Making Soldiers Fit to Fight, Without the Situps

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by bruno, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/us/31soldier.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

    I dunno - Basic training is definitely a lot softer than it was in the past. (I find it interesting that the USMC doesn't seem to make these same concessions to an out of shape generation. If they have I haven't heard about it). I support the idea that the old "daily dozen" didn't add a lot to a soldier's overall fitness and readiness, but long endurance runs certainly do no matter what the PC spin that is put on it- and they do it in a relatively short amount of time. There are definitely fitness programs out there that they can adopt that will drag individuals into a much higher level of fitness rapidly- for example "Cross Fit"- but it involves a lot of intense effort and the willingness to work until at least initially you literally puke.
     
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    It's the same problem we've had for years: the Army is a largely corporate structure run by people like Mark Hertling who want to make rank. He doesn't care about making tough soldiers. He cares about his evaluation from his boss. I may be active duty and he may be a general but I'll call a spade a spade. He was no different as the 1AD CG.
    Compounding that is the problem of numbers. Think about that...145,000 recruits a year. That's almost an entire Marine Corps every year we have to recruit to maintain this size. We are too big and too corporate. The Army simply has to take too many people to be as selective as we should be, as we OUGHT to be. Large organizations lose the ability to be selective. Imagine if for every 10 candidates we only had to take the top 4? That's the difference between a Corps and an Army. We have to take all 10. Then we ask them if they have any friends.

    Pardon my French, but the number of fat pieces of **** I see everyday around post would make you vomit. But that's the youth of America now. Hell, when we were deployed we even had a tubby marine attached to us. When they're getting fat, you know we have a problem.
     
  3. futureAFA

    futureAFA Member

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    I’m going to have to have to agree with Scout here. Although I’m not in the Army, or Marines, 140,000 recruits a year is a little excessive! They don’t need THAT many soldiers especially if so many are fat, overweight, and out of shape. Make it harder if anything. If people cant stay in shape they shouldn’t be allowed to stay. Just my opinion.
     
  4. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    I've been amazed at the number of overweight cadets I've seen at West Point.
    Seems weight gain is not all that uncommon during the AY.
    Granted, some of them may be football players but even then, don't they have to have some reasonable level of fitness as a cadet?
    I've seen pictures of NCs on R-day and wonder how some of them ever passed the CFA.
    Is this issue exclusive to West Point or do the other SA's have overweight cadets/mids too?
     
  5. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    It is not unique. I was astounded at how many fat USAFA cadets I saw.
     
  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I also agree with Scout about making rank. I think this General has been out of the field WAY TOO LONG!

    To stop carrying rucksacks due to stress fractures of overweight military members is insane. All he is doing is tieing the hands of operational commanders once these soldiers become operational. C'mon, basic training exists to create an operational soldier. You don't make them carry their 70lb rucksack on a run in 90 degree heat to sit there and laugh at them. You do it so they are prepared for the real military, by not doing this all you accomplish is creating problems for the next commander. A commander that has real bullets being shot at their members.

    I give a hats off regarding changing the food in the chow halls at basic, but this will only make a long term impact if every chow hall follows this model. If Bragg, Riley, Campbell, Benning, Collins, Drum, etc continue to serve fried foods and soda, it is highly likely that the military member will revert to their previous ways regarding their caloric intake. Additionally, the military would have to address the fast food joints on post that AD members have easy access to daily.

    IMHO, this is a PC attitude. The fact and the reality should be, for umpteen yrs this is the std., if you want to be in the military than meet the std. I think due to our economy right now this is BS for lowering the standards, especially since there has always been a relationship regarding unemployment and military retention. I.E. when unemployment is low, recruitment/retention is low. When unemployment is high, recruitment/retention rate is high. Right now the Army should be able to have the pick of the litter, and I don't understand why this general would want to drop the standards.


    In the end the people I feel pain for are people like Scout, because the success of his mission is tied to these new military members. A helo going down even in a non-combat area, will require each and every member working together to get out. Have an injured 200lb 6'0" tall crew member where it landed in a swamp is going to demand physical strength to pull them to safety.

