When you wanted to enter a certain military occupational specialty (MOS) in the United States Army, you simply took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and met medical standards and you would be granted the opportunity to train for that particular MOS if openings were available.
Times have recently changed.
The United States Army wants to ensure that soldiers are physically capable to meet the demands of the MOS they have chosen.
Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT)
From April of 2016, recruits entering the Army will be given the OPAT.
Also, any soldiers wanting to change their MOS will also have to take the OPAT unless the new MOS has the same rating or lower.
The Army has instituted this to be able to predict a person’s ability to perform the physical duties of their chosen MOS.
How was the OPAT developed?
The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) worked jointly with the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT) to develop OPAT.
Using over 2,000 test subjects, they replicated the physical demands of the various military occupational specialties and to deem the level of physical endurance needed for each job.
Each MOS is deemed one of three categories:
- Black = Heavy
- Gray = Significant
- Gold = Moderate
- White = Unqualified
Black requires frequent lifting and moving of 99 pounds or more.
Gray requires frequent lifting and moving of 41-99 pounds, and occasional lifting up to 100 pounds.
Gold requires frequent or constant lifting and moving of up to 40 pounds.
If a soldier hits white, they can retake the test or negotiate to get into a Gold rated MOS.
What the OPAT consists of
When a recruit takes the OPAT, they will do 4 physical tests:
- The standing long jump
- The seated power throw
- The strength dead-lift
- The interval aerobic run
I will take you through each test, explaining how it works and what you need to score for each level.
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Standing long jump
This is to assess lower body strength.
You will stand behind a line with your feet parallel.
You can rock your toes and feet, but they cannot leave the ground until you jump.
You will swing your arms in a pendulum motion and bend at the knees and hips.
When ready, you will launch yourself and after landing, you cannot move your feet.
If you fall, you will have to repeat the jump.
You can do 2 practice jumps, and you will then do 3 recorded jumps.
The measurement is from the takeoff line to the heel of the foot closest to the takeoff line.
- Black – 5 feet and 3 inches minimum
- Gray – 4 feet and 7 inches minimum
- Gold – 3 feet and 11 inches minimum
Seated power throw
This is to assess upper body power.
You sit on a floor with your lower back against a yoga block and upper back against a wall; head cannot touch the wall.
Holding a medicine ball with both hands.
When told to go, you pull the ball back to your chest and push with both arms launching the ball at a 45 degree angle for the most distance.
The measurement is from the wall to where the ball lands.
You can have 2 practice throws and then 3 recorded throws.
- Black – 14 feet and 9 inches minimum
- Gray – 13 feet and 1 inch minimum
- Gold – 11 feet and 6 inches minimum
This is to assess lower body strength.
You will start with just the bar and do 3 check dead-lifts.
These are to make sure you are using proper form.
You stand inside the bar with your feet at shoulder width.
You bend at the knees and hips and grab the bar with your arms fully extended and at your sides.
When told to lift, you lift by extending your knees and hips until locked.
When told down, you will lower the weights in a controlled manner.
You will proceed to do 8 levels starting at 120 pounds to 220 pounds.
Between each lift, you can take up to a 1 minute rest.
If you fail a lift, you can rest 1 minute and try again.
- Black – 160 pounds
- Gray – 140 pounds
- Gold – 120 pounds
Interval aerobic run
This is to assess the person’s aerobic ability.
It will be done in square measuring 20 meters long by 2 meters wide.
Starting at one end of the length (20 meters) you will wait for the beep.
At first you run slowly reaching the other end before the beep.
When the next beep comes, you run to the other end before the next beep.
The beeps will slowly get faster meaning you have to run faster.
If you are slower than the beep you will receive a warning.
If you get to the next one before the beep, the warning will disappear.
If you get 3 warnings, your test is done.
- Black – Running a 10:14 mile over a minimum of 43 runs
- Gray – Running a 10:20 mile over a minimum of 40 runs
- Gold – Running a 10:27 mile over a minimum of 36 runs
Black Military Occupational Specialties
These MOS’ will require you to score in the Black, or heavy on OPAT:
- 11B – Infantry
- 11C – Indirect Fire Infantry
- 11X – Infantry Recruit
- 12B – Combat Engineer
- 12C – Bridge Crew Member
- 12D – Diver
- 12P – Prime Power Production Specialist
- 13B – Cannon Crew Member
- 13F – Joint Fire Support Specialist
- 15V – Observation or Scout Helicopter Repairer
- 15Y – AH-64D Armament Systems Repairer
- All 18’s – Special Forces
- 19D – Cavalry Scout
- 19K – M1 Armor Crewman
- 88H – Cargo Specialist
- 88K – Watercraft Operator
- 88M – Motor Transport Operator
- 92M – Mortuary Affairs Specialist
So if you are desiring any of these Military Occupational Specialties, you will have to get top scores.
I will not list the lower ones.
Your recruiter can explain those to you.
All of these tests are the same for male and female.
The Army put this into the entry to make sure recruits would be placed in positions where they would be competent.
Can you study for these tests?
Sure, you should exercise and possibly even practice each OPAT test before you go in to take it.
When I look at the qualifications, they do not seem outrageously difficult.
So what are your thoughts?
Do you believe the OPAT will help get people in the jobs they are most suited for?
The OPAT is designed to be gender-neutral, allowing for women to attain positions that were closed to them in the past. It is a test that will establish a baseline fitness profile for recruits that doesn’t discriminate based on age and gender.
Leave your comments and questions below.
“It is designed to put the right people in the right jobs and to ensure we keep our recruits safe while doing so.” Brian Sutton: spokesman for Army Recruiting Command
Former Army Major (resigned)
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