Basic training might be lengthened, says Army secretary

| April 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. Army trainees assigned to Foxtrot, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment run to the company area on the first day of basic combat training on June 12, 2017 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart)

U.S. Army trainees assigned to Foxtrot, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment run to the company area on the first day of basic combat training on June 12, 2017, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart)

David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — The Army wants Soldiers who complete basic combat training and advanced individual training to be ready to deploy “on day one” once they reach their units, said Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper.

As such, the Army is considering lengthening training so that new Soldiers are better indoctrinated into Army culture and values, are physically fit, and technically and tactically more proficient, he said.

Esper spoke of the Army’s future vision at an Association of the U.S. Army luncheon, earlier this month.

Regarding the fitness aspect, Esper noted that the increase in U.S. childhood obesity makes it a challenge to find recruits who can meet the Army’s physical fitness standards. In order to increase fitness for combat and reduce injuries, the Army is moving to introduce a new physical fitness regimen that correlates more closely with the rigors of combat.

Basic combat training Soldiers in A Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery participate in an Army Research Institute study Oct. 18, 2016, by filling out a survey here. About 1,000 BCT Soldiers at Fort Sill participated in the study, which will be used to create a tool to help recruits select their military occupational specialty. (Photo by Tamico PayneJordan, 434th Field Artillery Brigade Public Affairs)

Basic combat training Soldiers in A Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery participate in an Army Research Institute study in October 2016 by filling out a survey. About 1,000 BCT Soldiers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, participated in the study, which will be used to create a tool to help recruits select their military occupational specialty. (Photo by Tamico Payne Jordan, 434th Field Artillery Brigade Public Affairs)

About a week ago, the secretary said he worked out with Soldiers at Fort Drum who were using this type of combat fitness training. He said he was impressed and would like to see that type of training adopted Army-wide.

Partly due to fitness issues, only 29 percent of America’s youth are eligible to serve and only 4 percent of the population are both eligible and have the proclivity to serve, he said.

The low percentage of proclivity to serve is due in large measure to lack of family or friend role models, such as uncles or grandparents who are veterans, he said. He noted that another factor is myths about people in uniform not functioning well in society after they transition.

In order to reach out to youth and their parents, he said the Army will take a more proactive approach to recruiting and marketing.

• Hiring reform

Esper spoke about a number of other topics during a question and answer period.

The civilian hiring process needs to be vastly improved, he said. On the Soldier side, the Army is moving to a talent management system in which military occupational specialties and assignments are predicated on “knowledge, skills, attributes and preferences to better marry up the needs of the Army with the individuals.”

On the civilian side, he said it now takes an average of 140 days to hire someone, discouraging many from service. He said he’d like to get that down to just a few weeks.

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 January 2008 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Micky M. Bazaldua)

• Service reform

Esper said Soldiers are making permanent change of station moves too frequently, and he’d like to slow the pace.

Slowing the pace, he said, would give more time for Soldiers to form unit cohesion. It would also give spouses more time for their careers and be less disruptive for kids in school.

Regarding required online training, Esper said there’s just too much. He wants noncommissioned officers to do more of the training face-to-face with their troops.

“The Army NCO Corps is the best in the world bar none,” he said.

Esper also wants NCOs to be with the troops after hours and on weekends in the barracks, to coach and mentor them and keep them out of trouble.

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Category: Army News Service, Leadership, News

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