FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The one thing in the Army that remains constant is that things will always change. You can count on that. Change, of course, in an operational setting is a necessity because we continually must adapt to ensure the success of the warfare mission and address the new challenges that we face. Changes start at the ground up, and at Fort Jackson that translates to Basic Combat Training.

During the past few months, BCT has been incorporating a number of changes that will better prepare our Soldiers for the new challenges they are confronting downrange. Let us never forget that we are a nation at war. As for BCT, the changes increase the relevance of our curriculum by altering the way we teach marksmanship, combatives and physical fitness, while stressing values and culture, as well as Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.

Recently, Initial Military Training has made every effort to make everyone aware of the new developments that are current as of July.

There has been information in regard to BCT transformation posted online on the Army's home page as well as on social media sites. IMT wants to make sure that everyone is aware of what has taken place. All of this is extremely important, because cadre and Soldiers need to understand the rationale, and because they are part of the process.

This new direction of BCT did not just materialize overnight. The shift has taken shape after about five years of some intensive assessments, plotting and planning by IMT. Fort Jackson and other training centers are at the forefront of the training transition.

Obviously, the implementation still requires a lot of effort, determination and teamwork from everyone on Fort Jackson.

As for marksmanship, all Soldiers are receiving more training time so that they will be able to fire more rounds and become more knowledgeable and comfortable with their weapons before they leave here. Soldiers now fire 500 rounds during qualification.

There is a new Physical Readiness Program on post that is geared to increase the fitness of new Soldiers so they will be ready for a more rigorous PT routine once they reach the operational force. The objective is to balance the goal of increasing capabilities and at the same time reduce the number of injuries. This more progressive approach is a system of training in phases, all the while ensuring that Soldiers are always prepared for a wartime mission. The goal is to focus on training the right muscles and energy systems for the fight.

In the past, when a Soldier was doing sit-ups and push-ups, he or she didn't quite make the connection with his or her duties as a Soldier. Now when a Soldier does, for example, climbing drills or sprints, he or she will recognize how the new regimen fits in with combat skills. The reasoning behind the new PT regimen is consistent with the IMT objective that Army leadership has in mind with core Soldiering skills. The Army is focusing its efforts on ensuring that Soldiers learn to do a number of basic things well so that they are prepared to adapt to future situations.

Those Soldiers who are redeploying from combat zones are providing us with information, and we are processing it as we implement these advances. Again, we need to make sure that we are teaching the right things at the right times.

Refer to the list adjacent to this column: The top 10 things you need to know about changes.

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Page last updated Thu August 5th, 2010 at 09:03