyARNG’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion last August, the OPAT is designed to be used as a tool to predict individual performance on the physical demand tasks of soldiers, and is intended to improve readiness and accession quality while decreasing injuries and attrition.

“It’s meant to help the Army select the right soldier for the right job,” Delaporte explained. “OPAT is to physical as the (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is to cognitive or (Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System), is to non-cognitive.”

OPAT was rolled out Army-wide in January, and is administered to every new soldier, both enlisted and commissioned, at Recruit Sustainment Program sites before they go to initial entry training and advanced initial training. OPAT standards are not adjusted for age or gender, and the test is the same for active duty and National Guard soldiers. Soldiers reclassifying into jobs requiring a heavier physical demand than their current job, will also have to meet the OPAT standard for the new position.

Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Worley, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion’s south team, learned how to administer the test and to train others to do the same. “We tested 46 RSP members in January and it went per plan; I think we had four unqualified,” Worley said of the initial test. “We do it every month during RSP drill weekends or at home station. If they can’t score high enough for their chosen field, they will be given another MOS that they qualify for through their ASVAB and OPAT level.”

Delaporte was very familiar with OPAT when he took command here following a long tour at National Guard Bureau; he was the point of contact at that organization to roll out OPAT across the Army National Guard.

Recently he had 40 Wyoming Army National Guard senior leaders and commanders take an OPAT for familiarization.

“The leadership event was an orientation to the OPAT so the commanders would be aware of the challenges faced in the current recruiting environment,” Delaporte explained. “As many people know, athleticism and physical health has been in a decline in our youth. This test helps prepare those personnel for the rigors of MOS training prior to getting to the training center and helps the Army reduce injuries by ensuring personnel are physically prepared for the training.”

The leadership familiarization came with an enthusiastic nudge from Command Sgt. Maj. Harold Pafford, the Wyoming Army National Guard command sergeant major, who has made improving physical readiness a priority.

“I wanted all the senior leaders to do the test, not just have it demonstrated, and I think it opened some eyes as to what our soldiers need to do,” Pafford said. “I think this is a great idea for the Army. We’re not sending soldiers (to initial training) that can’t make it. It sets the standard right off the bat and can help us change the culture of physical fitness in the National Guard.”

Lt. Col. Terry Jenkins, officer in charge of the Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery, participated in the leadership familiarization and thinks the test has its merits.

“I thought it was a valuable tool to assess the physical requirements needed in the combat arms MOS’s,” Jenkins said. “If you can’t meet these simple standards—then you probably shouldn’t go to that MOS, and then reassess your options.”

 

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