CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT- Soldiers on the battlefield cannot always rely on their weapons to save their lives; weapons malfunction, ammunition runs out, and there may be times when the mission parameters prohibit their use. The U.S. Army Combatives program is intended to give Soldiers the tools they need to survive in these scenarios.
Soldiers of the 369th Sustainment Brigade, currently deployed to Kuwait, were recently given the opportunity to take the Army Combatives Level One course at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The course is designed to not only familiarize Soldiers with the basics of hand-to-hand combat but also give them the knowledge and skills to train other Soldiers in their units.
"The instructors put a lot of emphasis on the fact that it was not just a course in self-defense," said Sgt. 1st Class Darryl Joseph of the 369th Sustainment Brigade. "Training to standard, learning and retaining the information is important because it is a train the trainer course, designed so certified Soldiers can go back to their units and teach their seniors, peers, and subordinates."
Some of the fundamentals covered in the course are maintaining situational awareness, fighting posture, and the ability to remain calm during a fight. Another key element of the course is the fact that size doesn't matter. A combatant cannot always depend on their size and strength to win a fight.
"This course is aimed towards combatants out in the battlefield," said Master Sgt. Luis E. Barsallo of the 369th Sustainment Brigade, the lead instructor of the course.
Barsallo is a level two instructor and has been teaching Combatives for the last five years. He also has a background in different martial arts such as Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, Muay Thai kickboxing, and Krav Maga.
"I think this class helps Soldiers be more confident and it helps them learn how to teach, it builds their self-confidence, gives them courage," said Barsallo, "I think those are good attributes to have when you go out to the battlefield."
The course emphasizes that Soldiers need to be prepared to use force when presented with a threat to protect themselves, their fellow Soldiers, and innocents on the battlefield. The training aims to give Soldiers the knowledge and skills to approach a potentially dangerous situation with confidence, allowing the individual to remain calm and in control.
"Before taking the Combatives Level One Course, I had little-to-no knowledge of grappling or ground fighting, besides what I saw while watching a fight on television," said Joseph. "After taking the course, I am confident that I could handle myself if ever put in the position to use what I have learned."
The Army Combatives program has four levels of instruction. Level One consists of 40 hours of training and Soldiers who complete this course are then able to teach the techniques they have learned to a platoon sized element. Level Two is an 80-hour course, after which, Soldiers can supervise Level One Instructors and referee competitions.
The Level Three Course is 160-hours that teaches Soldiers to instruct striking and weapons fighting. They may now also referee intermediate competitions and certify Level One Instructors. Finally, after completing the 160 hour Level Four course, Soldiers can run installation-level programs, referee advanced competitions and certify Level Two instructors.
"I have to say that though it was only a 4-day course, it was one still of the most physically and mentally demanding courses I have taken thus far," said Joseph.