Introducing FORCE Combat: The new operational fitness objective for the Canadian Army

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By Major Krzysztof Stachura and Dr. Tara Reilly

Physical fitness is an integral component of military service and Canadian Army (CA) soldiers must be physically fit. Strength and endurance could mean the difference between success and failure in a military operation.

The CA has traditionally used a load-bearing march, familiar to most as the Battle Fitness Test (BFT), as the accepted physical fitness Individual Battle Task Standard (IBTS) and originally designed to ensure CA soldiers are physically prepared for Land Operations.

While the current and familiar FORCE evaluation was being developed, Human Performance Research and Development (HPR&D) was monitoring and evaluating the physical demands of typical CA operational tasks conducted in various environments. The conclusion: the BFT no longer had broad operational relevance for the CA and a new CA physical fitness IBTS needed to be developed.

The result is FORCE Combat; the most comprehensive and scientifically validated physical fitness IBTS ever developed for the CA.

FORCE Combat represents an evolution of the existing IBTS based on modern and relevant CA operational tasks observed over the last 15 years.

Research was conducted by PSP and the CA to validate the transition from the old to the new IBTS. For example, trials were performed to determine the optimum number of practice attempts to account for the initial learning curve associated with the new evaluation (three times). The training program developed for those who were originally unable to complete FORCE Combat was also validated with great success (all participants who followed the program successfully achieved the new IBTS). Field trials in various locations in Canada have resulted in the development of scientifically validated tools and resources to help CA soldiers achieve the new standard and maintain a level of physical fitness that allows them to thrive and succeed during modern operations.

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Related Links

FORCE Combat
Canadian Armed Forces Personnel Support Programs
Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre
Combat Training Centre

Image gallery

  • A uniformed soldier carrying a weapon and wearing a blue mask with a white hose coming from his left is connected to a computer, while he is standing on a treadmill. A woman monitors him from the right.
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