By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)February 11, 2016
The Modern Army Combatives Program schoolhouse, run by 5th Engineer Battalion, has made it their mission to prove that Fort Leonard Wood has the best-trained Soldiers in the Army.
With individual and team wins at the All-Army Combatives Tournament, All-Armed Forces Invitational Tournament, the 5th Engr. Bn. school has proved they are on their way.
Sgt. Anthony Hampton, noncommissioned officer in charge of the school, gives credit to its instructors for the success of the program.
"The secret to our success is the passion and the love for the program," he said. "Each instructor is hand chosen, and therefore the quality of training is always top notch. I am confident in each instructor and would put them up against the best of the best."
Former NCOIC, Sgt. Brandon Bunner, established the school in 2013 with the mission of getting every Soldier attached to the battalion trained to the first level of the MACP. Bunner wasn't just satisfied with training the one battalion, so they opened the doors to anyone wanting to train.
"The school is still owned and operated by 5th Engr. Bn., however, we have a passion for what we do, and we are not going to turn anyone away," Bunner said.
MACP is broken down into three levels, basic, tactical and master trainer. Soldiers are given a basic introduction to MACP at Basic Combat Training, and again during Advanced Individual Training, but there is currently no Army-wide requirement for Soldiers to certify at any level, Bunner said.
It is not about training Soldiers to become professional fighters, Bunner said. Each level builds on the previous to train Soldiers to be effective in combat.
"We are not UFC. We are not MMA. We are Army Combatives" he said. "We are not here to train UFC fighters; we are here to teach Soldiers to survive in combat."
When word got out the school was training anyone and everyone, Marines wanting to learn about the program started to showup, Bunner said. Although the Marines have their own hand-to-hand program, the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, that hasn't stopped the Soldiers and Marines from cross training.
Bunner hopes that is a glimpse into what the future holds for the school.
"I am hoping to build this program in to an Armed Forces Combative facility with Marines and Soldiers under one roof," he said.
The Navy and Air Force don't currently have hand-to-hand combat programs, but they wouldn't be excluded if they wanted to learn, Bunner added.
Hampton agreed and added the school will need to build up to that point.
"I hope to one day see this as a Fort Leonard Wood, post-wide program," he said. "Where we could grow and turn this facility into one of the premier combative facilities in the United States Army."
The school is open year round for Soldiers wanting to certify at each level of MACP, with classes filling up quickly.
The school is also open for skills training from 6 to 7:30 a.m. every weekday, except holidays. One instructor is also available at 2 p.m. Sundays for open mat training.