CHESTER HAS MOVED!: Changes to Army Recruit Training

Monday, November 29, 2004

Changes to Army Recruit Training

After being shocked by the performance of its 507th Maintenance Company soldiers suring the invasion of Iraq -- among whose number was Jessica Lynch, the US Army now plans to train every recruit in combat skills during basic training. See today's LA Times story, Every Enlistee First a Warrior. Preparing your troops to fight, either offensively or defensively, should be a no-brainer, given the tenets of maneuver warfare, which the US does not monopolize -- insurgents follow them as well: don't reinforce failure, reinforce success; aim for enemy weaknesses, not strengths; attack critical nodes -- the most important of which is known as the center of gravity -- via critical vulnerabilities in the enemy's overall makeup and composition. Non-combat troops who expect to never be involved in a firefight could easily be a critical vulnerability -- especially when they are given weapons and told to defend themselves anyway -- though they have little or no training for such situations. They can in fact become dangerous to their own forces at that point, as their lack of skill translates into friendly-fire. A close look at this article is required and I'm inserting it, along with my comments in brackets below. Readers will forgive me if I cannot help but to look at this issue from the viewpoint of a Marine -- I'll try to remember that the Army is a much, much larger force with differing goals. ------------------------------------------------------ Los Angeles Times November 29, 2004 Pg. 1 Every Enlistee First A Warrior In a dramatic overhaul, boot camp goes beyond the old basics, training even those in normally noncombat jobs to fight in a new kind of war. By Faye Fiore, Times Staff Writer FT. BENNING, Ga. — The soldiers from Echo Company sit in a noisy chow hall, tired but on the brink of a milestone. In two days, they will complete basic training as grueling as the Army has ever dished out. And in a matter of weeks, many of them will be on the ground in Iraq. "My wife said, 'Don't join the infantry,' and I promised her I wouldn't," said Army Spc. Jonathan Hernandez, 29, a former history teacher from Niceville, Fla. "Now I realize it doesn't matter. The enemy doesn't care if they are firing at a financial specialist or somebody in the infantry." [Is Specialist Hernandez still in basic training? If so, why is he already a Specialist? How can he be an E4 already? Bizarre.] Today's casualty lists are riddled with cooks, mechanics, mail clerks — all theoretically noncombat jobs. But yesterday's boot camp did not prepare soldiers for the cities and deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, where the theater of battle is all around. [The author attacheds too much importance to geography and the particulars of our current war here. ANY place where the US is engaged in a long war will be more dangerous for our non-combat troops -- because long wars mean more non-combat troops are needed. The same issues of the fluidity of the battlefield that are supposedly so vexing to the Army non-combat forces would have also existed in any number of past engagements, had there been untrained non-combat forces involved -- take Somalia for instance.] As a result, combat training is undergoing its most dramatic overhaul since Vietnam. And as the war in Iraq forces America's military to change, the storied rigors of boot camp have become ever more rigorous. "Whenever you go into a combat environment, there are going to be challenges you didn't foresee," said Col. William J. Gallagher, commander of the Basic Combat Training Brigade at Ft. Benning. "We are fighting a smart, adaptive enemy. They have technology and they have money and they are going to come up with ways to get us that we didn't expect." But as a downsized, undersupplied force strains to fight a stubborn insurgency, it does not have the luxury of time. The Army finds itself with much more to teach its combat-bound recruits, and the same 63 basic training days to teach it. [Would the author prefer no war were being fought now? Or would he prefer we had a much larger Army, and even more money were spent on supplying it? My guess is that he would complain either way. Cramming all of this into the basic course of nine weeks doesn't seem like it will be incredibly effective. It takes much longer to make a Marine: 13 weeks of basic training, then a full month of nothing but combat skills for non-combat Marines, then they go on to their specialty schools.] So today's new soldier averages five hours of sleep a night instead of seven. The day still begins at dawn and lasts past dinner, but core training pushes further into the night, eating into time once used for review and reinforcement of the day's lessons. Sundays, once set aside for worship, laundry and phone calls home, are no longer guaranteed "light." ["The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war." -- Patton, I think.] "If I said I wasn't tired, I'd be lying," said Hernandez, who was so determined to serve he lost 110 pounds to qualify for enlistment. The March 2003 ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company from Ft. Bliss, Texas, was a wake-up call for American armed forces. Eleven combat-support soldiers were killed and six more captured — including Pvt. Jessica Lynch — lending urgency to the need to train every volunteer as a warrior. After the 507th ambush, a task force spent a year brainstorming ways to avoid another such catastrophe. The members came up with a set of new tasks and battle drills considered essential for survival, and suggested adding an extra three weeks of training to teach them. But each day of added training meant a decline in the number of soldiers available for combat. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker ordered the command to find a way to fit the new curriculum into the existing nine weeks. Instructors prioritized. The traditional marching competition was dropped, and protocol lessons were shortened. Standard courses were made more relevant to today's war. Basic radio communications now includes ways the enemy uses cellphones to detonate bombs. [A quick opinion I have felt strongly about for awhile: marching, or drill, is very effective for building esprit de corps within a given unit, but that is about as far as it goes. When Washington was in Valley Forge, he found the biggest patch of grass there and marched his Army for weeks. A good idea, as this was how they fought back then. Now we fight in very different and more complicated ways, and I have always felt that the time spent marching would be better spent on other tasks. I am probably in the minority on this one.] Gallagher believes instructors have struck a balance, maximizing every available moment without stressing soldiers to a point of diminished returns. For the recruits, it wasn't exactly what they expected when a bus deposited them at the gate nine weeks ago. The plan for many had been to learn an Army trade, to make an important contribution and still keep a safe distance from enemy lines. Instead, before they knew it, they were learning to avoid landmines, survive an ambush and spot roadside bombs disguised as cans of Coke. [Why is it not what they expected? If we recruit civilians with promises of seeing the world, getting into college, or making a better life for themselves, we will end up with recruits with a sense of entitlement for a variety of benefits -- though of course most will perform superbly. If we recruit based on the concepts of honor and desire to fight, then we will get a better force. Admiral Stockdale had similar comments in a book he wrote in the 80's, I think.] "They go from being a high school kid to a soldier on the ground in Iraq, and if they get ambushed, they have to know hand-to-hand combat," said retired Army Gen. Randall L. Rigby, a former deputy commandant in charge of training. "The old chestnut that only the infantry takes the blows is gone." Many of the thousands of new recruits who file into Ft. Benning every year are as young as 17 or as old as 35. Some of them are still fighting acne, others middle-aged paunches. But they all are presented with the same stark odds: Half will deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan as soon as 30 days after completing initial training. The rest can expect to go sometime during their first enlistment. The infantry soldiers — those who specialize in combat — complete