WASHINGTON — Just one year after the Army first implemented the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, its director is impressed with the number of Soldiers who have participated in the program and with how many have said it is effective.
The CSF program was designed to enhance the “five dimensions of strength” -- the physical, emotional, social, familial and spiritual, said BG Rhonda Cornum, the program’s director. She has also said she hopes the Army will come to culturally view mental toughness in the same way it expects physical toughness.
Modeled after the University of Pennsylvania’s “Penn Resilience Program,” the CSF program is based on 30 years of scientific study. The program uses individual assessments, classroom and online training, as well as embedded “master resiliency trainers” to help Soldiers develop their own personal resilience. Today, the Army has well over 2,000 such trainers spread throughout eight brigades.
BG Cornum said the field has been “overwhelmingly positive” about wanting more of those trainers, because Soldiers feel the program has been helpful in bettering their lives. She also said the program is working to develop more master resilience trainers. “I think fine-tuning is what we’re doing this year, offering more things and by this time next year I’ll have more than 6,000 master resilience trainers — that’s a pretty significant bunch of noncommissioned officers, at least one per battalion,” she said. “The program will continue to evolve and out to the operational force with real emphasis on getting it to the place where we think it will be most effective — the young and junior people.”
Also part of the CSF program is the “global assessment tool.” The “GAT” is an online assessment of mental well-being, designed to help takers determine their strengths and weaknesses. Soldiers, Family members and even Army civilians can complete the 105-question GAT in about 20 minutes, and then learn what online training they will need to take to help improve in their weak areas.
A Soldier might be assessed in the middle 50 percent of the “social dimension,” for instance. Following his assessment, he’d be assigned individual-development instruction to help him improve in that area.
“If you score in the top 25 percent, you probably actually have these skills, so the training will teach you how to teach it to others and how those kind of skills affect your organization,” BG Cornum said.
The training that follows taking the GAT is designed to help Soldiers improve their skills in decision making, prioritization and communication. It’s also designed to help Soldiers take more responsibility for their own outcomes in all different facets of life.
BG Cornum said more than 850,000 Soldiers, Family members and civilians have used the GAT to help understand the stressors in their lives and how to build resilience. Additionally, more than 100,000 have participated in the online training that follows the GAT.
BG Cornum also reiterated that CSF will be an ongoing assessment program and said it would probably be another nine months before Soldiers complete a second assessment from which the Army can draw a comparison on training effectiveness.
Army Family members and Army civilians may also take advantage of the global assessment tool tailored to them specifically and enroll in online courses at: http://www.army.mil/csf/.