Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. -- The Modern Army Combatives Program at Army Support Activity Fort Dix, N.J., is geared towards training Soldiers for combat, but military personnel aren't the only ones benefitting from the realistic scenarios.
MACP Instructors assigned to 174th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, extend their training services beyond the mobilization mission.
"Our trainers have gained an outstanding reputation for their skills and willingness to assist other organizations," commented Col. Craig A. Osborne, commander, 174th Inf Bde.
"In addition to the standard mobilization and internal brigade training, we recently trained members of the Air Force Apprehension Avoidance program, the Joint Terrorism Task Force with New York Police Department/FBI, conducted a combatives orientation at West Point, have been conducting monthly training with Philadelphia area Army recruits, and are developing a partnership with three local university ROTC programs," Osborne concluded.
"We train all branches of services here, including the Coast Guard," said Sgt. Miles Noonan, a 174th Inf Bde MACP instructor. "We train civilians as well. In fact, we've teamed up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation field agents from areas ranging from Virginia to upstate New York."
The MACP program was conceived in 1995 and was officially inducted into the Army training program in 2002. MACP consists of four levels of training. The 174th instructors possess the capability to teach levels one and two. Levels three and four are taught at Fort Benning, Ga.
The 174th Inf Bde has teamed up with the Joint Training and Training Development Center, located at the joint base, to provide a more realistic training environment for its students. JT2DC is home to concept, exploration, and technology integration initiatives for the National Guard Bureau. It is equipped with four training areas, each simulating environments that the students may encounter. The environment used for this course iteration involved sand, payment, buildings and vehicles.
"We use facilities like this to best recreate combat environments, so we can learn and make our mistakes here," said Noonan. "That way, when we go overseas and have to fight against a resistant opponent in all of our gear, we're able to control the situation using the minimum amount of force necessary and dominate our opponent through superior tactics."
"We train anywhere from 200 to 800 service members a month who are deploying overseas," he said. "We give them a four-hour block of instruction that gives them a basic familiarization. We give them relevant training that's easy to learn, retain, and build on."
Even though the course was developed for military training, individuals like Robert Dell'Aquila, a local community partner and self-defense instructor, have built on the concept. Dell'Aquila and the 174th instructors train together regularly, exchanging new techniques to keep current. A seasoned instructor with better self-defense skills than most, Dell'Aquila said he learns something new each time he attends the course.
"It was great having to sweep in and look around, not knowing where your next threat is going to come from," he said. "That's something I'm going to bring back to my students. We're not always going to be in a nice, open, matted area. There's going to be rocks, obstacles, stairs. This teaches the reality of fighting."
Dell'Aquila participates in the courses approximately two or three times a month. In addition to perfecting his self-defense skills, he also lends a hand to the instructors and a different perspective to the students for when they may find themselves unarmed.
As with any martial arts training, MACP is only useful when it's used often.
"It's always beneficial to go through the courses again because you get a chance to understand the changes that have been adapted and implemented for changing times," said Sgt. 1st Class Cynthia Price, an instructor with the 2nd Brigade, 309th Training Support Battalion, 174th Infantry Brigade. "It's a very perishable skill. We have to train. We have to practice."
Price is scheduled to attend the level three course at Fort Benning, Ga. in January. Price said her intentions are to improve her skill level so she can better instruct students from any background when she returns as a Trainer/Mentor.
"There's so much that you can get from the program," she said. "From a female perspective, from someone not wanting to come into contact with an aggressor, or for someone who has never been in a fight or slapped in the face, you want to develop that muscle memory and get to a point that you don't have to think anymore. You just respond and react effectively."
Price added the number of students from different backgrounds, branches, and jobs makes the training work well. She said the variety adds to the reality of what you would actually face outside of a training situation.
Noonan said versatility is designed to be part of the program.
"MACP is for everybody," said Noonan. "It doesn't matter what your job is, who you are, how big you are, if you're male or female. None of that matters."
"Everything we do in the program, we do for a reason," said Noonan. "We instill that confidence to close with the enemy in close combat, and we also teach soldiers valuable skills that they can use to build their life support system."