their course in 14 weeks. The combat-support troops train for nine weeks before learning a specific job. But under the Army's new philosophy, they all must be warriors first. [Why separate the combat and non-combt forces for basic training? Why not keep them all together, then send them to their separate specialty schools? The answer, young Jedi, is gender. Stop right now and go read the book "A Kinder, Gentler Military," and you will see why a force that has integrated gender basic training cannot then also have basic training integrated with combat and non-combat specialties. Such are the issues we must discuss if we are to improve our Army.] "When you land in Baghdad International Airport and get in a convoy to go someplace, you are in your first potential combat right then and there," Gallagher told a group of about 200 fresh volunteers, so new their hair was shorn to the scalp and their running shoes were still white. The road signs into Ft. Benning caution motorists to limit their speed to 15 mph to protect soldiers up and out before dawn. At 5:30 one recent morning, Charlie Company was setting off on a three-mile run and Bravo was on the ground, doing sit-ups in the dark. If the volunteers have little in common when they enter, they share a good deal by the time they leave. Reflexively, their eyes dart across the landscape, looking for anything out of order — a truck parked askew, a lump under a blanket. They can fight hand-to-hand combat, move under live fire, clear a house on a mock Iraqi street. To get them there, instructors are encouraged to be creative. They plant mock explosives along running trails and under rucksacks. One brought in his 7-year-old son — innocent one moment, cradling a dummy grenade the next — for a field exercise illustrating when to shoot and when to hold fire. The total time in the field — spent in the woods that spill into Alabama — has been expanded from three days to 14. It is there that the trainees face their biggest challenges. They confront simulated ambushes. Sleep is interrupted. Food is not always available. (In one scenario, the dinner truck is blown up by a suicide bomber, and no one eats that night.) [Good, good, good.] They become proficient with their M-16s, carrying them everywhere except the chapel and the clinic. But — in another new feature of basic training — now they are also taught to load, clear and shoot just about any weapon their unit might carry. [Ditto.] "If the machine-gunner is hurt or killed, they can lay down fire against an enemy," said Col. Kevin A. Shwedo of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command in Virginia. "You don't have to be real good at it to have one hell of an effect." The training regimen is constantly responding to lessons learned on the ground. When insurgents began to ambush convoys, the Army beefed up convoy instruction, teaching soldiers, among other things, to sit facing the street, rather than with their backs to it. Information about roadside bombs, once a mere mention, is now a formal course. First-aid training is more extensive. Soldiers practice with tourniquets in an attempt to minimize the wounds that have sent thousands home as amputees. The greatest challenge for Army trainers is not figuring out what to teach, but what to leave out. "It's a constant effort to prioritize," Gallagher said. "I can always think of 10 new things to do." Resources remain a problem. The Army decrees that today's new soldier wear body armor, shoot while using night-vision goggles and handle a machine gun. But all the available equipment is needed overseas, leaving little or nothing for hands-on training. [Shouldn't matter if you are creative. Was it George Marshall who trained the US Army with broomsticks, or Omar Bradley? Sometime in the 30's.] "It's a process," Gallagher said. "We are on a glide path to being fully resourced on everything we need. The Army hasn't stiffed us." But some training instructors and military experts say there ought to be enough to go around. [Well who will argue about that? But again, when the DoD budget is increased by another 20%, will the LA Times write an editorial praising this move?] "When you have a nation at war, you might want to take a look at your priorities," said Rigby, a retired three-star general. The average cost of nine-week basic training averages $14,500 per soldier, but is expected to rise significantly as more training and equipment is added. A formal study is planned early next year to measure the effectiveness of the training. Meanwhile, reports from commanders in the field suggest soldiers are hitting the ground well-prepared, officers said. "They seem more motivated, more confident," said Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Smith, a drill instructor here. "Soldiers are different now." The new training has been more than many soldiers expected, but not more than they could manage. Sitting in the chow hall over trays of today's Army fare — meat patties swimming in a Spanish sauce — several Echo Company soldiers talked about the likelihood of going to Iraq. Some were eager to take their skills to war, others resigned to the fact they might have to. But all said they felt prepared. "Pay attention to details; focus on your surroundings. I am very alert," said Pfc. Donyval Coley, 22, a former massage therapist who enlisted because of the Sept. 11 attacks. Reciting lessons learned in training, he said it would be "just a matter of time" before he was asked to use them. Derek Gonzales, 18, who graduated in June from Tipton High School in Missouri, grew up in the little town of Syracuse, population 172, and joined the Army in part because his father thought it would be good for him. Gonzales didn't figure on actually landing in Iraq when he enlisted, but he is resigned to the possibility. "I'll do this because it's my duty that I have to serve the country and everything, but … " He stopped without finishing the thought. The cars began to file through the gate at 8 a.m. for Family Day, a pregraduation ritual held to hand out awards of excellence and give soldiers their first free day in weeks. Parents and spouses mingled outside, waiting for Echo Company to arrive. The Army has made it clear that these new soldiers will go to Iraq and fight this war. But the message does not seem to have registered beyond the boundaries of the base. Andrea Denoncour, 23, found even the relatively brief separation from her husband, Jacob, 22, harder than she expected. He joined the Army to pay off his college loans and to use the $6,000 signing bonus to furnish their apartment. But that plan seemed pointless to her now, and the idea of him going to war too painful to fathom. [See comments above about incentives to enlist vs. desire to fight.] "Now I don't even remember why we decided he should do this," she said, picking up their 2-year-old daughter, Lillian, and trying not to cry. Her father-in-law moved to comfort her. "He's regular Army, not infantry. I don't worry about him going to Iraq as much," Joe Denoncour, 50, a postal worker from Epping, N.H., tried to assure her. The chant of cadence rose in the distance, growing to a thunder as the new soldiers marched in. The slumped posture and undisciplined gazes of nine weeks ago had yielded to straight backs and eyes front. They donned their black berets for the first time, then fell out, into the arms of teary mothers and anxious wives. Retired Lt. Col. Sion Harrington II of Erwin, N.C., had come to see his son-in-law graduate. He stood and observed the scene, remembering his own deployments. "I can't help wondering how many parents understand what their son is getting into," he said. A few yards away in the parking lot, Becky Price, 49, of Willow River, Minn., held her boy in her arms and cried. He must have looked very different — the hair, the gleaming shoes, the starched green shirt. "I have faith he'll be fine," she said, certain that wherever he ended up, he would remain safely "on base." But Pvt. Troy Price, 19 years old, knew better. [Americans should immediately forget these notions. There is no such thing as safety on a base, and the next time the US engages a well-trained state-sponsored military force, rather than a group of insurgents, we will see.] [Last question: Is the Army changing officer training as well? Are non-combat officers being taught how to organize defenses or lead counterattacks? Thousands of newly-minted Privates are useless without a command that knows how to employ their battle skills.]

