Soldiers Concerned Over Army's Plan To Drastically Cut Combative Training Program

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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Proposed changes to the United States Army’s combatives training program are concerning many members of the Army.

Currently, the combatives training program consists of four skill-level courses: a weeklong basic course, a two-week tactical course, a four-week basic combatives instructor course and a four-week tactical combatives instructor course. The program lasts for a total of 11 weeks.

But as the Army Times reports, the proposed changes would cut the program down to two weeks.

The initiatives from the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) call for eliminating all four levels of the program and replacing them with a two-week master combatives training course. TRADOC officials are calling for “implementation of the program as soon as possible.”

Many in the Army say that the hand-to-hand combat skills taught in the program save lives, and that cutting the program will put soldiers at greater risk of injury or death in combat.

“I think it’s going to be detrimental to the force moving forward,” a senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) said. “We’re taking away so much training, and it’s not only soldiers’ ability to fight, but confidence, instilling the warrior ethos in the individual soldier, and some of those intangibles that can’t be measured.”

Sean Roberts, a lead combatives instructor for the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, Kansas, says the proposed changes will leaves soldiers unprepared for combat.

“Any significant changes to the training model could result in serious potential for increased injury rates and reduced operational preparedness for soldiers,” he said.

Roberts says the training program exists “so that, at each level, the soldier becomes proficient, and it requires hundreds of hours. You can’t have an individual who’s received a minimum amount of training have maximum responsibility and not expect catastrophic failure at some point.”

The proposed changes include the elimination of the Army’s annual all-Army combatives tournament. This year’s tournament has already been cancelled.

Currently, 700 soldiers complete the basic combatives instructor training and 120 soldiers complete the tactical combatives instructor training. The instructors went on to train 60,000 soldiers in the basic course and 18,000 soldiers in the tactical course. 

Source: Army Times