FORT HOOD, Texas-The Army combatives program is more than competing in an eight-sided ring. The program is designed to train Soldiers on how to remain calm and focused in close-quarter combat.

Level three and four trainers with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade kicked-off the unit's newly developed 80-hour combatives program with 13 level one certified participants at the Stryker Gym, here, Feb. 28 to March 8.

The trainers molded their tactical combatives program also known as level two, in a train the trainer class to emulate the basic concepts of the Army combatives program and in accordance with FM 3-25.150.

"According to AR 350-1 and the combatives regulation, the Department of the Army requires all Soldiers to be level one qualified," said Sgt. 1st Class James Platt, from Tulsa, Okla., the fires platoon sergeant, Btry. C, 2nd Bat., 20th FA Regt.

Platt, who is level four certified, said that they do an intense physical fitness session in the morning to tire out their Soldiers for class.

"You have to constantly think, plan, and be ready no matter what. You never know when you're in a close-quarter situation and you have to defend yourself," he said. "We try to instill technique and skills in our Soldiers that will allow them to remain calm during stressful situations. It's easy to talk tough but once you're touched or taken to the ground, you never know what you're going to do."

"Every Soldier comes from different walks of life," said 1st Sgt. Edgar Fuentes, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Bat., 20th FA Regt. "Some Soldiers have never fought a day in their lives. So our combatives training will help them and all Soldiers develop confidence in their physical abilities and leadership skills in a controlled environment. But most importantly, our program isn't designed to create fighters. We're preparing our Soldiers for combat, not the MMA."

The Soldiers also endure a rigorous PT session to mitigate potential risks to each other.
"Besides building up our Soldiers bodies, we need them tired," said Sgt. Nicholas Weisenberger, from Tracy, Calif., a multiple launch rocket system section chief with Btry. A. "We can't have the Soldiers going full strength with each other. By them being tired, they are forced to rely on techniques rather than strength."

Combatives, like any other specialized training, is a perishable skill. The leadership wanted to increase the number of certified trainers in the battalion to help everyone become level one certified.

"For most of the Soldiers in the Army, the only time they will participate in combatives training is during basic training," said Pfc. Joshua Matthews, from Middletown, N.J. "I'm glad that I'm in a unit where they take combatives serious. It's something everyone should know."

The level two combatives training course also includes a tactical portion where Soldiers run through room clearing scenarios, vehicle searches and extractions, handcuffing techniques, and weapon strikes; all in which the Soldiers will have to use certain techniques in order to subdue the threat.

"We want our program to be as real as possible and combat effective," said Weisenberger. "We train our guys to fight through their pain here so they'll be ready to fight downrange. Just because something becomes uncomfortable to you doesn't mean it's something you should quit fighting for."

Through all the fighting and testing the newly certified trainers will go back to their units to repeat what they learned throughout the last two weeks. The new trainers will start a new mission where they will continue to train everyone to ensure all of Deep Strike becomes level one certified.