16 Comments:

Blogger Paul13 said...

When I spoke to ex-soldiers here in the German army I was always shocked to hear that they hardly did anything more than shoot a few rounds from their assault rifles at fixed targets, tried a machine gun once, threw one hand grenade and that's been it. They never knew anything about how to fire an RPG or the like, not to mention a simple Kalashnikov or other weapons of their potential enemies. Instead they had a lot of time sitting bored in their barracks, cleaning floors, playing cards, getting drunk and waiting for the weekend.

It's good to hear that at least in the US forces they reconsider this now. Not only that this would free combat units from "bodyguard" duties but it also would save lives (although not necessarily the terrorist's ones ;-). Hopefully these soldiers also get a tactical training upgrade, because in a modern army also logistics units should be able to fight as a light infantry team of the same size. Even if they would be only as good as a reserve unit it would require attackers to take much higher risks.

November 29, 2004 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger TalkinMan said...

Hi Chester,

"I'll do this because it's my duty that I have to serve the country and everything, but … " He stopped without finishing the thought.

I'm not surprised that the writer would toss in this comment. How would the LA Times think that sentence would conclude? I'd guess he would finish it by saying "but... I'm not an idiot - like everyone, I don't want to go to war and take the chance I'd be killed. But I signed up with full knowledge that I might be called to serve in Iraq, and I'm here to do just that."

Instead, the writer gives the (in my opinion, false) impression that the soldier doesn't support the Iraq campaign. The Times would conclude the sentence with "but... this is an illegitimate war, and we all know it's all blood for oil, man."

Interesting quote, but I think the writer should have either asked what the soldier meant, or left the quote out entirely instead of using it as an angle.

