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GAT results to soon include fitness score

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Feb. 11, 2011) -- A Soldier's physical fitness numbers will soon be included as part of results given after taking the online "Global Assessment Tool."

The GAT is the part of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, or CSF, program that now measures a Soldier's fitness in four of the five dimensions that the CSF program focuses on: emotional, social, family and spiritual.

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"In the next few months it will also give you a physical score, because we are linking it with your PT test scores and your Public Health Command health assessment," said Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, director of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, during a media event Feb. 10, at the Pentagon. The fifth aspect of fitness measured by CSF is the physical dimension.

Cornum said there was no date yet for the inclusion of the new information in the GAT, but that such things as a Soldier's PT score and wellness assessments, including body fat, lipids and blood sugar might be included.

The Global Assessment Tool, or GAT, is a 105-question survey that assesses a Soldier in "four dimensions of strength," including emotional, social, spiritual and family. After taking the survey, Soldiers are offered an array of self-guided online courses that can help them strengthen themselves in those four areas

Since October 2009, Cornum said, more than 1.2 million Soldiers have taken the GAT online -- an annual requirement for Soldiers. More than 100,000 of those have completed the assessment twice.

Capt. Paul B. Lester, a research psychologist with the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, said there is "robust" ongoing evaluation of GAT results and that by late this summer the Army will have results that compare changes in GAT scores from a Soldier's first and second assessment. Those changes could be looked at as a measure of success of the CSF program.

As part of the CSF, mid-level noncommissioned officers are trained as Master Resilience Trainers, or MRTs. Those Soldiers return to their units to impart resilience in other Soldiers. To date, more than 3,000 Soldiers have received the training.

The Army now teaches the MRT course in Philadelphia, on the University of Pennsylvania campus there. The course is also taught to drill sergeants at "Victory University" at Fort Jackson, S.C., and through a mobile training team that travels to Soldiers to teach the course.

"(There's) just an overwhelming demand for these guys," said Cornum of the Soldiers that have been through the MRT course work. "When people get them they want more. They are really better at communicating with Soldiers. They are really -- they feel more comfortable as leaders."

Lt. Col. Sharon McBride, a psychologist and senior researcher with the CSF program, said that Soldiers who have taken the MRT course have come away impressed with the impact it has made.

"We survey people at the end of MRT course, and 95 percent or more say it is the best Army training that they've had," she said. "That's a continual number that we see every time we've run the course."

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