WASHINGTON — The same resources and expertise the Army is using to build high performing units and ready and resilient Soldiers can now be utilized by Soldiers, commanders and leaders in executing the Army Body Composition Program (ABCP) according to the updated version of Army Regulation 600-9.
The Army is incorporating tenets of the Performance Triad: sleep, activity, and nutrition, and the capabilities of Ready and Resilient (R2) Performance Centers and Army Wellness Centers in taking a holistic and proactive approach to Soldier readiness and body composition management.
Soldiers are being encouraged to take a proactive role in managing their mental and physical readiness. Under the updated regulation, individuals do not have to be referred to the centers or enrolled in the ABCP to take advantage of their course offerings and experts and those who fail the weight-to-height screen and are enrolled in the ABCP will receive the full support of these programs.
The primary objective of the ABCP is to ensure all Soldiers achieve and maintain optimal well-being and performance under all conditions. The Army often operates in a dangerous, complex, and stressful environment. To perform and succeed in these conditions, Soldiers must maintain a high level of mental and physical readiness.
Physical readiness is made up of an individual’s fitness, endurance and overall health. Body composition, measured by the weight-to height test, is a key indicator of physical readiness and can directly affect a Soldier’s ability to perform.
“Performance is highly dependent on the components of fitness and body composition is one of those components,” said Carrie Shult, the Army Public Health Center’s liaison to the SHARP, Ready and Resilient Directorate, DCS G1. “Individuals with desirable body fat percentages tend to exhibit increased physical strength and endurance and experience the lowest risks of injury, especially from weight bearing exercises. This directly impacts Soldier and unit readiness.”
The importance of a comprehensive approach to managing body composition is stressed in the regulation with the inclusion of several key programs and resources for commanders and leaders to utilize.
The Performance Triad promotes healthy lifestyle choices that combine the right amounts of sleep, activity, and nutrition to reach optimal performance and provide a foundation for a fit and ready force. Insomnia, which has been tied to weight gain, is up over 650% in the military since 2003, according to a study by the Sleep Research Society.
R2 Performance Centers, staffed by Master Resilience Trainers/ Performance Experts (MRT-PEs), offer individual and unit tailored human performance optimization and resilience training that enables Soldiers to improve performance and promote efficiency during physical training and sustain personal readiness. MRT-PEs can work directly with Soldiers to develop personalized training plans specific to their needs.
Army Wellness Centers (AWC), staffed with a full range of health educators, offer customized health coaching, advanced technology and standard instruction programs to support components of fitness.
Units can also utilize AWCs to support and enhance their physical fitness programs. Under the updated regulation, commanders can request assistance from the AWC in training designated personnel in proper height, weight and body circumference methodology to assess body fat composition, conducting weigh-ins and body fat assessments, developing physical fitness programs and provide coaching on a number of physical fitness programs ranging from healthy sleep, nutrition and weight management to proper exercise and fitness techniques.
The Army is directly affected by changes in the physical fitness, diet and nutrition habits of the greater U.S. population. A study by the Council for a Strong America found that approximately a third of young Americans are now too overweight to join the military.
“Recruiting and retaining Soldiers who are fit and ready to fight is not only imperative for the Army, it’s essential to the security of our Nation,” said Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Harvey, the SR2, DCS G1 Sergeant Major. “The ABCP assists leaders at all levels in meeting these goals.”
The updated version of AR 600-9, published on July 19, 2019, went into effect on Aug. 16, 2019.