November 29, 2004 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From thebronze:

"When insurgents began to ambush convoys, the Army beefed up convoy instruction, teaching soldiers, among other things, to sit facing the street, rather than with their backs to it."

WTF? This is common sense/boot camp/tactics 101, why does the Army figure this out after-the-fact?

I guess that's why the Army is the Army, and the Corps is the Corps.

Semper Fi!

November 29, 2004 at 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a prior service member of the US Army, I would like to take this opportunity to answer some of the questions you raised during your opinions of the article "Every Enlistee First a Warrior".

First off the questions concerning how a "recruit" can start out the box at E-4. Simple. This is part of the US Army's continued sales pitch to get recruits in the first place. Between the rank for college plan and the "bring in a friend" it is possible to get a starting rank at E-4 before you've drawn your first A bag of equipment.

For the low low price of 120+ hours of college or a Bachelors degree any recruit can start as an E-4. For 30+ hours you can start as an E-2...so on and so on. This is all tied in to the attempts at meeting the recruiting goals.

I do have to agree with on the Drill and Ceremony bit...I thought it was a waste of time to. It just looses it's purpose when you don't need to train up with a 14 pound long rifle. But in the US Army it is a center piece to all that is holy. It's removeal from the curiculum could instantly provide a good two weeks of time for other things.

Why would new recruits expect less than a full octane basic training? Because that is what they are sold. And the US Army's intense branch system (infantry, artillery, quartermaster, etc...) both supports and propogates it.

Your comments on the need for seperate, non-combat basic training versus combat training are not quite correct. It is not a about a gender thing...it's about the US Army's branch system. In the US Army there are three levels of basic...well...there were. And I don't believe any ciriculum changes really have effected it. There are OSUT (One Station Unit Training), Combat Arms basic training, and non-combat arms. There is no difference in the first 9 weeks for all intense and purposes. The difference is that during OSUT the Basic and Advanced Individual Training is combined. In the US Army AIT is where recruits learn their jobs. US Army Infantry training is pretty much 13-14 weeks, combining basic and infantry training all in one. Same for most combat arms...or primary combat arms. Secondary combat arms such as Cannon Fire Direction Specialist, although a combat arms MOS is seperated.

The branch system and the US Army's concept of training is responsible for that..not gender. Because currenly none of the land component combat arms MOS's is open to women, so non-OSUT combat arms do the same thing in basic as non-combat MOS's do. Gender has nothing to do with it. The US Army branch culture is responsible for that.

Budget concerns would not change any thing. US Army soldiers in the late 30's trained with wooded replicas simply because the US Army culture has been one of conscription...and all training was geared towards that. It still is even though the conscription model has been replaced by a "volunteer" model. When you raise a 2 million man US Army over the course of a couple years your industrial complex has to catch up. That was the problem in the 30's. The problem now is a waste in funds and a historical inter-service budget battle that provides money based on politics and not on true need.

The US Marine Corps dealt with that for a while...having less than 2.5% of the Dept. of the Navy's budget. The US Army has spent it's money poorly, trying to keep up with the inter-service arms race with the Air Force and Navy...a race it has lost. And one that has left fewer funds than should be there...but even if a blank check was written things would not improve for the US Army because it's branch culture, and 2nd Generation Warfare model is out dated and wrong.

Your comment on soldiers desire to fight vs. the desire to enlist is on point...but as Col. Grossman points out in his book "On Killing", approximately 2% of a nations populace have a desire to shepherd the other 98%. And as such they tend to gravitate to the professions of the military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue. If one does a quick analysis one can clearly see that the smaller US Marine Corps has about the same percentage of those 2%'ers per capita in comparison to the US Army, Air Force, and Navy. But as with the US Army, those born "warriors" gravitate to not only combat arms roles, but even further to units on the edge the US Army spear...Airborne, Ranger, and Special Operations.

The US Marine Corps, being smaller in number enjoys a special role in that almost the entire Corps is made up of warriors from that 2% category. In comparison to the US Army where they are centered in the 82nd Airborne, the Rangers, and primarily those 2% with longevity and experience find themselves drawn to the Special Forces Groups.

It is not a stretch to see that the US Army being much larger in man power would have a much higher number of non-2%'ers. And as such a large number of enlisted personnel who have a desire to serve...but none to fight.

As I was not an officer, and do not keep up with issues concerning Basic Officer Course, etc...I can not comment on your final question. But I can hazzard a guess...No. I would imagine that the training has not change much for officers. NCO's are those truely responsible for life at the tactical level in the US Army. A system that once again takes us into long term issues plaquing the US Army.

Do I believe that US Army basic training should be more like US Marine Corps boot...yes and no. I, and others sharing my feelings believe that US Army basic should provide a 14 week course that gradually places recruits further and further into a basic infantry training mode. One that has them living in the field by the last half of the 14 weeks. Where they train exclusively for combat and learn all primary skills for combat, and begin an un-armed combat system very near the US Marine Corps system (I do not agree with the total curriculum...but applaud the Corps for it's ground breaking role in the area of training). The US Army must immediatly break the Branch culture, and must immediately provide a training curriculm that high lights all primary combat skills found in basic or provisional infantry functions. And once rigurous testing has been passed recruits can move onto their MOS specific traing. Which if that would be infantry...would provide the most advanced light and mechanized infantry training (combined of course) in the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read my responses.