    Last thing...I would love to say to Gen. Hertling, are you telling me a bullet fired by the enemy will go slower because you decided running was not a priority. I would also like to ask him, if he understands from a work out POV, that assaulting tires with bayonets is a physical work out compared to shooting a rifle for marksmanship?
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  7. nsiderbam

    nsiderbam USNA c/o '14

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    New plebe here, fresh out of plebe summer and just over a week into the ac year.

    For the most part, the majority of mids here are at a decent level of fitness. Reportedly, our class has been the "fattest" plebe class so far, but I honestly wouldn't have been able to tell. Of course there were a few that slipped through and either chit-surfed the whole summer or fell out of every run, but most people actually tried, and I was surprised at how big the running group I was in was (the fastest group; the pace was actually hard, and the group was pretty large).

    I have been disappointed, however, at the fitness levels of some of the upperclass. Many of them simply went on their summer cruises, ate a lot, and didn't work out, and have now come back 10-15 pounds heavier than before. Just last week, over ten people were separated (according to my CO) for not passing the PRT when they had direct orders from the supe that they would need to pass to stay at the academy (AND after having the entire summer to train and improve). I have heard other similar stories as well, and I believe them.

    Like all of you, I simply find it ridiculous that the military is lowering its standard simply due to civilians lowering their standards.
     
  8. sprog

    sprog Member

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    Football players? Sometimes linemen look pretty fat, but I'd imagine they would pass the "taping" test on body fat percentage. I knew a dude at my Wing who was a power-lifter (former college football player), and he was way over the max on height/weight. When this guy got his annual "taping," however, he always passed the BMI test with flying colors (he didn't have a bodybuilder physique, just a really stocky guy).

    Sometimes, I admit, big linemen are just fat and out of shape (cough, Albert Haynesworth). I thought that SA football players wouldn't have that issue as much as civilians. I guess, with obesity being a problem for the whole country, it shouldn't surprise me.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  9. goldfarb1

    goldfarb1 Candidate

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    I think some of the issue can be prevented from the very beginning--at recruiting. Has anyone looked at the minimum PFT (insert any other military fitness test)? You could do 3 pullups and still be fit for service. Now, I think for starters the mimunum should be inreased. Second, if a kid is fat going into service...chances are he's going to be fat while in service. Sure you can tell him increase your CFA, PFT, etc...but in reality statistics say he is likely to stay fat.
     
  10. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    I graduated with quite a few fatties. We have the firstie 15 at USAFA. They seriously expect us to gain weight, our uniforms are fitted larger and any uniforms tailored later (Mess Dress for example) were tailored to account for a size increase. I need to get my Mess Dress and officer blues pants retailored (or just a new pair for the pants) because I haven't gained or lost weight in about 5 years. The room they left for my butt to grow isn't being filled. hah!

    So ya, I know it is a problem at USAFA. I watched many more people gain weight from 4 dig year on than the other way around. I only remember 2 of my friends who lost about 20-30 pounds each there and kept it off for good.
     
  11. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Unless they're making 5'5" linemen shaped like coke bottles, no.
     
  12. sprog

    sprog Member

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  13. sprog

    sprog Member

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    5'5" dudes? I guess they have tubby leprechauns at USAFA. :shake:

    Edit:

    I just realized what you meant with the coke bottle reference. That makes my leprechaun comment not as funny.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  14. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    But they do need that many and, to meet operational commitments, they have to retain them. To meet present quotas, recruits with a high school diploma are at an all time low, Category IV recruits are at a high, ASVAB averages are at a low, and Moral waivers are at a high. To tuirn down a physically unfit highly qualified recruit would only mean a further increase in the above marginal categories. Wait until the economy improves. It will only get worse.
     
  15. sprog

    sprog Member

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    A good argument for reinstatement of the draft, I think.
     
  16. futureAFA

    futureAFA Member

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    But even if we needed every soldier we could get, I don’t think it’s an excuse to let unfit, fat ones fight with well deserving in shape ones. Having a soldier who cant perform his duties is worse than none. He could put others at risk. At least for certain jobs such as infantry, and other combat jobs the standard cant lower at all. If it keeps going down a lot more US soldiers will die.

    In my opinion fewer much better trained soldiers is better than tons of fat ones.

