About the FORCE Program
1. What is the FORCE Program?
In English, the FORCE acronym stands for: “Fitness for Operational Requirements of CAF Employment”.
The FORCE Program has three components:
This includes the following four components:
These components are linked to the Common Military Tasks Fitness Evaluation (CMTFE) and used to predict one’s ability to meet or exceed the minimal physical demands of military service.
- 20 m Rushes
- Sandbag Lift
- Intermittent Loaded Shuttles
- Sandbag Drag
CAF personnel can compare results to their peers of the same sex and 5 year age increment using the FORCE Fitness Profile, which has 2 axis:
- Total number of points from the age and sex based scores for the 4 FORCE components.
Individual CAF or aggregate results are plotted on the FORCE Fitness profile and allow for a quick way to visualize the general health and fitness using the various coloured zones.
- Combination of age and sex based scores for aerobic capacity and waist circumference. Unlike Operational Fitness, Health-Related Fitness is for informational purposes only, and it will not have a negative impact on career progression.
This includes physical fitness programs created by qualified PSP Fitness Staff, or physical fitness programs generated from DFit.ca that are designed to prepare CAF personnel for the physical rigors of operations. It also includes Unit PT and programs provided by Health Promotion.
C. Fitness and Wellness Participation
This consist of active participation in the programs mentioned above or any other program that involves physical fitness and that benefits CAF personnel.
It is the responsibility of all CAF personnel and their respective Chains of Command to ensure and encourage participation in the programs provided. There is a wealth of knowledge and information freely available to members of the CAF.
This is supported by the CDS Guidance (2017), which states that, “COs and their leadership teams foster the resilience of their personnel by promoting physical fitness, mental preparation and trust”. The same guidance mentioned that “Fitness, nutrition, and rest help to reduce stress”.
CO’s and their leadership teams are responsible for promotion of health and physical fitness within their Units. They will vigorously promote physical activity, recreation and sports, and actively support CAF injury prevention, addiction awareness and prevention, nutrition and social wellness programs.
Within the CAF, participation in physical fitness activities has been identified as a tangible measure of leadership, both individually and collectively.
2. What does the FORCE Evaluation consist of and what is the minimum standard?
The FORCE Evaluation consists of four separate evaluation components designed to elicit and measure different physical capabilities. There is one minimum standard for all CAF members. The evaluation components are:
- 20 m Rushes: Starting from the prone position, complete two shuttle sprints (1 shuttle = 20 m there, 20 m back) dropping to the prone position every 10 m for a total of 80 m. To be completed in less than 51 seconds.
- Sandbag Lift: 30 consecutive lifts of a 20 kg sandbag from the floor to a height of 1 m. The member alternates between left and right sandbags separated by 1.25 m. To be completed in 3 minutes and 30 seconds or less;
- Intermittent Loaded Shuttles: 10 consecutive shuttles (1 shuttle = 20 m there, 20 m back), alternating between loaded shuttles with a 20 kg sandbag and unloaded shuttles, totaling 400 m. To be completed in 5 minutes and 21 seconds or less;
- Sandbag Drag: Carry one 20 kg sandbag and pull a minimum of four on the floor over 20 m without stopping. Number of sandbags being dragged depends on the type of floor.
3. How can I train more effectively to pass the FORCE Evaluation?
There are two significant resources to prepare CAF personnel for the FORCE Evaluation. The first is to seek assistance from local PSP Fitness Staff.
The second resource is DFit.ca, which is specifically designed to assist CAF members with preparing for the physical demands of operations and exceeding the FORCE Evaluation standard.
4. Will current CAF personnel who are not able to pass the FORCE Evaluation be released from the CAF?
On 1 April 2014, the CF EXPRES Evaluation was officially replaced by the FORCE Evaluation. Since then, some of the CAF fitness related policies haven’t been updated and are awaiting promulgation but the spirit of DAOD 5023-2 remains the same. As in the former policy, Supplementary Physical Training and re-evaluation will be recommended for any CAF personnel who do not pass the FORCE Evaluation.
