U.S. Army Physical Demands Study: Reliability of Simulations of Physically Demanding Tasks Performed by Combat Arms Soldiers

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Abstract

Foulis, SA, Redmond, JE, Frykman, PN, Warr, BJ, Zambraski, EJ, and Sharp, MA. U.S. Army physical demands study: reliability of simulations of physically demanding tasks performed by combat arms soldiers. J Strength Cond Res 31(12): 3245–3252, 2017—Recently, the U.S. Army has mandated that soldiers must successfully complete the physically demanding tasks of their job to graduate from their Initial Military Training. Evaluating individual soldiers in the field is difficult; however, simulations of these tasks may aid in the assessment of soldiers' abilities. The purpose of this study was to determine the reliability of simulated physical soldiering tasks relevant to combat arms soldiers. Three cohorts of ∼50 soldiers repeated a subset of 8 simulated tasks 4 times over 2 weeks. Simulations included: sandbag carry, casualty drag, and casualty evacuation from a vehicle turret, move under direct fire, stow ammunition on a tank, load the main gun of a tank, transferring ammunition with a field artillery supply vehicle, and a 4-mile foot march. Reliability was assessed using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), standard errors of measurement (SEMs), and 95% limits of agreement. Performance of the casualty drag and foot march did not improve across trials (p > 0.05), whereas improvements, suggestive of learning effects, were observed on the remaining 6 tasks (p ≤ 0.05). The ICCs ranged from 0.76 to 0.96, and the SEMs ranged from 3 to 16% of the mean. These 8 simulated tasks show high reliability. Given proper practice, they are suitable for evaluating the ability of Combat Arms Soldiers to complete the physical requirements of their jobs.

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