My reply? “Duh, fucker.”
Check this news article out.
In addition to getting rid of bayonet training, the Army has decided to replace long distance formation runs in basic training with sprint training instead. In other words, train the soldiers for combat.
Well, far as this Army veteran is concerned, this change is about twenty-one years overdue. I remember asking, repeatedly, over my four years of active why we went on long distance runs. None of us were planning on reenacting the Battle of Marathon near as I could tell. The only instance I knew of from recent US History where running for distance was required pertained to Task Force Smith in the early dark days of the Korean War. In fact you could argue that US Forces Korea and the 2nd Infantry Division still have institutional PTSD as a result of Task Force Smith since running was the Big Thing when I was in Korea and probably still is.
To me, it just seemed fucking stupid. It seemed even more stupid once you consider how you are supposed to shoot, move and communicate on the battlefield. Worse, running, for some screwball institutional reason, seemed to be the primary measure of a decent soldier. A soldier could be a complete and total fuck up in every other regard and yet if he or she could run a ten minute two mile then they were golden. Conversely, you could be tactically and technically proficient, know your shit backwards and forwards but if you had trouble with running, then you were a dirt bag in the eyes of many.
On a personal level it was not only stupid but painful. I have chronic shin splints which seem to defy any remedy known to medical or sports science. Stretch ‘em, ice ‘em, heat ‘em, etc, etc, it didn’t seem to matter. After about a hundred yards of running, it always felt as if some asshole were driving an ice pick into my shins with each passing step.
The other aspect of this article is that the soldiers interviewed pointed out that the soldiers needed improved core body strength in order to carry the body armor and gear. Again, duh. I lost track of how many soldiers I heard whining and crying, the ones who could do that ten minute two mile run, bitching about how heavy all their gear was.
“My ruck is hurting my back,” they’d cry. “My body armor is too heavy. Oh, hold my hand, wipe my ass and help me breathe.”
Funny thing. I had no problem humping my load. Never had any back pain. Never had any problem shootin’ and scootin’ from one bit of cover to the next under a full load. In fact, here is a scary thought.
Though I may have been slower than my peers without a combat load, I was actually FASTER than many of them WITH a full combat load. When I went to Infantry School I heard it over and over again, “Wow, that Murphy guy is fast.”
Really grinds my gears that it took ten years of warfare for the United States Army to finally wake up to the clue bat which has been cracking them in the institutional melon for quite some time now.
On the other hand, I’m glad things are changing, in this case, for the better.
Hell, if they had made this change in 1993, I’d probably still be on active duty. Jesus, I hated this Jimmy Fixx running bullshit.
Steven Francis Murphy
Author of The Limb Knitter and Tearing Down Tuesday
North Kansas City, Missouri