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Military Fit -

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There are plenty of factors to consider before a soldier is deployed to a war zone, but good
preparation, particularly physical fitness, is paramount. All soldiers have a good level of basic
fitness, but until now soldiers haven't been physically tested for the on-the-job skills most
required by a modern army. Dr Maryanne Demasi joins soldiers in Townsville on a new series of tests
that will ensure they are fit for the job.

NARRATION

In the 21st century war is waged in many ways... Soldiers have to be skilled and fit for different
roles. The fact remains however that any of these troops could be confronted with conditions that
test their fitness to the max.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

It's 0600 hrs and I'm here at the army barracks in Townsville. These troops are trialling a new and
gruelling fitness test to see if they have what it takes to be deployed to a war zone.

Brigadier Stuart Smith AM

We're excited about this current trial in physical fitness because it enables us to prepare
soldiers for exactly the type of jobs that they may do in operations. By not making it gender
specific, by not making it age specific we're encouraging them to move together as a team and
conduct the test.

NARRATION

In 2006, The Australian Defence Force commissioned a team of researchers to analyse the science
behind the physical demands of army jobs.

Dr Dan Billing

We looked at the basic physical requirements that every soldier should be able to achieve.

NARRATION

Dr Dan Billing, and colleagues from the University of Wollongong videoed soldiers in the field.
They used portable measurement devices to quantify the physiological demands of each task.

Dr Dan Billing

This system measures the concentration of inspired and expired air as the soldier is performing the
various tasks. We can determine the oxygen consumption. This system here that I've just fitted is a
physiological monitor developed specifically for military purposes and it allows us to measure
respiratory rate, skin temperature, heart rate and also core body temperature.

NARRATION The results were analysed, and four fitness tests which simulate fundamental army skills
were devised. These soldiers from the Health Company are about to trial the tests for the first
time. Sergeant Sarah Brennan and Captain Thomas van Heumen are from the dental corps.

Dr Maryanne Demasi So do you think trialling this new fitness test will be relevant to your job?

Sergeant Sarah Brennan

Oh absolutely um within the Army we're all still soliders even though we maintain our individual
role. We're still soldiers so we need to be able to have a basic fitness level.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

Do you think you have an advantage over the girls?

Captain Thomas van Heumen

Um possibly, I mean we do probably have a bit more muscle.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

You've got a height advantage.

Sergeant Sarah Brennan

Heights going to be probably the most disadvantage for us today.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

Well best of luck guys.

Captain Thomas van Heumen

Thank you.

Sergeant Sarah Brennan

Thank you.

NARRATION

And the tests have to be executed wearing full fighting load.

Dr Dan Billing

So combat body armour the helmet which weighs 9.3kg, the webbing which you have around the side
here which weighs 8.3kg and finally the weapon which weighs 4kg.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

So what does it total?

Dr Dan Billing:

21.6kg

Dr Maryanne Demasi:

Wow I'd be lucky to get one test done with this on.

NARRATION

Physical training instructor Steven Gibbs prepares the soldiers for the first test.

Dr Dan Billing

Five kilometre force march in fighting load which is designed to mimic the aerobic endurance
requirements from patrolling to sandbagging and digging to repetitive manual handling.

NARRATION

Brigadier Smith leads by example.

Brigadier Stuart Smith AM

The feedback that I've received is that they are very appreciative that it is now a more relevant
test to the types of jobs that they're encountering. They see it as a positive approach to building
up their own fitness.

Dr Dan Billing

This is a muscular strength test requiring the soldiers to lift an ammunition can from the ground
up onto the back of a 150 centimetre common military platform.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

The current fitness test that we have at the moment tests general fitness however this fitness
assessment is what soldiers could be exposed to out in the field.

Dr Dan Billing

This is a test of the anaerobic energy system. It requires a soldier from a prone firing position
to get up quickly and run 30 metres within nine seconds. They then have 35 seconds rest and they'll
return to the prone firing position and run 30 metres again. They'll repeat this five times.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

This is the last activity that measures muscular endurance - it simulates stretcher carrying out in
the field, and it's really tough.

Dr Dan Billing

It requires the soldiers to carry two 25 kilogram jerry cans a total distance of 275 metres. And
they'll do 11 repeat increments of 25 metres to obtain that 275 metre distance.

Brigadier Stuart Smith AM

The beauty of being physically fit when you go on operations is it actually helps your
psychological fitness as well. If you've been pushed to the limit in some of the physical tests and
training that we do then when you are stressed in high heat environments, when you are carrying
lots of equipment from point A to point B then you're mentally prepared for that.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

How are you feeling?

Sergeant Sarah Brennan

It was hard, it wasn't necessarily the weight, it was holding onto it it was keeping your grip all
the way... not sure if I did make it... glad it's over.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

Well done. Now you can rest... have a drink!

Dr Dan Billing

The testing is, is around a risk assessment tool. It operates like a traffic light system. If you
can pass all, all the tests you're green, you're good to go. If you fail one for instance, you
might be amber. And you go into remedial physical conditioning work and then build up to pass the
test in, in a period of time. If it's a red light then it's our obligation to, to give them the
appropriate conditioning to be able to pass the tests. What we want to do is insure that the
soldiers' physical capabilities are matched to the task. So in doing so what we'll achieve there is
reducing injuries and improving safety on the job.

NARRATION

With over 100 army occupations to assess the research and trial testing will continue over the next
few years, but Brigadier Smith can already see the advantages of 'fit for the job' testing.

Brigadier Stuart Smith AM:

To prepare soldiers for the types of battles that they may encounter on operations. They need to
understand the equipment that they're going to work with. They need to be able to work in teams,
understand the strengths or weaknesses of the people that they're working around and this actual
trial works specifically on the physical and the mental preparation of the soldiers. It's a great
step towards preparing our soldiers for the types of jobs that they may do. Particularly on the
types of operations that we've experienced thus far.