Military training and historical blindness

Now for something completely different…

The Army is dropping hand grenade qualifications from basic training because soldiers are too weak to throw grenades.

I read articles all the time how our recruits are too fat or not physically fit enough for the military and it is a national security concern.

This bitching and griping reeks of historical illiteracy and just pisses me off.

Lets go back to the beginning of WWII.  The United States military had to radically change its recruit training.  Why?  Our recruits were not physically fit enough to serve.

Remember the beginning of Captain America when Steve Rogers was just a scrawny kid surrounded by a bunch of strapping young men going off to war?  That’s Hollywood bullshit.

We were still recovering from the depression.  We were drafting kids off of farms and poor neighborhoods in cities who, until they got to recruit training, hadn’t had three square meals in a day.  We had to focus on PT to fatten our soldiers up.

So 70 years later we have the opposite problem.  So what?

Adapt and overcome.

In addition, the technical aspect of the military has gotten more complex.  This means more classroom time.

This is something that I see a parallel with in college engineering programs.  More and more engineers are taking five years to complete a degree (I was one).  Why?  Well, we still have the learn the fundamentals that engineers were learning 20, 30, 40 years ago.  Plus we have to learn a lot of new stuff that has been added to engineering knowledge base since then.

I had a professor who told us in Process Controls that he wished his class was two semesters.  The first semester would cover the same fundamentals that were covered when he was a student, and the second semester would cover the programming and digital aspects of process controls.  Instead he had to jam the fundamentals into half as much time and cover programming into the second half of the semester.  He really felt that with the increase in technical knowledge over the last 50 years, engineering programs should be five years.

As military training gets more technical, perhaps 10 to 12 weeks of basic isn’t enough to get recruits fit and teach them the technical things they need to know.  Maybe 18 or 20 weeks of training is appropriate.

Consider simply the increase in first aid knowledge from WWII to today, let alone the use of battlefield electronics, GPS technology, etc.

Will it cost more.  Yes, but so what.  We have the most advanced military on the planet.  We do more with fewer soldiers than ever before.

In Starship Troopers, Cap Troopers in powered armor were so lethal that a single trooper could effectively occupy several square miles of enemy terrain.

We’re not to that level (yet) but consider this: we occupied Iraq for 10 years with under 200,000 troops and accrued roughly 4,400 casualties.  We took Normandy beach with 156,000 troops and lost roughly 4,400 men on D-Day alone.

Since we do so much more with so many fewer personnel, if we have to spend more time and effort getting the people we have up to spec, it’s worth the expense.

Not to sound like an armchair general, but at first glance the solution to this seems rather simple.  Spend more time in recruit training.  Put more of an emphasis on PT and fundamental physical war fighting skills, less time in the classroom.  Maybe add an in intermediate program between basic and AIT to cover fundamental technical skills.

Most importantly DO NOT LOWER STANDARDS.

We had to deal with this once before, getting a bunch of scrawny, malnourished, Great Depression kids ready to fight the Nazis.  Let’s apply the same logic to getting a bunch of fat kids who grew up on video games ready to fight terrorists.

This is one of those times where I really need Trump to be Trump and just say “Make the Military Great Again” and get the money we have to spend to do this right.

5 Replies to “Military training and historical blindness”

  1. Its a good plan and would be money well spent, there were far to many thing that had been cut already back when i went through in 2007, “you will get trained in this at your unit” is code for you will never get trained in this for far to many soldiers. The extra time will also do a lot to help solve the entitlement and discipline issues also cited as a problem with the layest generation of soldiers. To much training time and budget is spent on countless online trainings for equal oppertunity and absolute safety in all circumstances, it leaves little time for actual training.The dicipline issue cant really be stopped untill NCOs are allowed to start using nonjudical punishments again. Part of the reason I got out was that i couldent even tell a soldier to do pushups any more let alone “smoking”a soldier. There are to little consiquences for soldiers who dont follow regulations and to much focus on politically correct training.

  2. When I entered basic training in 1974 I bore a striking to a Steve Rogers before picture weighing in at 120 lbs. And there were some that resembled Private Pyle from Full Metal Jacket. And the love and dedication of the Drill Sergeants got us all to standard. This involved things like our Drill Sergeant standing at the end of the chow line and telling Pyle to remove this and that from his tray. And it usually ended up on my tray.
    And by the time we graduated Basic and Infantry school, I had gained 30 lbs and Pyle had lost it. So we had it down in the 70’s. What has changed?

  3. The primary reason for this is not that ‘all’ troops are having a hard time throwing a grenade the size and weight of a standard hardball baseball, but the SJWs screaming bloody murder because since Basic is now COED the problem is that 99 44/100% of the girls simply can’t throw overhand worth a shit and that fact is out in the open for everyone to see.

    Well, we can’t have them failing at Grenade Qualification (which hasn’t been an actual “requirement” to pass Basic for many decades anyway) as that would look bad for the SJWs.

    1. “The primary reason for this is not that ‘all’ troops are having a hard time throwing a grenade the size and weight of a standard hardball baseball, but the SJWs screaming bloody murder because since Basic is now COED the problem is that 99 44/100% of the girls simply can’t throw overhand worth a shit and that fact is out in the open for everyone to see.”
      Our current issue grenades weigh just under a pound and are 3 times the weight of a baseball, makes sense considering they are balls of iron and TNT. Its heavy enough we were taught to either throw them underhanded or shot-put style. The grenade range qualification doesn’t require long throws just accurate ones and the distance covered is medium to close. The main problem is few have learned to throw accurately anymore.

      1. I learned to throw accurately in cub scouts, it took a few hours to throw and catch one-handed with either hand. (“weak hand” catches are surprisingly tricky.) So even by modern wimpy standards this doesn’t sound like a big training problem. It seems to me the real question here is “what’s wrong with the Army that they aren’t willing to find a proper solution?”

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