C.Louviere
Sulphur, LA
tele_2319@yahoo.com

November 29, 2004 at 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a prior service member of the US Army, I would like to take this opportunity to answer some of the questions you raised during your opinions of the article "Every Enlistee First a Warrior".

First off the questions concerning how a "recruit" can start out the box at E-4. Simple. This is part of the US Army's continued sales pitch to get recruits in the first place. Between the rank for college plan and the "bring in a friend" it is possible to get a starting rank at E-4 before you've drawn your first A bag of equipment.

For the low low price of 120+ hours of college or a Bachelors degree any recruit can start as an E-4. For 30+ hours you can start as an E-2...so on and so on. This is all tied in to the attempts at meeting the recruiting goals.

I do have to agree with on the Drill and Ceremony bit...I thought it was a waste of time to. It just looses it's purpose when you don't need to train up with a 14 pound long rifle. But in the US Army it is a center piece to all that is holy. It's removeal from the curiculum could instantly provide a good two weeks of time for other things.

Why would new recruits expect less than a full octane basic training? Because that is what they are sold. And the US Army's intense branch system (infantry, artillery, quartermaster, etc...) both supports and propogates it.

Your comments on the need for seperate, non-combat basic training versus combat training are not quite correct. It is not a about a gender thing...it's about the US Army's branch system. In the US Army there are three levels of basic...well...there were. And I don't believe any ciriculum changes really have effected it. There are OSUT (One Station Unit Training), Combat Arms basic training, and non-combat arms. There is no difference in the first 9 weeks for all intense and purposes. The difference is that during OSUT the Basic and Advanced Individual Training is combined. In the US Army AIT is where recruits learn their jobs. US Army Infantry training is pretty much 13-14 weeks, combining basic and infantry training all in one. Same for most combat arms...or primary combat arms. Secondary combat arms such as Cannon Fire Direction Specialist, although a combat arms MOS is seperated.

The branch system and the US Army's concept of training is responsible for that..not gender. Because currenly none of the land component combat arms MOS's is open to women, so non-OSUT combat arms do the same thing in basic as non-combat MOS's do. Gender has nothing to do with it. The US Army branch culture is responsible for that.

Budget concerns would not change any thing. US Army soldiers in the late 30's trained with wooded replicas simply because the US Army culture has been one of conscription...and all training was geared towards that. It still is even though the conscription model has been replaced by a "volunteer" model. When you raise a 2 million man US Army over the course of a couple years your industrial complex has to catch up. That was the problem in the 30's. The problem now is a waste in funds and a historical inter-service budget battle that provides money based on politics and not on true need.

The US Marine Corps dealt with that for a while...having less than 2.5% of the Dept. of the Navy's budget. The US Army has spent it's money poorly, trying to keep up with the inter-service arms race with the Air Force and Navy...a race it has lost. And one that has left fewer funds than should be there...but even if a blank check was written things would not improve for the US Army because it's branch culture, and 2nd Generation Warfare model is out dated and wrong.

Your comment on soldiers desire to fight vs. the desire to enlist is on point...but as Col. Grossman points out in his book "On Killing", approximately 2% of a nations populace have a desire to shepherd the other 98%. And as such they tend to gravitate to the professions of the military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue. If one does a quick analysis one can clearly see that the smaller US Marine Corps has about the same percentage of those 2%'ers per capita in comparison to the US Army, Air Force, and Navy. But as with the US Army, those born "warriors" gravitate to not only combat arms roles, but even further to units on the edge the US Army spear...Airborne, Ranger, and Special Operations.

The US Marine Corps, being smaller in number enjoys a special role in that almost the entire Corps is made up of warriors from that 2% category. In comparison to the US Army where they are centered in the 82nd Airborne, the Rangers, and primarily those 2% with longevity and experience find themselves drawn to the Special Forces Groups.

It is not a stretch to see that the US Army being much larger in man power would have a much higher number of non-2%'ers. And as such a large number of enlisted personnel who have a desire to serve...but none to fight.

As I was not an officer, and do not keep up with issues concerning Basic Officer Course, etc...I can not comment on your final question. But I can hazzard a guess...No. I would imagine that the training has not change much for officers. NCO's are those truely responsible for life at the tactical level in the US Army. A system that once again takes us into long term issues plaquing the US Army.

Do I believe that US Army basic training should be more like US Marine Corps boot...yes and no. I, and others sharing my feelings believe that US Army basic should provide a 14 week course that gradually places recruits further and further into a basic infantry training mode. One that has them living in the field by the last half of the 14 weeks. Where they train exclusively for combat and learn all primary skills for combat, and begin an un-armed combat system very near the US Marine Corps system (I do not agree with the total curriculum...but applaud the Corps for it's ground breaking role in the area of training). The US Army must immediatly break the Branch culture, and must immediately provide a training curriculm that high lights all primary combat skills found in basic or provisional infantry functions. And once rigurous testing has been passed recruits can move onto their MOS specific traing. Which if that would be infantry...would provide the most advanced light and mechanized infantry training (combined of course) in the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read my responses.

