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The U.S. Army is introducing an extensive overhaul of its physical fitness test that, with minor changes, has mostly been the same since 1980.
By Stephen Carlson|July 11, 2018 at 5:26 PM
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Spc. Briceton Lowrie, with 2d Battalion, 198th Armored Regiment, conducts a dead lift during a pilot program for the Army Combat Fitness Test at Fort Bliss, Texas, on April 17, 2018. Photo by Sgt. Brittany Johnson/U.S. Army National Guard

July 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army is introducing an extensive overhaul of its physical fitness test that, with minor changes, has mostly been the same since 1980.

The new test, announced this week, changes the name from the Army Physical Fitness Test to the Army Combat Fitness Test and is planned to become gender and age neutral. It will include a series of physical events, while the APFT was a series of pushups, situps and a 2-mile run.

The new standards call for deadlift tests, throwing ten-pound balls for distance backwards, and hand-relaese pushups that require hands to be taken off the ground for greater muscle tension. It also includes sled drags to simulate casualties, sprints with 40-pound kettle bells, hanging from a pull-up bar with legs up and the standard 2-mile run.

"Throughout that research and testing, the goal was to provide our leaders with a tough, realistic, field-expedient assessment of the physical component of their soldiers' individual readiness," Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey said in a press release . "The ACFT is scientifically validated and will help better prepare our soldiers to deploy, fight and win on any future battlefield."

The current APFT has been in place with minor changes since 1980. It is currently divided along gender and age differences.

The new test will undergo a one-year field trial with around 60 battalions starting in October. There have been several plans to change the test for decades, and plans for the new version of the have been in progress for the last six years.

More than 2,000 soldiers have already taken the AFCT under testing the Army Training and Doctrine Command and the Forces Command .

According to the Army, the scoring would be similar to the old test, with 100 points per event and a maximum score of 600. Soldiers will also get more time between events to rest.

Soldiers are supposed to receive adequate time to recover from injuries, but new "deploy-or-be-removed" standards recently implemented will remain in effect.

As part of an effort to produce fitter soldiers, the Army is developing a Holistic Health and Fitness System, of which the APFT is one part.

"This is a generational, cultural change in fitness for the United States Army, and will be a cornerstone of individual soldier combat readiness," Army Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, commander of the Army's Center of Initial Military Training, told the Military Times . "That's how big this is for the Army."

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In his writing, he raged against the oppression of women and the tyranny of the Church and called for freedom from Ottoman rule.

"What he was doing was revolutionary and there were protests against it in the Arab world," says Juan Cole. "So he is viewed in Arabic literature as an innovator, not dissimilar to someone like WB Yeats in the West."

Political leaders considered his thoughts poisonous to young people and one of his books, Spirit Rebellious, was burnt in the market place in Beirut soon after it was published.

By the 1930s, Gibran had become a prominent and charismatic figure within the Lebanese community and New York literary circles.

But the success of his writing in English owes much to a woman called Mary Haskell, a progressive Boston school headmistress who became his patron and confidante as well as his editor.

Haskell supported him financially throughout his career until the publication of The Prophet in 1923.

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Their relationship developed into a love affair and although Gibran proposed to her twice, they never married.

Haskell's conservative family at that time would never have accepted her marrying an immigrant, says Jean Gibran, who married Kahlil Gibran's godson and his namesake and dedicated five years to writing a biography of the writer.

In their book, Jean Gibran and her late husband didn't shy away from the less favourable aspects of the Gibran's character. He was, they admit, known to cultivate his own celebrity.

He even went so far as to create a mythology around himself and made pretensions to a noble lineage.

But Jean Gibran says that he never claimed to be a saint or prophet. "As a poor but proud immigrant amongst Boston's elite, he didn't want people to look down on him. He was a fragile human being and aware of his own weaknesses."

But arguably for Gibran's English readers, none of this mattered much.

"I don't know how many people who picked up The Prophet, read it or gifted it, would actually know about Gibran the man or even want to know," says Dr Mohamed Salah Omri.

"Part of the appeal is perhaps that this book could have been written by anybody and that is what we do with scripture. It just is."

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