YEAR IN REVIEW: Army augments readiness through strategy, exercise

US Army | Dec. 29, 2022

By Christopher Hurd, Army News Service

(Photo Credit: Courtesy photos, collage by Christopher Hurd )

WASHINGTON — Year in and year out, readiness is at the forefront of what the Army does. Throughout 2022, the service worked on its ability to “fight tonight,” while being prepared for the battlefield of tomorrow.

With the shifting focus from the Middle East to near-peer competition, the Army activated the 11th Airborne Division in Alaska. It also strengthened strategic partnerships during DEFENDER-Europe 22, outlined its climate strategy and launched the updated Army Combat Fitness Test.

Best Squad

Members of U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s 75th Ranger Regiment took home the top prize in the inaugural weeklong Best Squad competition. Top Soldiers and noncomissioned officers from around the world competed.

Teams were tested over several different fitness and combat-related events, including a 12-mile march, squad battle drills and individual warrior tasks. The top four teams then traveled to Washington, D.C. where they were evaluated on their knowledge and professionalism in front of Army leaders.

Congratulations to the winners:

  • Best Squad of the Year: U.S. Army Special Operations Command — Staff Sgt. Devon Simpson, Sgt. Jonathan Warren, Spc. Nathan Wallen, Spc. Jake Reichman, and Spc. Coy Anderson
  • Noncommisioned Officer of the Year: Sgt. Garrett Paulson
  • Soldier of the Year: Spc. Samuel Alavarez

DEFENDER-Europe 22

The multinational, joint exercise DEFENDER-Europe 22 took place across nine European countries throughout June. The large-scale exercise focused on building operational readiness and interoperability with NATO allies over a wide area of operations.

This year, Soldiers participated in multiple live fire exercises, ruck marches, and river crossings utilizing key ground and maritime routes. The exercise was geared toward military crisis response such as the potential invasion of a NATO partner.

Thousands of U.S. and multi-national service members from 11 partner nations took part in the exercise. The event demonstrated the Army’s ability to serve as a strategic security partner while maintaining normal operations across Europe and Africa.

Arctic Strategy

In June, the Army activated the 11th Airborne Division during ceremonies at Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, uniting almost 12,000 Soldiers in Alaska under one flag.

The activation comes on the heels of the Army’s commitment to its earlier announced Arctic Strategy, which outlined its plans to establish military dominance in the region.

The division will be headquartered at JBER, and members will wear the unit’s distinctive blue patch with a red and white emblem with angel wings.

Soldiers in the division will be equipped with cold-weather gear and serve as the Army’s leading experts for Arctic military operations.

The activation gives the Army a strategically-located unit that can quickly deploy to any region, especially those in cold weather climates.

Combating Climate Change

The Army released its first Climate Strategy in February, as the service adapts to extreme weather challenges.

The strategy outlines three lines of effort: enhancing installation resilience and sustainability, increasing the Army’s acquisition and logistics operational capability while strengthening climate resistance and training Soldiers to operate in a climate-altered world.

Army leaders hope that in turn, these efforts will boost Soldier and installation readiness and effectively build a multi-domain, sustainable land force.

The service released the follow-on Climate Change Implementation Plan later in the year.

ACFT Kickoff

The Army Combat Fitness Test went live Oct. 1 for Regular Army and Active Guard Reserve Soldiers. The ACFT includes six events: the three-repetition maximum deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release pushups, plank, 2-mile run, and the sprint, drag and carry. The plank exercise is a new edition replacing the leg-tuck assessment.

The Army also announced new age-and-gender-performance scoring scales that are based off ACFT diagnostic test scores, historical data from the Army Physical Fitness Test and scoring from other services.

Regular Army and Active Guard Reserve Soldiers have until April 2023 to complete the test. The scores will be used for retention, graduation of initial military training, professional military education and evaluations.

Army Reserve and Army National Guard Soldiers will begin testing in April 2023 with a deadline of April 2024 for ACFT completion.

The service will continue to assess performance data including scores, pass rates, injuries and environmental considerations.

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