C.Louviere
Sulphur, LA
tele_2319@yahoo.com

November 29, 2004 at 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a prior service member of the US Army, I would like to take this opportunity to answer some of the questions you raised during your opinions of the article "Every Enlistee First a Warrior".

First off the questions concerning how a "recruit" can start out the box at E-4. Simple. This is part of the US Army's continued sales pitch to get recruits in the first place. Between the rank for college plan and the "bring in a friend" it is possible to get a starting rank at E-4 before you've drawn your first A bag of equipment.

For the low low price of 120+ hours of college or a Bachelors degree any recruit can start as an E-4. For 30+ hours you can start as an E-2...so on and so on. This is all tied in to the attempts at meeting the recruiting goals.

I do have to agree with on the Drill and Ceremony bit...I thought it was a waste of time to. It just looses it's purpose when you don't need to train up with a 14 pound long rifle. But in the US Army it is a center piece to all that is holy. It's removeal from the curiculum could instantly provide a good two weeks of time for other things.

Why would new recruits expect less than a full octane basic training? Because that is what they are sold. And the US Army's intense branch system (infantry, artillery, quartermaster, etc...) both supports and propogates it.

Your comments on the need for seperate, non-combat basic training versus combat training are not quite correct. It is not a about a gender thing...it's about the US Army's branch system. In the US Army there are three levels of basic...well...there were. And I don't believe any ciriculum changes really have effected it. There are OSUT (One Station Unit Training), Combat Arms basic training, and non-combat arms. There is no difference in the first 9 weeks for all intense and purposes. The difference is that during OSUT the Basic and Advanced Individual Training is combined. In the US Army AIT is where recruits learn their jobs. US Army Infantry training is pretty much 13-14 weeks, combining basic and infantry training all in one. Same for most combat arms...or primary combat arms. Secondary combat arms such as Cannon Fire Direction Specialist, although a combat arms MOS is seperated.

The branch system and the US Army's concept of training is responsible for that..not gender. Because currenly none of the land component combat arms MOS's is open to women, so non-OSUT combat arms do the same thing in basic as non-combat MOS's do. Gender has nothing to do with it. The US Army branch culture is responsible for that.

Budget concerns would not change any thing. US Army soldiers in the late 30's trained with wooded replicas simply because the US Army culture has been one of conscription...and all training was geared towards that. It still is even though the conscription model has been replaced by a "volunteer" model. When you raise a 2 million man US Army over the course of a couple years your industrial complex has to catch up. That was the problem in the 30's. The problem now is a waste in funds and a historical inter-service budget battle that provides money based on politics and not on true need.

The US Marine Corps dealt with that for a while...having less than 2.5% of the Dept. of the Navy's budget. The US Army has spent it's money poorly, trying to keep up with the inter-service arms race with the Air Force and Navy...a race it has lost. And one that has left fewer funds than should be there...but even if a blank check was written things would not improve for the US Army because it's branch culture, and 2nd Generation Warfare model is out dated and wrong.

Your comment on soldiers desire to fight vs. the desire to enlist is on point...but as Col. Grossman points out in his book "On Killing", approximately 2% of a nations populace have a desire to shepherd the other 98%. And as such they tend to gravitate to the professions of the military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue. If one does a quick analysis one can clearly see that the smaller US Marine Corps has about the same percentage of those 2%'ers per capita in comparison to the US Army, Air Force, and Navy. But as with the US Army, those born "warriors" gravitate to not only combat arms roles, but even further to units on the edge the US Army spear...Airborne, Ranger, and Special Operations.

The US Marine Corps, being smaller in number enjoys a special role in that almost the entire Corps is made up of warriors from that 2% category. In comparison to the US Army where they are centered in the 82nd Airborne, the Rangers, and primarily those 2% with longevity and experience find themselves drawn to the Special Forces Groups.

It is not a stretch to see that the US Army being much larger in man power would have a much higher number of non-2%'ers. And as such a large number of enlisted personnel who have a desire to serve...but none to fight.

As I was not an officer, and do not keep up with issues concerning Basic Officer Course, etc...I can not comment on your final question. But I can hazzard a guess...No. I would imagine that the training has not change much for officers. NCO's are those truely responsible for life at the tactical level in the US Army. A system that once again takes us into long term issues plaquing the US Army.

Do I believe that US Army basic training should be more like US Marine Corps boot...yes and no. I, and others sharing my feelings believe that US Army basic should provide a 14 week course that gradually places recruits further and further into a basic infantry training mode. One that has them living in the field by the last half of the 14 weeks. Where they train exclusively for combat and learn all primary skills for combat, and begin an un-armed combat system very near the US Marine Corps system (I do not agree with the total curriculum...but applaud the Corps for it's ground breaking role in the area of training). The US Army must immediatly break the Branch culture, and must immediately provide a training curriculm that high lights all primary combat skills found in basic or provisional infantry functions. And once rigurous testing has been passed recruits can move onto their MOS specific traing. Which if that would be infantry...would provide the most advanced light and mechanized infantry training (combined of course) in the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read my responses.

