New soldiers are grunting through the kind of stretches and twists found in “ab blaster” classes at suburban gyms as the Army revamps its basic training regimen for the first time in three decades.
Heeding the advice of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans, commanders are dropping five-mile runs and bayonet drills in favor of zigzag sprints and exercises that hone core muscles. Battlefield sergeants say that’s the kind of fitness needed to dodge across alleys, walk patrol with heavy packs and body armor or haul a buddy out of a burning vehicle.
And this is hilarious – and largely true in my observation, at least for most LMC -UMC suburban teen-agers who become Army recruits:
Trainers also want to toughen recruits who are often more familiar with Facebook than fistfights.
….But they need to learn how to fight.
“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,” said Capt. Scott Sewell, overseeing almost 190 trainees in their third week of training. “We are trying to get them to act, to think like warriors.”
Godspeed to you, Captain Sewell. And a hat tip to Dave Dilegge.
The culture has changed. School anti-bullying programs have eliminated a lot of the physical aspects of student conflicts but had the unanticipated effect of making the nonphysical but verbal and social bullying far worse because organized ostracism, slander and anonymous internet harrassment are far harder for school authorities to prove in court when challenged by the always litigious parents of the chronic bullies who have (finally) been disciplined.
Consequently, most suburban kids a) feel quite safe in saying unbelievably heinous things to each other that a generation ago, and certainly two generations earlier, would have resulted in an instant punch in the mouth, if not a savage public beating; and b) are completely inept at defending themselves when they come across someone outside their narrow, whitebread, cultural zone who takes offense at their wanton disrespect and reacts with an “old school” response. They are the Emo generation.
Coupled with a widespread loathing of physical exercise and an expectation of gratuitous consumer-debt financed luxury, a sizable segment of young Americans are better prepared for conflict in the court of Louis XIV at Versailles than joining the Army. Or even a moderately resilient soccer team.
Thus concludes my cranky, old man, rant. 🙂