PSP Fitness Staff are well prepared to assist CAF personnel in improving their overall fitness and meeting the requirements of the FORCE Evaluation, and the Common Military Tasks Fitness Evaluation (CMTFE).
5. Why do all CAF personnel have the same standard of fitness regardless of military occupation?
All CAF personnel are held to the Universality of Service (UofS) principle, which stipulates that “CAF members are liable to perform general military duties and common defence and security duties, not just the duties of their military occupation or occupational specification”. A career in the CAF, at times, requires working for long durations, manipulating moderate to heavy equipment, and working in harsh environments. The CMTFE which includes six common tasks was developed after a thorough scientific evaluation of the actual demands placed upon CAF members. The standards are necessary in order to meet the requirements of the job. In order to meet UofS, all CAF personnel, among other things, must pass the FORCE Evaluation.
6. What should I do to get ready for the FORCE Evaluation?
Your local PSP Fitness Staff are available to help guide and direct you in preparation for your FORCE Evaluation.
Along with PSP Fitness Staff, DFIT.ca is an excellent resource for programs and tools to increase overall fitness levels and reduce the risk of injury. CAF personnel are also encouraged to contact their local Health Promotion office to arrange or attend presentations on topics such as injury prevention, nutrition, addiction awareness and prevention.
History of the FORCE Program
7. Why did the CAF update the fitness evaluation process and launch Project FORCE?
A number of elements contributed to updating the fitness evaluation process. The 2004 Health and Lifestyle Information Survey report was one of the main factors which encouraged senior leadership to begin to take a critical look at fitness in the CAF. This led to the publication of the CF Health and Physical Fitness Strategy, in which CAF leadership recognized the importance of revalidating the Minimum Physical Fitness Standard in order to ensure fitness standards were reflective of physical requirements of current and future CAF operations.
8. How were the four FORCE Evaluation components derived?
The first step in the development of the FORCE Evaluation was to update and validate the common military tasks. In what has been described as the most comprehensive analysis of military operational fitness, DFit’s human performance scientists and fitness experts looked at more than 400 tasks performed by CAF personnel in all environments over the past 20 years. Using the data collected from CAF personnel, subject matter experts, laboratory and field measurements, the research team developed a revised fitness component of the minimum operational standard required by UofS that is based on the following six common tasks, often identified as CMTFE, required of all CAF personnel:
Requiring all CAF personnel to demonstrate the ability to complete these six tasks on an annual basis would be administratively cumbersome. Therefore, Project FORCE developed the FORCE Evaluation; a much more straightforward evaluation to assess CAF personnel's ability to perform the physiological requirements of the common tasks.
- Escape to cover;
- Pickets and wire carry;
- Sandbag fortification;
- Picking and digging;
- Vehicle extrication; and
- Stretcher carry
The four components of the FORCE Evaluation were designed to replicate some of the lifting and movement patterns found in the six common tasks. The FORCE Evaluation components standards are derived from the minimal acceptable standards on the six common tasks. These four evaluation components were found to be the strongest predictors of performance on the common tasks, with more accuracy than the classic endurance run or push-ups and sit-ups.
What you need to know to complete your FORCE Evaluation
9. I have a physical limitation/injury that may affect my performance on the FORCE Evaluation. Should I still attempt the FORCE Evaluation?
Prior to attempting the FORCE Evaluation, all CAF personnel must complete a Health Questionnaire. The Health Questionnaire consists of three questions. Participants are instructed to carefully read and honestly answer the questions. This procedure is necessary to identify potential issues that require a medical consultation prior to an evaluation. Participants who answer “YES” to one or both of the first two questions will be referred to their Health Care Provider.
The Health Care Provider, based on his/her assessment, will make one or more of the following recommendations:
a. The participant is fit for the FORCE Evaluation and subsequent training:
b. The participant is unfit for the FORCE Evaluation and training:
CAF personnel who are unable to perform the FORCE Evaluation components due to medical reasons may be considered eligible to perform the Common Military Task Fitness Evaluation (CMTFE) with the concurrence of their local medical CoC.
