FORT EUSTIS – The recently updated physical readiness training mobile app will give Soldiers a leg up on their Army Combat Fitness Test preparations while providing a secure platform for storage of performance scores and other data.
Downloadable to smartphones or other internet-connected devices, the free Army PRT App offers a streamlined collection of exercises, helps users calculate test scores and lays out unique physical training templates tailored for each Soldier’s fitness demands, according to Lt. Col. David Feltwell, Center for Initial Military Training physical therapist and one of many ACFT developers.
The Army has been improving upon the PRT App since its initial launch in 2014. The latest update better aligns it with current physical training doctrine, Feltwell said. The modernized, officially branded Army app comes amidst the two-year ACFT pilot test, which is in its second phase of implementation.
Approved by the Department of Defense, the revamped PRT App includes doctrinal products validated by Army officials. It is designed to improve physical performance and control any potential negative outcomes of physical training, such as injuries.
“It delivers on all fronts of physical training,” Feltwell confirmed. “It gives Soldiers information to implement a physical readiness training program regarding all ACFT events by scoring, executing and helping administer the six events.”
The PRT tutorials include walk-through videos – performed by Army drill sergeants – that will educate users on how to perform each movement correctly. “For example, if someone needs to work on their leg tucks, or if they’ve never done them before, the app has specific programs available to help them score 100 points on the event,” Feltwell said.
“There are potentially millions of different fitness solutions to accommodate the majority of Soldiers,” he added. “Whether they are doing well in terms of physical performance, or they’re beginners.”
Each exercise was handpicked and scientifically verified by CIMT professionals. The science behind the ACFT helps Soldiers avert musculoskeletal injuries and stay combat ready.
In addition to training templates and instructions, the app is fitted to give users an opportunity to customize their exercises with minimal equipment, but Feltwell said, the app is not meant to replace face-to-face coaching.
“Being in the presence of someone who’s an expert, and learning from them directly, has a much greater impact on improving a Soldier’s fitness,” he emphasized.
Combined with physical training improvement, cyber security is another important argument for Soldiers to use the official Army PRT App. Unofficial third-party apps could provide avenues for nefarious actors to steal user’s data. This potential security breach is especially dangerous when Soldiers upload personal information such as their military occupational specialty, location and overall physical fitness level.
These potential cyber threats are continuously faced by professionals at the Army University Mobile Division, the official office of Army mobile application development.
“The Mobile Division is the source of all electronic platforms in the Army. We make sure the applications are secure, the code cannot be hacked, and Soldiers’ data, whereabouts and personal information are safe,” said Matt MacLaughlin, Directorate of Distributed Learning - Army University Mobile Division chief.
“Any mobile application using, accessing or creating Army data must be tested and approved before it will be permitted to operate on (the Department of Defense Information Network),” MacLaughlin said.
At the Mobile Division, MacLaughlin and other professionals provide full-cycle capability on the requirements, development, testing, distribution and sustainment of their products, including the updated Army PRT App.
Although cyber security has been a top priority, the updated PRT App comes after the Army banned TikTok – a popular video-sharing app owned by the Chinese – from government devices. This signaled increased concern about possible security risks related to mobile apps.
Since 2013, the MobDiv has worked alongside the Defense Information Systems Agency to properly vet Army apps through senior officials for approval and branding. According to MacLaughlin, they have created more than 750 mobile apps and 23 mobile publications across the Defense Department.
“The Army recognizes the importance of creating a Physical Readiness Training app that gives Soldier’s another reference point to access anytime, anywhere,” said Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, commander of the Army Center for Initial Military Training. “Soldiers are our greatest asset, and we at CIMT kept their safety and operational security as our highest priority in developing this application,”
The Army PRT app is currently available on Google Play, Apple and other app stores. Individuals are encouraged to search “Army PRT” and look for the official Army logo at the bottom right of the icon.
Despite the fact that the six-event ACFT will supersede the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, the new app still lets users digitally calculate their APFT test scores while it’s the official test of record.