An army member demonstrates a plank at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.Photo: CNA

ENHANCING STRENGTH: The military is following US army standards to improve conditioning for infantry tasks and bolster the fitness of its troops, defense officials said

By Su Po-chuan and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter with staff writer and CNA

The army yesterday introduced changes to military physical fitness standards across the armed forces to take effect next year.

The fitness evaluations include planking, slow push-ups, dumbbell lifting, crunching, sit-and-reach, back-scratch and a 10km march, army officers told a news conference at the Ministry of National Defense headquarters.

These tests are to complement current fitness trials — which include sit-ups, push-ups and a 3km run — and are to take effect on Dec. 1 next year, they said.

The new tests were created by the Army Infantry Training Command in consultation with the National Sports Training Center to modernize fitness training in the military, said Major General Liu Shen-mo (劉慎謨), director of the Military Training Division’s Office of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff for Training.

The fitness assessments are based on US Army standards, he added.

Tank loaders need arm strength to load shells into their vehicles, while cardiovascular fitness and core conditioning are required for infantry tasks such as shooting and changing posture, he said.

The army’s fitness reform also introduces exercises that reduce injuries and incorporates advances in civilian sport science, National Sports Center sports science division head Wu Po-han (吳柏翰) said.

The US Army has adopted planking as a substitute for sit-ups, while the US Navy has incorporated aerobic test options including running, rowing and swimming, he said, adding that Taiwan’s military is to follow the US in utilizing these activities in fitness programs.

The military has over the past two years certified more than 3,400 service members as instructors in physical training, sports science, swimming and martial arts in an effort to improve soldier training, said Colonel Hsiao Chia-ming (蕭嘉銘) of the Army Infantry Training Command’s sports science promotion center.

Separately, the ministry’s plans to lengthen conscription are not ready to be publicly released, ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang (孫立方) said, citing the need for officials to calibrate the policy to meet requirements for the nation’s defense and laws.

Additional reporting by Aaron Tu