Update and bump: This story seems to be in the news this week, so I thought I’d let you see my take on things if you missed it the first time.
When I first saw this, I just about went apoplectic about the Army going soft. But I read a little further, and am willing to concede the point.
First, the outrage:
One of the changes Hertling wants to implement is the elimination of bayonet drills, a longtime staple of BCT.
My dander got up. We’re in the middle of a shooting war, and they want to cut one of the few things that plants the idea in a troop’s head that war isn’t Nintendo?
But things get much better:
Hertling also wants Soldiers to focus less on traditional combatives moves such as grappling and, focus instead on fighting with their hands and knives or other objects.
He said Soldiers need to learn how to fight with their hands to make their combat skills more suited to existing battlefield conditions.
“The great majority of our Soldiers come into training having never had a fistfight,” Hertling said.
And he’s got a point. I thought back to the bayonet training that I went through back in the Stone Age (1985), and now recall that it wasn’t terribly practical. And the hand-to-hand wasn’t all that great either. Far more useful was the day to day wrasslin’ we ended up doing once we got to our units. A common introduction to a new troop was the “dogpile” where the new guy gets tackled by the whole platoon. As a new troop, you’re expected to resist to the best of your ability. In the end, you’re gonna go down, but you damn well better go down swinging.
But that was a quarter century ago. I wonder how many young guys today have had that kind of experience prior to the Army. With the exception of high school football players, how many young men today have any experience with a full contact sport? How many can take a punch? How many are ready for the brutality of modern warfare.
We, as a nation and an Army, owe it to our young soldiers to prepare them.