Citing a disturbing trend of new soldiers lacking both proper discipline and physical fitness, senior U.S. Army leaders are calling for a tougher and longer basic training program to prepare troops for combat over the next decade.
As commanding general of IET, Frost was tasked with increasing the quality of training and reducing new soldier attrition.
After compiling the data from surveys of about 27,000 commissioned officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers, the message was very clear, Frost said.
“The number-one thing that was asked for five-fold or five times as much as any of the other categories was discipline,” Frost said.
“First-unit-of-assignment leaders want Initial Entry Training to deliver disciplined, physically-fit new soldiers who are willing to learn, they are mentally tough, professional and are proud to serve in the United States Army.”
A SENSE OF ‘ENTITLEMENT’
“What leaders have observed in general is they believe that there is too much of a sense of entitlement, questioning of lawful orders, not listening to instruction, too much of a buddy mentality with NCOs and officers and a lot of tardiness being late to formation and duties,” Frost said. “These are trends that they see as increasing that they think are part of the discipline aspect that is missing and that they would like to see in the trainees that become soldiers that come to them as their first unit of assignment.”
In addition to discipline and physical fitness, leaders also wanted technical and tactical proficiency in warrior tasks and battle drills.
Secretary of the Army Mark Esper said at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium in Alabama:
“We have every reason to get this right, and far fewer reasons not to, that’s why we are considering several initiatives — from a new physical fitness regime to reforming and extending basic training — in order to ensure our young men and women are prepared for the rigors of high-intensity combat.”
While Esper didn’t divulge any details of what an extended Basic Combat Training (BCT) might look like, the Army has already floated the idea of adding two weeks to its 10-week program. A redesigned BCT is expected to be implemented by early summer, reports Military.com.
The current BCT involves a three-stage process, the first of which is the “Red Phase.” Comprising the first three weeks of training, it’s where recruits begin to learn drills and ceremonies, the seven “Army Core Values, unarmed combat and first aid. Recruits are also introduced to standard-issue weapons like the M-16 assault rifle and M-4 carbine.
In Phase 2, known as the “White Phase,” soldiers begin target practice with their rifles, and become acquainted with other weapons like grenade launchers and machine guns. The recruits also complete a timed obstacle course and learn to work alongside other soldiers.
The final phase, or “Blue Phase,” sees the soldiers complete the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), learn nighttime combat operations and go on 10- and 15-kilometer field marches. After passing all their tests, the recruits graduate from basic training and move on to Advanced Individual Training, where they focus on specific skills in their field.
“The ultimate goal of the military is to strip a civilian of civilian status and to put them in a military mindset,” Mike Volkin, an Iraq war veteran and author of “The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook,” told Fox News. “So if you were to boil down the goal of basic training to its essence it would be to conform.”
HAMMER, ANVIL, FORGE
“The other big piece we are doing in Basic Combat Training that helps with the esprit de corps and the discipline aspect and also lends a measure of grit and resilience to [BCT] is we have three major field training exercises that we are going to do now. We are calling them the Hammer, the Anvil and the Forge,” Frost said, describing how the final Forge FTX is an homage to the Army’s historic ties to Valley Forge.
“That is going to be a culminating FTX which is a graduation requirement. It will be an 81-hour field training exercise with about 40 miles of tactical road marching that is conducted through a series of tactical events and mini field training exercises.”
The Forge will include a night infiltration course and a medical evacuation mass casualty exercise. There will be ethical dilemmas soldiers have to negotiate as well as a battle march and shoot, a resupply mission which involves moving supplies, ammo, water to a link-up point, patrol base activities, combat patrols as well as an obstacle course, Frost said.
“If you succeed in making it through the 81-hour FTX … then what will happen is you will earn the right to become a soldier,” Frost said. “You will earn your beret, you will earn a ‘soldier for life’ certificate, you will get your National Defense Service Medal and your uniform will look exactly like a United States Army soldier.”
If you’d like to read more details of the new training program, click here to continue reading at military.com
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 30th, 2018