C.Louviere
Sulphur, LA
tele_2319@yahoo.com

November 29, 2004 at 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a prior service member of the US Army, I would like to take this opportunity to answer some of the questions you raised during your opinions of the article "Every Enlistee First a Warrior".

First off the questions concerning how a "recruit" can start out the box at E-4. Simple. This is part of the US Army's continued sales pitch to get recruits in the first place. Between the rank for college plan and the "bring in a friend" it is possible to get a starting rank at E-4 before you've drawn your first A bag of equipment.

For the low low price of 120+ hours of college or a Bachelors degree any recruit can start as an E-4. For 30+ hours you can start as an E-2...so on and so on. This is all tied in to the attempts at meeting the recruiting goals.

I do have to agree with on the Drill and Ceremony bit...I thought it was a waste of time to. It just looses it's purpose when you don't need to train up with a 14 pound long rifle. But in the US Army it is a center piece to all that is holy. It's removeal from the curiculum could instantly provide a good two weeks of time for other things.

Why would new recruits expect less than a full octane basic training? Because that is what they are sold. And the US Army's intense branch system (infantry, artillery, quartermaster, etc...) both supports and propogates it.

Your comments on the need for seperate, non-combat basic training versus combat training are not quite correct. It is not a about a gender thing...it's about the US Army's branch system. In the US Army there are three levels of basic...well...there were. And I don't believe any ciriculum changes really have effected it. There are OSUT (One Station Unit Training), Combat Arms basic training, and non-combat arms. There is no difference in the first 9 weeks for all intense and purposes. The difference is that during OSUT the Basic and Advanced Individual Training is combined. In the US Army AIT is where recruits learn their jobs. US Army Infantry training is pretty much 13-14 weeks, combining basic and infantry training all in one. Same for most combat arms...or primary combat arms. Secondary combat arms such as Cannon Fire Direction Specialist, although a combat arms MOS is seperated.

The branch system and the US Army's concept of training is responsible for that..not gender. Because currenly none of the land component combat arms MOS's is open to women, so non-OSUT combat arms do the same thing in basic as non-combat MOS's do. Gender has nothing to do with it. The US Army branch culture is responsible for that.

Budget concerns would not change any thing. US Army soldiers in the late 30's trained with wooded replicas simply because the US Army culture has been one of conscription...and all training was geared towards that. It still is even though the conscription model has been replaced by a "volunteer" model. When you raise a 2 million man US Army over the course of a couple years your industrial complex has to catch up. That was the problem in the 30's. The problem now is a waste in funds and a historical inter-service budget battle that provides money based on politics and not on true need.

The US Marine Corps dealt with that for a while...having less than 2.5% of the Dept. of the Navy's budget. The US Army has spent it's money poorly, trying to keep up with the inter-service arms race with the Air Force and Navy...a race it has lost. And one that has left fewer funds than should be there...but even if a blank check was written things would not improve for the US Army because it's branch culture, and 2nd Generation Warfare model is out dated and wrong.

Your comment on soldiers desire to fight vs. the desire to enlist is on point...but as Col. Grossman points out in his book "On Killing", approximately 2% of a nations populace have a desire to shepherd the other 98%. And as such they tend to gravitate to the professions of the military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue. If one does a quick analysis one can clearly see that the smaller US Marine Corps has about the same percentage of those 2%'ers per capita in comparison to the US Army, Air Force, and Navy. But as with the US Army, those born "warriors" gravitate to not only combat arms roles, but even further to units on the edge the US Army spear...Airborne, Ranger, and Special Operations.

The US Marine Corps, being smaller in number enjoys a special role in that almost the entire Corps is made up of warriors from that 2% category. In comparison to the US Army where they are centered in the 82nd Airborne, the Rangers, and primarily those 2% with longevity and experience find themselves drawn to the Special Forces Groups.

It is not a stretch to see that the US Army being much larger in man power would have a much higher number of non-2%'ers. And as such a large number of enlisted personnel who have a desire to serve...but none to fight.

As I was not an officer, and do not keep up with issues concerning Basic Officer Course, etc...I can not comment on your final question. But I can hazzard a guess...No. I would imagine that the training has not change much for officers. NCO's are those truely responsible for life at the tactical level in the US Army. A system that once again takes us into long term issues plaquing the US Army.

Do I believe that US Army basic training should be more like US Marine Corps boot...yes and no. I, and others sharing my feelings believe that US Army basic should provide a 14 week course that gradually places recruits further and further into a basic infantry training mode. One that has them living in the field by the last half of the 14 weeks. Where they train exclusively for combat and learn all primary skills for combat, and begin an un-armed combat system very near the US Marine Corps system (I do not agree with the total curriculum...but applaud the Corps for it's ground breaking role in the area of training). The US Army must immediatly break the Branch culture, and must immediately provide a training curriculm that high lights all primary combat skills found in basic or provisional infantry functions. And once rigurous testing has been passed recruits can move onto their MOS specific traing. Which if that would be infantry...would provide the most advanced light and mechanized infantry training (combined of course) in the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read my responses.