- Temporarily, as indicated on the CAF personnel’s CF 2018
It is also possible to obtain a partial exemption, or a modification of the FORCE Evaluation. The first step for this process is to complete the CMTFE to demonstrate the physical requirements of UofS. The Physical Fitness Evaluation Review Committee (PFERC) delegated the authority to DFIT to track CMTFE results and report to the PFERC. The PFERC is the authority on determining alternate/modified protocols for fitness evaluations.
10. How can I book my evaluation and get answers to my questions?
All pertinent information with regards to registration of the FORCE Evaluation will be managed locally. PSP Fitness Staff and your local chain of command (COC) will provide the necessary information and address questions. Once a FORCE Evaluation is booked, you will receive an email outlining all preliminary preparations and instructions with regards to your evaluation.
11. Will the Canadian Army continue to use the Battle Fitness Test?
The Canadian Army (CA) has been engaged throughout the FORCE Program and has adopted the FORCE Evaluation as their annual fitness evaluation.
Since 1 Oct 2017, the CA has adopted the FORCE Combat, which is an Individual Task Battle Standard (ITBS), developed to replicate the physical demands of the CA during combat operations.
While FORCE Combat can be used as a training or readiness tool, the FORCE Evaluation remains the fitness standard for Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel.
12. I am posted OUTCAN to a location in Europe or the USA. Will I have to do the FORCE Evaluation?
Yes, OUTCAN personnel posted to Europe and the USA will follow the same direction as CAF personnel posted to a Canadian Base/Wing. Testing will continue to be administered annually by a PSP FORCE Evaluator at designated USA or European testing sites.
The testing schedule can be found at the following links:
13. I am posted OUTCAN to a remote location outside of Europe and the USA, such as Singapore or Israel. Will I have to do the FORCE Evaluation?
OUTCAN personnel posted to a Designated Remote Location or an Accessible Remote Location will continue to follow direction outlined in the VCDS Group Order 5023-2 the until further notice. Location excusals will continue until these documents can be reviewed and amended in order to align themselves with the FORCE Evaluation. More details will be available on the VCDS Group Health and Physical Fitness website.
14. Does the FORCE Evaluation apply to other specialized groups within the CAF with their own fitness test, such as JTF2?
L1s wishing to introduce environmental or occupational physical fitness evaluations or standards and therefore exempting their personnel from the annual CAF MPFS, must submit their request to CMP. Such requests must include a scientific validation conducted by DFIT justifying that the environmental or occupational evaluation and standard meets or exceeds the CAF MPFS.
15. How can I be made exempt from my annual FORCE Evaluation?
As of 1 April 2013, CAF personnel are no longer able to get an exemption for meeting higher standards during their fitness evaluation.
The incentive exemption was implemented to reduce fitness evaluation administration at a time when testing was conducted one-on-one (i.e. step test). In order to demonstrate that CAF personnel can meet the UofS principle on a yearly basis, the incentive exemptions have now been eliminated.
16. Will the chain of command be asked to allocate time for those needing to train for the FORCE Evaluation?
The COC’s obligation to allocate time for members to carry out fitness activities has not changed. DAOD 5023-2 clearly states that the COC is responsible for ensuring that members are provided opportunities to conduct physical fitness activities during normal working hours when circumstances permit. This is also supported by the CDS Guidance (2017) which states that “COs and their leadership teams foster the resilience of their personnel by promoting physical fitness, mental preparation and trust”. The same guidance mentioned that “Fitness, nutrition and rest help to reduce stress”. However, it is the obligation of all CAF personnel to ensure that they are fit for service.
The Directorate of Fitness recommends that CAF personnel participate in a minimum of five 60-minute sessions of physical fitness training per week. The Directorate of Fitness will continue to emphasize this guidance to the COC.
17. Is there a plan to raise the minimal standard on the FORCE Evaluation?
The Canadian Armed Forces must follow the Canadian Charter of Human Rights; within this charter are specific instructions to establish a Bona Fide Occupational Requirement (BFOR). The FORCE Evaluation has been established within the BFOR framework. The FORCE Evaluation cannot be artificially inflated by increasing the demands of the evaluation over and above the operational requirement established.