Basic training changes to improve combat readiness
October 26, 2010
By David Vergun
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 26, 2010) Aca,!" Blind obedience-oriented basic combat training is out; confidence-building and thinking-oriented training is now in.
ThatAca,!a,,cs the bottom line of how Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is shaping changes in Army boot camp; changes leaders say are improving SoldiersAca,!a,,c preparedness for combat once they reach their units, said Command Sgt. Maj. John R. Calpena, Initial Military Training Center of Excellence, at an AUSA meeting of senior Army enlisted.
Aca,!A"When we went through basic, total control and fear of authority was taught -- you could see the fear with that stupid look on their faces. Instead of creating obedient machines to do what theyAca,!a,,cre told to do when theyAca,!a,,cre told to do it, weAca,!a,,cre teaching our young Soldiers how to think, how to understand the circumstances and make decisions in stressful conditions because thatAca,!a,,cs whatAca,!a,,cs going on downrange,Aca,!A? Calpena said.
Aca,!A"Young Soldiers receiving fire in a marketplace need to make an on-the-spot decision whether to shoot or not under stress,Aca,!A? he continued. Aca,!A"We had to radically change the way drill sergeants teach to do this as well. TheyAca,!a,,cre no longer strictly disciplinarians, theyAca,!a,,cve got to train Soldiers on tasks that are relevant to combat so when Soldiers graduate, theyAca,!a,,cre ready to go into the fight, in a relatively short amount of time. Soldiers need to understand how the task is performed and how am I going to use this task in the fight. They really want to know. You donAca,!a,,ct have to force obedience into them. They want to be like us, they want to serve. They have heart.
Aca,!A"Some will perceive this as a lack of discipline. ItAca,!a,,cs not. ItAca,!a,,cs confidence,Aca,!A? Calpena added.
Other CSF changes to basic training are improved physical readiness, proper nutrition and injury prevention, said Staff Sgt. Timothy E. Sarvis, assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He was selected as the active-duty Army 2010 Drill Sergeant of the Year.
Aca,!A"Soldiers need to prepare for combat the way athletes train for competition,Aca,!A? Sarvis said. Aca,!A"This includes eating healthier foods and reducing injuries.Aca,!A?
He said the new Army Physical Readiness Training manual, TC3-22.20, replaced FM 2120 as of Aug. 20. Aca,!A"The new manual stresses agility, flexibility, stability, speed, power, balance, coordination and posture. Complex tasks and movements prepare Soldiers for the operational forces,Aca,!A? he said.
Several Soldiers demonstrated physical movements trainees are now required to perform. Most of these movements are actually done on the battlefield, such as moving into and out of cover and concealment, crouch running, moving around and under obstacles, sprinting, jumping, explosive power and landing, according to one of the trainers.
Teaching culture, beliefs, values and behaviors are also part of basic training now that CSF is being used. Aca,!A"We used to train the seven core Army values Aca,!" loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage Aca,!" using PowerPoint slides,Aca,!A? said Sarvis. Aca,!A"This didnAca,!a,,ct hold their attention very well. Now we use interactive-scenario-based training, which allows Soldiers to interact with the videos, making decisions along the way and reinforced by the drill sergeants.Aca,!A?
Resiliency training is an important aspect of basic. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a huge deal,Aca,!A? said Sarvis, explaining Soldiers now need to bounce back from stress. He said trainees are given the Global Assessment Tool within the first 10 days of training and the Army then tracks how they improve or decline over their careers.
GAT is a self-appraisal designed to boost personal growth, strengthen relationships and give Soldiers better coping skills for dealing with potentially traumatic events. GAT can also be used to indicate when Soldiers need to seek professional help.
A sampling of the roughly 200 questions on the GAT:
Aca,!A"Quick, yes or no:
Aca,!A"I believe my life has a higher purpose'
Aca,!A"I believe in our mission'
Aca,!A"I can call people I know in an emergency'
Aca,!A"I trust the team I work with'
Aca,!A"I feel comfortable with my family support net'Aca,!A?
Aca,!A"Twenty-five percent of all drill sergeants are master resiliency trained; they can help show how trainees can effectively deal with stress,Aca,!A? Sarvis said.
Marksmanship training is fundamental to all Soldiers and here too, CSF has changed the way it is taught in basic.
Aca,!A"No longer is an alibi given for a malfunction on the firing range,Aca,!A? said Staff Sgt. Melissa C. Solomon, assigned to the 108th Training Division, and selected as the Army Reserve Drill Sergeant of the Year. Aca,!A"Trainees are required to perform remedial action themselves.Aca,!A?
Other changes include holding the rifle the same way they do in combat instead of a traditional raised hold, she said. A five-round shot group replaces a three-round shot group to better align weapon sights. Also, hitting a bulls-eye on the target is no longer enough. Sometimes two or three well-placed rounds on target are required for score. Aca,!A"We all know that one shot at the enemy might not be enough. It sometimes requires multiple hits for a kill.
Aca,!A"Soldiers learn to shoot like they would in combat,Aca,!A? she continued. Aca,!A"For example, firing around barriers.Aca,!A?
Solomon also provided details about changes in first aid, which reflect current medical best practices. An example she cited was stopping the bleeding before administering an IV.
Sarvis said Soldiers are using smart phones and applications or apps to download Army manuals and videos, which Aca,!A"reinforces training, not taking anything away from the drill sergeant.Aca,!A?
A question and answer session followed. A Soldier in the audience asked if the physical fitness test would change to reflect CSF. Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, another attendee, said changes could come by December of this year from a working group and that the new test would better measure combat readiness.
Another Soldier in attendance, a sergeant major, questioned the Aca,!A"more thinking, less disciplineAca,!A? approach to basic training resulting from CSF, agreeing with parts of the new approach but citing the need to continue to instill obedience. He said he could see two approaches in his two sons, one a specialist and the other a sergeant first class. The younger specialist trained under the new CSF approach and the older son under the more traditional approach. He cautioned for a more balanced approach.