C.Louviere
Sulphur, LA
tele_2319@yahoo.com

November 29, 2004 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger jbrookins said...

Basic training has been a complaint from many of us for a long time now. I watched the Army soften the course every year it seemed since I joined in the eighties. Finally after failed stress cards, combat casualties and a Chief of Staff that has a clue we hopefully are on the right track. Gender integration has only hampered efficient training with distracters. What so many people don’t understand is good training produces better soldiers no matter what their jobs are. It also give support troops a taste of what the line units go through daily.

It hurts me to say so (because. well I’m Army) but the Marine Corps has been right all along on this subject. Not perfect but certainly they held their ground while the other services succumbed to political correctness.

November 29, 2004 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The main problem with the 507th was the fact the officers and NCOs did not do their jobs. Every account I've read indicates weapons jammed. The OIC and NCOics did not check weapons. In VN my troopers cleaned their weapons 5-6 times a day. We received M-16s after using M-14s for three months. In the 507th, the PFC who won a Siver Star. stated he ejected each cartridge manually and still killed seven bad guys. Each soldier received additional training in combat operations prior to deployment.
Sgt. David

November 29, 2004 at 7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more things change, the more they stay the same... This reminds me of one night in Saigon in '68. I had CQ in our billet one night and was tagged for the 0200-0600 security watch. The watch's job was to back-up the MP posted in front of the entrance to our "hotel." About 0100, I woke to a single gunshot. Not hearing any further racket, I stood down and went back to sleep. Later on, when I went to assume the watch, I was met by the Army Warrent in charge that evening. He told me that the previous watch stander had been "playing" with his weapon and had almost shot the MP when it went off accidently. The WO then directed me to keep the weapon (a Remington 12 gauge shotgun) unloaded while on watch. I informed him, with all due respect, that just because someone in the Army didn't know how to handle a weapon, I, a mere swabbie, did. Furthermore I informed him that if he insisted on keeping the weapon unloaded, he could find another warm body to stand the watch. I prevailed and the Warrant went back to sleep. The next thing I did was douse the lobby lights that had been backlighting the poor MP, inform him of what I was up to, and then took a position with some cover where I could cover both the front and back entrances to the place. This occurred at a time when evening fire fights were commonplace in our area. The Army will not only have to provide the combat training, they will have to overcome the non-combattant attitudes.

November 29, 2004 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger 3rdShift said...

I enlisted in the Army in the early 80's, initially as a chemical operations specialist (smoke generator). Our basic training was segregated by sex at the time. We were qualified on the M16, M60, and had some training in the use of Claymore mines & the L.A.W. When assigned to a unit, we were responsible for our own perimeter security, convoy security, and trained that way. Later I was assigned to a supply battalion, and there again we were responsible for our perimeter, did some recon etc. True, we didn't know much about patrolling, handling prisoners etc., but were basically self-sufficient. My guess is that the 507th is not really typical of Army support units, and that their commanders had gotten lax and garrison-bound.

November 29, 2004 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger M said...

Every Marine is a Rifleman!. I have two word for the Army to follow when designing this :new way" of training: Semper Fidelis.

Instead of the periodic talk of the Army absorbing the Marine Corps. Maybe the Marine Corps ought to absorb the Army.

I don't mean to make this an Army vs Marine thing, but the reality is up until recently is there are Soldiers, of ALL ranks, who never pick up a rifle after boot camp. That is a disgrace, and will only harm that Solider if he or shee ever needs those skills.

November 30, 2004 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

I found this story very interesting although your injected comments more interesting. One point with the military which has bothered me is the lowering of standards for females (may be different for Marines). I sure would hate to be a guy injured who was 6'2" and I would be expected to carry him to a safe spot (I'm 5' 1" and 108lbs). I understand there are men who are short (duh) but women do not have the same upper body strength as men although there may be a few exceptions. But you don't set standards based on the exceptions. Seems to me the Israelis finally admitted that the mixed gender route really didn't work a few years back. When is 'PC' going to be removed from the military to save lives?

November 30, 2004 at 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The son of a co-worker just enlisted into the Army as a Specialist E-4. He WANTED to be a cook and be sent to advanced chef school or something like that. So, apparently based upon MOS, critical or otherwise, one can enlist at a rank that it took me 2 1/2 years to attain in the Vietnam era. It's all about the Army of One, I guess. Care to be a high school all American athlete and champion skeet shooter, graduate from basic training as a Pvt. E-1 and be "led" by this E-4 cook?

November 30, 2004 at 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Grinder! Not a good use of time.

November 30, 2004 at 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chester,
The quotation, "The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war" is by Vijaya L. Pandit (1900-1990), Indian diplomat. See Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines by Michael F. Sturkey, pg. 43.
Also, I loved your comments to the Army's new training plans. They should all know how to use, clean and care for their weapons.
Thanks for running this site. Semper Fi

November 30, 2004 at 7:52 PM  

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