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1.0 Introduction

This article provides an overview of the Australian Army’s Combat Fitness Leader (CFL), formerly referred to as ‘Sub-unit PTI’.

CFL’s are the first level of physical training instructor (PTI), or exercise professional, within the Australian Army’s PT branch.

2.0 What is a Combat Fitness Leader?

The Combat Fitness Leader (CFL) is a member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who provides basic organic fitness training support to small groups or organisations in an operational setting.

This function is performed in addition to their primary trade or employment, under indirect supervision from a physical training specialist.

3.0 Where are CFL’s Trained?

Training for CFL’s is delivered at the local level, i.e. a base where the candidate may normally work.

In contrast, higher level PTI qualifications are delivered by the tri-Service Australian Defence Force Physical Training School at HMAS Cerberus (Spence, 2018).

4.0 What is the Role of an Australian Army PTI?

The exact role of a PTI will vary depending on their level and qualifications but, in general, they are responsible for (RAAMC, 2018):

  • Ensuring Army personnel are physically conditioned to carry out their everyday tasks in barracks and on operations.
  • Delivering:
    • Physical conditioning and maintenance;
    • Self-defence training;
    • Sports; and
    • Recreational activities.
  • Rehabilitation of soft tissue injuries to enable personnel to return to duties as soon as possible.
  • Playing an integral part in the health, safety and wellbeing of Army personnel as a key element in the retention and human performance.
  • Assisting with the reduction of non-battle injuries.

5.0 What is the Aim of the CLF Course?

The aim of the CFL course is to teach candidates to lead physical training techniques.

6.0 How long is the CFL Course?

The CFL is a “month-long course.” (Fiocco, 2013), down from 8 weeks in 2010.

7.0 Eligibility for the CFL Course

Although any member of the Australian Army can apply, candidates must have completed the “CFLC Barrier Test to get selected for this course.” (Fiocco, 2013).

Further, it is a non-direct entry course, meaning not open to civilians. Candidates must join another branch of the Australian Army completing all of their Phase 1 basic training and Phase 2 employment training, and then apply for the course.

8.0 Outline of the Training Syllabus

Training during the CFL course includes (Fiocco, 2013):

  • 8-10 workout sessions per day, participating in approximately 200 lessons in total.
  • Anatomy and physiology.
  • Nutrition.
  • Injury prevention.
  • Circuit training.
  • Instructional and communication techniques.
  • Knowledge of the Defence Injury Prevention Programme.
  • Factors of human performance.
  • Health and safety, as well as duty of care and risk management.
  • Organisational policies and procedures pertinent to Defence sport and physical training.
  • Methods and principles of instruction.
  • Theory of physical training. First aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) modules.
  • Skill set requirements:
    • Instruct a workplace physical training session in Defence.
      • This includes planning and delivering a session, as well as motivating participants.
    • Conduct a group fitness appraisal within Defence.
    • Develop a group fitness programme within Defence.
    • Conduct individual fitness assessments within Defence.
    • Apply basic exercise science to exercise instruction.
    • Conduct basic warm-up, stretching, and cool-down programmes.
    • Facilitate groups.

Candidates who successfully complete the course will be awarded a Certificate III in Fitness.

9.0 US Marine Corps Participation

Between August and September 2013, two members of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) attended the CFL course (Fiocco, 2013).

The USMC now has its own PTI’s known as Force Fitness Instructors.

10.0 Transfer to the Australian Defence Force PTI Stream

The CFL course “acts as a selection process to attend the physical training instructor course.” (Fiocco, 2013).

In order to apply for a transfer to the Australian Defence Force PTI stream, candidates must:

  • Have completed the CFL Course, gaining 90% or higher (needs verification).
    • As I understand it there is only one course per year.
  • Be selected to attend the PTI Class 2 course (Tri-Service Basic PTI Course).
  • Transfer to the Medical Corps (if not already).
  • Complete Junior Leader’s Course (pre- or post PTI Class 2 course).

The PTI Class 2 course is 9 months in duration and successful candidates will be promoted to the rank of Corporal on completion (if not already at that rank).

11.0 Advancement in the PT Specialisation

Personnel will typically follow the below career path (Spence, 2018):

  • Corporal.
    • Must have passed the Army PTI Suitability Course.
    • Must have passed the Tri-Service Basic PTI Course (PTI Class 2).
      • Awarded Certificate IV in Fitness on completion of PTI Class 2.
  • Sergeant.
    • Must have passed the Sergeant PTI promotion course.
    • Must have passed the Tri-Service Advanced PTI Course (PTI Class 1).
  • Staff Sergeant.
  • Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2).
    • Must have passed the WO PTI Promotion course.
    • An example job title at this rank: Wing Sergeant Major, Trainee Rehabilitation Wing, School of Military Engineering.
  • Warrant Officer Class One (WO1).
    • An example job title at this rank: Course Implementation Officer (CIO) for ADF PT Courses, ADF PTI School.

12.0 Claiming Fitness Expenses

“You can only claim the cost of fitness expenses if your job requires you to maintain a fitness well above the ADF general standard, eg if you are a physical training instructor with the Australian Special Forces.” (ATO, 2018).

13.0 References

ATO (Australian Tax Office). (2018) If You Work for the Australian Defence Force it Pays to Learn what you Can Claim at Tax Time. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 27 December, 2018].

Fiocco, S. (2013) MRF-D Marines Physically Train the Aussie Way. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 27 December, 2018].

RAAMC (Royal Australian Army Medical Corps). (2018) PTI – Army Physical Training Instructors. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 27 December, 2018].

Spence, G. (2018) Greg Spence LinkedIn Profile. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 27 December, 2018].