Army has changed its basic training

| October 23, 2015 | 0 Comments
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Micky M. Bazaldua Army recruits complete an obstacle during basic combat training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Jan. 16, 2008.

New soldiers in U.S. Army basic combat training complete obstacles at Victory Tower in 2008 at Fort Jackson, S.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Micky M. Bazaldua)

In Part 4, safer PT, training the trainer, other issues noted

Todd Lopez
Army News Service

“When Soldiers come in, they know nothing about how the Army conducts physical fitness,” said Thriso Hamilton Jr., a key designer of the new Basic Combat Training (BCT) program of instruction.

“If you go to a gym to work out, one of the most important things the trainer can do for you is teach you proper technique,” he added.

The Army will now ensure Soldiers are doing physical readiness training, or PRT, with the proper technique, so that they can do it safely, Hamilton said.

Now, during the first two weeks of red phase at the beginning of BCT, Soldiers will learn how to do PRT in a session that is separate from where they actually perform the PRT.

The Army estimates that with new Soldiers, their mental and physical capacity to absorb large amounts of new information during PRT sessions hinders the ability of a unit to exploit good conditioning. By separating the teaching of PRT from actually doing the PRT, new Soldiers will better be able to absorb instruction regarding correct movement patterns, cadence, precision and body positioning as they relate to PRT.

“This ensures the Soldiers conduct exercises properly,” Hamilton said. “When they do that and you train them correctly the first time, it reduces injuries because they aren’t performing exercises in an incorrect manner.”

• Additional changes

To increase the ability of Soldiers to find their way home, or a combat objective, the Army has changed the land navigation portion of BCT by reducing the amount of classroom instruction, creating more demanding end-of-course land navigation evaluations and changing from four-man land navigation teams in training to two-man land navigation teams.

Smaller teams means a decreased likelihood that Soldiers with less-developed knowledge of land navigation will be able to simply “tag along” with more skilled Soldiers.

Beginning this month, Soldiers will be introduced to fewer weapons than they have been in the past. The M16 and M4 series rifles are still the centerpieces of weapons training for Soldiers, but familiarization with weapons that are less common among Soldiers, or that are similar in function and operation to weapons that remain in BCT, will instead be moved to a Soldier’s first unit of assignment.

Soldiers coming into BCT in October can also expect to get more training and use of weapons optics, as well as expect to shoot more often in full battle gear, as they would in actual combat, said a designer.

• Training the trainer

While BCT will change in October, the curriculum over at the Army’s Drill Sergeant Academy at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, has already changed to prepare new drill sergeants to teach the new BCT program of instruction.

“There’s a lot more emphasis on ‘this is the weapon; this is how you use it’ and more in-depth detail on how to operate the weapon,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ryan McCaffrey, a drill sergeant leader at the drill sergeant school. “It’s the same with PRT. We are trying to get the sergeants to understand the concepts of PRT and understand why we do movements the way we do.”

McCaffrey said drill sergeants would be able to explain “why we do push-ups or why we do the different exercise and condition drills and tie it into the warrior tasks and battle drills. Then Soldiers understand how their physical training ties into what they do on the battlefield.”

McCaffrey, who was a former Drill Sergeant of the Year for the Army Reserve, said that new instruction in the drill sergeant school also prepares noncommissioned officers for incoming Soldiers who are accustomed to asking a lot of questions. He said there is a course now in Drill Sergeant Academy that addresses the topic of “Generation Y,” the generation now coming through basic training.

“They are more apt to ask questions, and question why we do things,” McCaffrey said. “I think once a person understands why you are supposed to do a task, they take more ownership of it, and they are more willing to execute it properly. We discuss that in class. We are not looking for Solders that just say yes and no. We want Soldiers who can think.”

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Category: Army News Service, News, Safety, Training

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