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Cadet Charles Black Jr. starts the strength deadlift component of the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) at Fort Knox, KY. June 9, 2021 | Photo by Rachael Kocour, CST Public Affairs Office

On June 9, 2021, 2nd regiment Cadets completed the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) at Advanced Camp 2021. The OPAT consists of four different events: Strength Deadlift, Standing Long Jump, Seated Power Throw, and Interval Aerobic Run. Cadets must pass all four events of the OPAT while attending Advanced Camp.

Capt. Stephen Paniati usually works as an assistant professor of military science at George Mason University in Virginia, but he currently serves as Cadre for the 2nd regiment during Advanced Camp. Paniati said the OPAT, “ tests the base level fitness of an individual looking to commission in the United States Army.” 

Before Cadet Summer Training (CST) 2021, the OPAT was not the primary physical fitness test that Cadets were graded on at Advanced Camp. However, because the Army is in the middle of transitioning to the next iteration of the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), they are using the OPAT temporarily to assess and grade Cadets on their physical fitness. 

Cadre brief Cadets on the different tasks they will accomplish during the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) at Fort Knox, KY. June 9, 2021 | Photo by Rachael Kocour, CST Public Affairs Office

Master Sgt. Jarrod Phillips, who is a 2nd regiment Cadre for Bravo Company, elaborated on this by saying, “In previous years, we have done the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) and we were supposed to transition to the Army Combat Fitness Test, however, that was put on hold to do some more testing and diagnostics… [The Army] decided that the best way to measure their endurance and have a physical assessment on them was to do the OPAT.” 

Cadets will take the ACFT while at Advanced Camp, though the scores will not count or reflect negatively on them whatsoever.

Throughout the year, Phillips serves as a senior military instructor at Southern Illinois University, so he has played a role in preparing Cadets for this test. “Hopefully most [of the Cadets] had the opportunity while they were on their campuses to at least get a baseline for where they were at, and be able to improve before they got here,” said Phillips.

Cadet Lashanda Shepherd, from the University of Kentucky, trained for the OPAT and ACFT with her ROTC program, however, she took it upon herself to work outside of her program’s designated physical training time. 

Cadets participate in the interval aerobic run component of the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) at Fort Knox, KY. June 9, 2021 | Photo by Rachael Kocour, CST Public Affairs Office

She says, “I think this training can be hard if you’re not prepared for it mentally and physically; I also think it’s good to prepare yourself before coming… every day [before arriving at Advanced Camp] I ran two miles, I went to the gym and made sure that I lifted anything above 120 pounds.” 

Shepherd’s initiative and determination will help her succeed at Advanced Camp, and ultimately, on her path to becoming an Army Officer. Not only that, but her positive outlook and grit may very well inspire her fellow Cadets to push themselves, too.

Supporting the Cadets of 2nd regiment has proved to be a very rewarding experience for Paniati, “I think it should be highlighted how impressive it is that Cadets have gone through a year of pandemic… but they are still willing to come out and bring a positive attitude to it and really bring their best to succeed. I am excited for them.”