Instilling the warrior spirit: Facility used to train Soldiers in hand-to-hand combat
March 4, 2009
With belts and shoes removed for safety and ACU jackets turned inside out so they wouldn't get stained with blood, eight Soldiers took turns taking on their instructors last week during a series of drills held at Fort Meade's new Warrior Combatives Facility.
But the Soldiers from the Defense Information School, 704th Military Intelligence Battalion and Fort Meade's Noncommissioned Officer Academy were doing more than completing the drills on Feb. 27 - they were also clinching a Level 1 Combatives certification.
The final exercise, known as the "Clinch Drill," followed a week of training that focused on the history of combatives as well as practical aspects of the sport such as developing a level of awareness, positioning and closing the distance, said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Billups, senior noncommissioned officer at the NCO Academy and a certified Level 3 Combatives instructor.
The students were required to clinch their instructors successfully within one minute on four separate occasions. The drill is "designed for the student to overcome the fear of getting punched," Billups said. "They have to have it in them to take a punch." Billups led the training, assisted on Friday by "punchers" Staff Sgt. Joseph Bicchieri from the NCOA, a Level 3 Combatives instructor, and Sgt. 1st Class Michelle Johnson from Student Company, DINFOS, a Level 2 instructor.
The facility, located in Bldg. 68 off Rock Avenue, features thick mats along the walls and floor. Late last year, T.J. Singh and Sandy Deeds from the Directorate of Public Works identified the space, which previously had been used by staff from the Fort Meade Museum, for the combatives facility, said Christopher Thiel, training officer with Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.
"It was an easy and intelligent decision for them to continue letting DPTMS use it for this and other training division purposes," he said.
DPTMS provided the floor mats, Thiel said, while Fort Meade's 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera) supplied the wall mats. Preparation of the room took place late last month by staff and students from the NCOA, DINFOS and others. "It was a collective effort," Billups said.
Last week's class was the facility's first. Although other units may use the facility with proper authorization, the NCOA has priority due to installation Training and Doctrine mission-support requirements, Thiel said.
DPTMS treats the facility like a range or obstacle course, he added, and it must be reserved through Range Control.
"Basic Combatives is one of the 40 warrior core tasks of the Warrior Ethos initiative," Billups said, and it has been incorporated into Army Field Manual 3-25.150. It is based on a combination of boxing and mixed martial arts.
The Modern Army Combatives Program began in 1995 with the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Benning, Ga., and since then "has spread at the grass roots [level] around the Army," Billups said. The mission of the program is to A,A3train leaders and Soldiers in close quarters ... to instill the Warrior Ethos and prepare Soldiers to close with and defeat the enemy in hand-to-hand combat," he added.
"It teaches you to use your body as a weapon in addition to what you have issued to you," said Pfc. Michael Alexander, an Advanced Individual Training student at DINFOS who has been practicing karate for several years. "You never know what kind of situation you will be in. Plus it's good PT and keeps you in shape."
For more information about reserving the Warrior Combatives Facility, call Range Control at 301-688-4775.