    Feel free to prove me wrong. :thumb:
     
  17. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Oh yes sir. I'll get right on that. I'll let everyone in Group know that we have your permission to succeed at warfighting.
     
  18. WAMom68

    WAMom68 Founding Member

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    Two questions Scout...
    Just by looking at a person can you tell if a "fat piece of ****" is actually overweight or not? The reason I ask is that my son is considered overweight by the USMA weight/height chart but when his body fat percentage is measured he is around 7%. So he may look like a "fat piece of ****" to you but he really isn't.

    I would like to know if you always judge other soldiers to be "a piece of ****" just by their weight or if you wait to see if they can actually do their jobs and pass their APFT?
     
  19. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Actually- the draft is about as low on the priority as anyone could put it- that would just exacerbate the issue by having completely unwilling soldiers in addition to having out of shape recruits. Personally- I can think of no good reason for doing that- at least no good reason in which the Army is the chief beneficiary.

    My beef with all of this is that it is basically the bean counters and AG toads who are making decisions for falacious reasons. I think the Army doesn't know who it is recruiting or why they join. The argument basically is that while an 11B is enlisting to be a warrior a petroleum handler or a wheeled vehicle mechanic isn't really enlisting to be a "steely eyed killer" and they won't enlist and can't make it if you treat them that way. But I can't count the number of times that I have talked to a kid just out of Basic who was surprised by how relatively undemanding it really was- while I have never talked to a kid fresh out of PI or San Diego who was disappointed because he wasn't physically challenged. Yes the Marines have to recruit 3x less per year than the Army- but The Army itself is still only recruiting 1/2 of what it had to recruit in 1985 to support an army of 800,000- yet 25 years later - with a population of 25 million more people (which probably means a recruiting pool of >5 million more), in the middle of a recession with less competition (within the DOD the AF and the Navy 40% smaller than they were at that time) the Army can't recruit because of a demanding PT program ?
    That's bull. I believe that if they were to make the Army basic more demanding as opposed to less- they would actually improved their recruting and retention numbers. The real deal in my opinion- they don't want to spend more time in the Basic/AIT pipeline which obviously if they are starting at a lower base will take more time to develop the necessary level of physical fitness. Since Tradoc doesn't want that on their tab- they are bumping this along to the units and giving them the mission to get New Soldiers in shape.

    I concur completely with TPG- load up those ruck sacks and hit the road.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  20. sprog

    sprog Member

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    If the US had a draft, and I mean a draft like in the Second World War (without a zillion exemptions), there would be some fundamental differences in how foreign policy decisions involving military action are made. As Americans on the whole are getting larger, there would certainly be overweight recruits reporting to induction centers. Nonetheless, I would imagine that the Army would be able to be more selective, as there would be a larger pool of potential privates (nice double entendre, eh?). I also think national service is a good thing on principle, although I'm not sure I'd limit it to military service.

    As far as draftees being "unwilling," yes, they do not volunteer for service; however, the majority will serve honorably and bring a wider cross-section to the military which can only benefit both the service and the individual. I know that you did not propose this, Bruno, but your comments got me to thinking about the notion that some folks have about draftees being nothing but discipline problems who would rather be anywhere but the service. I'm certain that there were draftees that fit that bill in years past, as there are enlistees who currently fit in that category. I think it's safe to say, though, that most of those who got draft notices in previous wars went into the service without a fight and did their duty honorably. I'm proud to count my late father in the latter group.

    Here is an interesting piece from the VFW on draftees, with some draftee MOH recipients listed:

    http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.magDtl&dtl=1&mid=4875

    That said, I recognize that there will not be a draft again unless World War III erupts. Mostly, I think this is because the failures of the Vietnam Era draft (which was highly unfair) still leave a stale taste in the Army's mouth. Personally, though, I'm unwilling to completely poo-poo the notion of conscription. 93% of the Army in WWII was drafted (according to the VFW source). Those guys did a pretty good job with getting rid of fascism, and I can't help but think that they took some of the lessons of their military service into their private lives when they became veterans. Most people admire the toughness of that generation, and the country certainly benefited from that group of draftees.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010

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