Fitness initiative to get rigorous check-ups
The Army will be closely monitoring its Performance Triad program to ensure it is delivering on the promise of better performance through improved sleep, activity and nutrition.
“‘Can we implement it as planned’ and ‘will it be supportable in its current form’ are among the questions we’ll be asking,” said Lt. Col. Anne Andrews, the lead for Performance Triad’s evaluation and research at the Office of the Army Surgeon General.
The Army will also evaluate the Performance Triad program’s effect on the knowledge, attitude and behavior of Soldiers, she said.
The first pilot course for Performance Triad started Sept. 9, with 11 squad leaders from 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, participating in two weeks of training led by health and medical professionals from the Army Surgeon General’s office. Following their training, they will be responsible for imparting their knowledge on and mentoring their Soldiers over the course of 24 weeks.
Two other pilots are planned using the same schedule and instruction: one at Fort Bliss, Texas, involving Soldiers of 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry, beginning Sept. 30; and the other at Fort Bragg, N.C., with Soldiers of the 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, starting Oct. 28.
Once all the data and feedback are collected and reviewed, consolidated program recommendation for Army-wide implementation of Performance Triad will be delivered to the Army chief of staff and vice chief of staff in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2014.
There are several ways Performance Triad will be evaluated, Andrews said. Focus groups will discuss the pilots before and after the training. There will also be the usual evaluation tools that include Army physical fitness test scores as well as weight and body-fat measurements.
Military “Power, Performance and Prevention,” or MP3, tests will be administered as well. With MP3, the Army tests a Soldier’s flexibility, power, balance, strength and coordination with the goal of predicting the risk they might have for musculoskeletal injuries.
Soldiers will also be tested before and after using a not-yet Army-wide released version of the “ Global Assessment Tool 2,” which is similar to the current Global Assessment Tool, or GAT, but which now includes Performance Triad survey questions, Andrews said. In addition to GAT2, Soldiers will complete a knowledge and attitudes survey before and after the pilot which will help measure the effects of the Performance Triad.
Besides that there will be regular discussions with the Soldiers and unit leadership to get their feedback on how the program is doing.
“One of the things we’ll be looking at in the feedback is seeing what the co-worker effects are,” she said, explaining that these are secondary effects of the training Soldiers might provide to friends and family members.
Other aspects of the pilot program will be determine how well other programs like master fitness trainers, Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness programs, wellness centers and the medical community can be integrated with Performance Triad to increase its effectiveness, she added.
In addition to the pilots, a seven-year longitudinal study will be conducted with volunteers from the units in the pilot and other units from within the brigades, who will serve as comparisons. The study will provide additional data about health and physical performance outcomes. Also, cognitive performance will be measured using psychomotor vigilance testing, which looks at reaction times to see if improving activity, nutrition and sleep can provide improvements.
The studies will include statistical analysis of testing and the use of control groups. Control groups are other battalions that will receive some of the testing but not the Performance Triad training.
One of the most important but less glamorous parts of the program is the liaison efforts and coordination required for Performance Triad to succeed.
Division and higher levels of Army leadership require periodic in-briefs. Also, coordination between Army Medicine, U.S. Army Forces Command and the Office of the Army Surgeon General must take place, said Capt. Allison Carrillo, a medical services officer with Madigan Army Medical Center.
Carrillo, a self-described “fitness junky,” said she is very familiar with Performance Triad and is excited to be a part of its development. She added that she is confident the rollout will go smoothly because it has “a good operations plan.”