Testing infantry soldiers’ combat fitness

The standard combat fitness test, which must be completed in under 10.5 minutes, is a rather grueling experience in which soldiers must overcome several obstacles under considerable pressure.

By
July 31, 2013 03:57
2 minute read.
LT. YODAR SHAFRIR demonstrates the IDF’s combat fitness test.

IDF fitness test 370. (photo credit: YAAKOV LAPPIN)

 
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It’s a test all infantry brigade soldiers must pass before they become combat troops.

The standard combat fitness test, which must be completed in under 10.5 minutes, is a rather grueling experience in which soldiers must overcome several obstacles under considerable pressure.

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Surrounded by the bright yellow mounds of the Negev near the Nahal Brigade’s training base, Lt. Yodar Shafrir, the brigade’s combat fitness officer, passed through each obstacle under a hot sun on Monday.

The test must be completed while soldiers carry their firearms (in Nahal’s case, a Micro- Tavor assault rifle), as well as five ammunition clips and two water canteens, while wearing heavy boots.

With the temperature soaring in the mid-summer desert air, the last test was held hours ago in the morning, and won’t be resumed until after sunset, to avoid heat stroke and dehydration.

“The soldiers first try it a month and a half after commencing basic training. Those who fail try again, and those who pass can also do it again, to improve their grade,” Shafrir said.

Between 70 and 80 percent of soldiers pass on their first attempt.

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The exam begins with a 600 meter sprint, before the soldiers reach a high wall, and must surmount it with the help of a kick that sends them flying upward and over the obstacle.

“This is the hardest part,” Shafrir said, before sending himself hurtling over the wall.

“The test is supposed to simulate operations under pressure. The soldiers won’t do most of these things in a war, but this is designed to ensure that they can work well under pressure,” he added.

Additional obstacles include handlebars, monkey bars, rope climbing, crawling under a metallic low structure, and an obstacle one must jump over.

Relying on upper body muscle strength for rope climbing is a common error, Shafrir said, before demonstrating how to loop the rope around one’s feet while climbing.

Next came a tall wooden structure that requires considerable balance to cross.

After completing the last part of the test, running from one obstacle to the next, soldiers sprint 400 meters to cross the finish line.

“Last year, Nahal reached first place in test grades among infantry brigades,” Shafrir noted with pride. “Even if soldiers complete their basic and advanced training [a total of seven months], they cannot enter service until they complete this,” he added.

The IDF gives the soldiers plenty of opportunities to master the obstacle course – seven practice runs – before commencing the real test.

Shafrir walked away from the exercise ground, having broken into a sweat. The obstacles remained behind, shimmering in the sun, waiting for the next group of infantry soldiers to prove that their combat fitness levels are up to scratch.

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