By TRADOC for STAND_TO!August 16, 2010
Soldier Athlete Initiative
What is it'
Over the last decade, the Army has seen a decrease in overall fitness of Soldiers entering initial training. To counter societal changes, the Soldier Athlete Initiative is focused on training these Soldiers in a physically holistic way. The initiative emphasizes physical readiness, performance nutrition, and injury prevention to better prepare Soldiers for strenuous training and the difficulty of the battlefield. A Soldier needs to train for conflict just like an athlete trains for a competition. By training, fueling and caring for injuries, Soldiers will be better prepared to face the challenges of full-spectrum operations.
What has the Army done'
Earlier this year, Initial Military Training (IMT) and the Army Physical Fitness School revised physical readiness training, replacing Field Manual 21-20 with Training Circular 3-22.20. The new document provides training appropriate to various levels of fitness. The techniques in the manual properly build muscular strength, aerobic and anaerobic endurances while improving mobility and reducing injuries. Early indicators are that this program is contributing to better PT test scores and less injuries.
Dietitians, food program managers, and Soldiers gathered at the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence in Fort Lee, Va., to set standardized menu options for dining facilities to ensure our newest Soldiers receive a variety of nutrient dense foods and beverages to optimize their performance.
What efforts does the Army have planned'
Mobile Training Teams are introducing the physical readiness program to units and the TC is being distributed. The program, and how to execute, is also on a smart-phone application for download.
Drill Sergeants will provide a one-hour block of instruction, Performance Nutrition, to recruits to help them make the right decisions to fuel their bodies during physically demanding work. These lessons will be reemphasized at the DFAC's(Defense Facilities Administration Center) where food and beverages will be labeled to help Soldiers make the right performance focused choices.
The surgeon general of the Army has started a pilot program to prevent and treat the injuries during basic training. Introducing Muscular-Skeletal Action Teams to various training units, physical therapists, athletic trainers and other experts will soon assist with the conditioning and injury prevention and treatment.
Vending machines during advanced individual training will also carry more options and recovery snacks will be provided during Brigade Combat Training to accelerate performance.
Why is this important to the Army'
Our Soldiers must perform and excel at Soldiering at a professional level, just like any world-class athlete. Being physical ready to take on demands their bodies will endure in battle requires fundamental training and education, and changes to some of the ways we have introduced physical fitness and nutrition.
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Related article: New training initiative prepares Soldiers as Athletes