Story and photo by Sgt. Logan Thomas
Last spring, the 1st Engineer Brigade installed artificial turf to augment their existing indoor physical training area. The turf spans the length of the area and allows Soldiers to conduct the Army Combat Fitness Test in any weather.
“We got the turf in April,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Thompson, 1st Engineer Brigade noncommissioned officer in charge of operations. “It took right around a week to put it in. Each of the four pieces weighed around 1,500 pounds.”
Thompson said that prior to the installation of the turf, the indoor area had a rubberized floor, but guidance put out by the Army states wood and rubberized surfaces are not permitted for indoor testing because they impact the speed of events, such as the sprint-drag-carry.
Army guidance states that each unit needs a designated ACFT testing site. To reduce risk of injury and prolong the life of ACFT equipment, it mandates that units conduct testing on grass or artificial turf only. However, training and demonstrations may be conducted on other surfaces.
According to Thompson, the indoor turf performs the same as grass but lowers the chances of slipping compared to using a field outside.
The training area can facilitate 16 lanes for the ACFT and gets year-round use as trainees from the 1st Engineer Brigade use it to conduct their final ACFT — and now other units without adequate facilities are utilizing the area.
Monday afternoon, Company A, 58th Transportation Battalion, used the training area.
“We conduct an ACFT every week,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Trottier, 58th Transportation Battalion noncommissioned officer in charge of operations. “But we don’t have our own permanent facility. We have been borrowing from everyone else.”
According to Trottier, a combination of rain and repeated use of grassy outdoor areas causes them to degrade, hindering performance.
“A lot of time, the fields that we have designated in our location — the weather turns it into a mud pit,” said Company A 1st Sgt. Antoine Smith. “With the turf here, it gives us the ability to do it rain, sleet, snow — it doesn’t matter.”
Additionally, the turf gives Soldiers the authorized surface they need to perform on the ACFT, Smith said.
“I know these students are fired up and ready to go about it — a lot of them are maxing their events,” he said. “This turf — it gives them the best opportunity to max any event they are taking, and that’s what is important.”