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March 17, 2010
Army softens training for recruits
Last November, as reported at American Thinker, the private non-profit group "Mission Readiness" made waves with a report that 75% of America's youth were unfit for military service due to physical, educational, and moral deficiencies. Four months later, the Army has restructured its training regimen to now include more yoga and calisthenics - and less pushups and long distance runs - for incoming recruits. Katie Drummond of AOL news has the details:
It's off the running track and onto the yoga mat for new recruits in the U.S. Army, as the military revamps its fitness program for the first time in three decades.
Grunts will no longer suffer through the tried-and-true standard: long-distance runs, bayonet drills and, of course, the "drop and give me 20" at the behest of their drill sergeant.
Instead, they'll focus on calisthenics such as stretches, leg raises and abdominal workouts to improve core strength. Troops are also being trained in "rolling techniques" and in hands-on combat using improvised weaponry like pipes and wood planks.
The logic behind the ab-crunching, plank-wielding fitness plan is twofold: Army instructors say they want to closely mimic the realities of modern combat, and also toughen up troops who've grown up lazier and more coddled than their predecessors.
"Most of these soldiers have never been in a fistfight or any kind of a physical confrontation. They are stunned when they get smacked in the face," Capt. Scott Sewell, who oversees trainees, told The Associated Press. "We are trying to get them to act, to think like warriors."
While some of these changes are sensible and no doubt reflect the changing nature of urban warfare and the associated physical demands, there is little doubt that the health crisis among America's youth played no small part in the changes.
Last November, Curt Gilroy, the Pentagon's director of accessions, told Army Times that most American teens were obese, out of shape and plagued by illness because of "couch potato syndrome."The new changes are sure to provoke spirited discussion within the military and especially among graduates of the boot camps and basic trainings of yesteryear.
"Kids are just not able to do push-ups, and they can't do pull-ups, and they can't run," he said.
Fortunately, the new Army workout plan doesn't ask them to.
So what can Army grunts expect when they start their basic training? They'll be rolled along the ground to mimic falling from a Humvee. They'll also engage in alternating series of stretches, lunges and zigzag sprints, and lift decidedly warlike objects -- mannequins, ammunition cans -- over their heads.
Hopefully these changes are more indicative of the evolving physical and mental demands of modern combat, rather than a silent acquiescence to the lowering of standards that pervades the rest of society and our institutions.