Leadership: April 24, 2004


The Army has recently revised its Basic Combat Training (BCT) course to better prepare its soldiers for war. The new training includes more emphasis on urban combat and dealing with unconventional conflicts as well as conventional warfare in general. More training with various US weapons other than the M-16 is being provided. 

However, one area of training that the new program has not improved is hand to hand combat. Hand to hand combat has been an important part of military training since at least the Second World War and most armies today continue to provide their troops with some form of martial arts training. However, the current Army doctrine (introduced in 2002 and viewable on the Armys Digital Library) does not adequately prepare soldiers for life and death combat. 

The current hand to hand combat program does not state its importance for actual combat. Instead, it refers to peacekeeping and situations where lethal force is not authorized. It is, as some politicians put it, a program designed to prepare soldiers for the types of conflicts that they will be increasingly involved in during the 21st century, meaning non-lethal confrontation. 

While it is true that OOTW (Operations Other Than War) are becoming more prevalent for todays fighting man, it is obvious that that is not his reason for existence. The soldier sees his purpose as fighting wars. 

The new program is a combination of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, and tae kwon do. Its incorporates almost no killing techniques (with the exception of knife and bayonet fighting) and is thus unsuitable for a true combat environment. 

Critics of brutal fighting programs argue that this type of fighting is likely to only occur during peacekeeping operations or noncombatant evacuation. However, current events show that this is not the case. Marines involved in the attack on Baghdad found themselves fighting hand to hand against Iraqi troops and soldiers taking part in Operation Anaconda reported the use of hand to hand combat, bare-handed in some cases, in the fight against Al-Qaeda guerrillas. 

A more realistic training program would incorporate a majority of killing techniques (70%), a significant amount of non-lethal moves, as well as bayonet and knife fighting, similar to the Marines Martial Arts Program.


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