US recruits ‘entitled, undisciplined & not fit to throw grenades’ – Basic training chief
The existing Basic Combat Training (BCT) program will be redesigned, Maor General Malcolm Frost, head of the US Army Center of Initial Military Training, told Military.com. The expected overhaul, scheduled to go into effect this summer, is the result of multiple commanders complaining about new soldiers demonstrating undisciplined behavior as well as overall sloppy performance.
“What leaders have observed in general is they believe that there is too much of a sense of entitlement, questioning of lawful orders, not listening to instruction, too much of a buddy mentality with NCOs [non-commissioned officers] and officers and a lot of tardiness being late to formation and duties,” Frost said.
This decision was made after analyzing data from some 27,000 reports from officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers, according to Frost. Boosting discipline and morals of the new soldiers was deemed the top priority.
“The number-one thing that was asked for five-fold or five times as much as any of the other categories was discipline,” he said.
Apart from addressing the recruits’ discipline, the overhaul will also focus on boosting physical training. The standards to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test will be bumped by ten points from 50 to 60 in all three disciplines – push-ups, sit-ups, and a two-mile run. Each recruit will also receive 33 hours of hand-to-hand training instead of 22, according to Frost.
Some of the old-fashioned aspects of training, such as shooting using iron sights only, will also make a comeback. Over the past few years, the recruits have focused on using short-range optics only.
A number of qualification requirements will be dispensed with altogether, as it was deemed too time-consuming to train the recruits to pass them. Among the cuts are hand grenade throwing and a land navigation course. The poor performance in these fields, according to Frost, might be related to the poor overall physique of the recruits and a lack of outdoors activities during their childhood.
“We are finding that there are a large number of trainees that come in that quite frankly just physically don't have the capacity to throw a hand grenade 20 to 25 to 30 meters,” Frost said. “In 10 weeks, we are on a 48-hour period; you are just not going to be able to teach someone how to throw if they haven't thrown growing up.”
While the recruits will still receive training in these fields, the poor results will not count towards their graduation requirements. However, it remains unclear how such new soldiers will perform in combat, since the inability to throw a grenade to at least some 15 meters can be deadly for themselves and their comrades, while the competence to navigate without getting lost also sounds like a nice perk to have for a soldier.
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