Army Studies New Way To Test Ability To Perform Jobs - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Army Studies New Way To Test Ability To Perform Jobs

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(KCEN) -- Fort Hood soldiers are the subjects in a study that will soon change Army standards.

Once the research is complete, the force will be able to measure and test the specific, physical demands of each job for the first time.

This comes as women are integrated into some combat roles formerly only open to male soldiers.

“So long as their competent, it doesn't matter to me what gender they are,” says Sergeant 1st Class Mario Gonzales, an engineer who volunteered for the study.

Sergeant Ashley Morris is another one of 500 willing soldiers randomly selected to take part in the project, which will help the Army ensure that the right soldier ends up in the right Military Occupational Specialty, (MOS).

She and her comrades move in groups from station to station, performing challenges, known as tasks, that test things like, strength, agility, and endurance.

“It's demanding, but it's not impossible,” Morris says.

She and other female soldiers are held to the same standards as the men.

“We don't want to put a female soldier in a situation where they're going to be destined to fail,” says Dr. Edward Zambraski with the Army Medical Command’s Military Performance Division.

His team was ordered by the Army and Army Training Doctrine Command, (TRADOC), to conduct the research.

Dr. Zambraski says one thing they’ve learned so far is that some of the smallest female soldiers turn out to be mightier than expected.

So far, Morris has been victorious on every task.

“I've been able to do them all,” she says.

But Dr. Zambraski says the effort isn't just about gender.

Muscular skeletal injuries are the most common in the Army, and injuries mean weaker, incomplete units, and in some case, lifelong pain and medical care.

In addition, as the Army draws down, it can be more selective.

The tasks simulate real demands of specific MOS’s, so that they can be used to test new recruits who will likely have no prior knowledge of military equipment.

For example, a soldier might have to drag a heavy dummy across a predetermined distance, put a 100 lb. object on a 6 ft. shelf, or sprint through an agility course.

If a person scores below certain thresholds, it indicates that they may not by physiologically equipped to perform a duty.

“We're trying to put this all together now, so that we can validate and can say, if you want to join the Army, you do this series of tests, and if you get these scores, you look like a good candidate to be an engineer or an infantryman,” says Dr. Zambraski, listing off examples of MOS’s.

The goal is to make sure every member of the Army body is, for lack of a better term, the best that it can be.

“And that's what we're hoping to see,” says Gonzales.

It’s focusing on acquiring 20/20 vision on physical aptitude by the year 2020.

This is the second and final week for this phase of the study on Fort Hood.

The first was identifying tasks for each job, and third step is data collection.

The results could be presented to TRADOC in three to four months.

Reporter: Sophia Stamas

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