Unfit recruits

NY Times:

Dawn breaks at this, the Army’s largest training post, with the reliable sound of fresh recruits marching to their morning exercise. But these days, something looks different.

That familiar standby, the situp, is gone, or almost gone. Exercises that look like pilates or yoga routines are in. And the traditional bane of the new private, the long run, has been downgraded.

This is the Army’s new physical-training program, which has been rolled out this year at its five basic training posts that handle 145,000 recruits a year. Nearly a decade in the making, its official goal is to reduce injuries and better prepare soldiers for the rigors of combat in rough terrain like Afghanistan.

But as much as anything, the program was created to help address one of the most pressing issues facing the military today: overweight and unfit recruits.

When I went through Marine Corps OCS in 1966 I was in pretty good shape, but underweight. The Marines cured that. I gained 30 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks. Some candidates who were overweight lost 30 pounds. However some did not make it. Many of them want onto a short career as a clerk typist.I thought the Marines got us in excellent shape to deal with operations in Vietnam, although the first overnight bivouac in six inches of snow did not count.

If the new training helps the troops get ready for combat in Afghanistan then I am all for it. The recruits still need to be tested for physical endurance because exercise under stress can tell you how they will react to difficulty under fire.


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