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Warrior Training


the patriot

Hello All,

Is it me or have the Battle Fitness Standards slipped drastically within the last five years?!! It used to be that everyone would have to complete their 3.2 km run with full battle order and rifle under 20 minutes. Followed by the usual range firings. Now they won‘t even allow running in combat boots. What‘s going on here?! How are our infanteers supposed to do section attacks when they won‘t even allow them to run in the very boots they‘ll be wearing in combat?!!! So much for the old gold, silver, and bronze Warrior badges.

-the patriot-
Fitness still needs to be addressed.

I recall the upper time limit for the 3.2 km run was 24 min, not 20. A mess rumour of a contributing factor in its elimination follows. Even if untrue, it illustrates a general problem.

When that particular standard was introduced army-wide, it was to be met by everyone serving in army-controlled venues, including static establishments such as bases. Failure to pass had career implications. A few individuals may have attempted to outdo themselves after years of relative inactivity in order to keep their jobs, and medical emergencies resulted. Thus the activity was discontinued pending review. (So goes the tale.)

The general problem? Whenever some well-meaning person introduces an arbitrary physical standard, someone is probably going to injure themselves (or worse) trying to attain it without proper preparation. Sometimes this may simply be a failure to properly interpret instructions (eg. train up before testing). (How many people have, or purport to know someone who has, borne the brunt of PERI wrath for leading troops in improper exercise?) We (the army) are sensitive to the soldiers‘ health. Hence, whatever approach is taken now, it seems a sure bet that it will be more carefully thought out.

Someone commented in jest, but I agree, that it was ludicrous to be awarding badges (to be worn with pride?) for meeting the absolute rock-bottom minimum standards of the army. (MLOC is inestimably appropriately named). Let‘s stick to recognizing excellence, not sufficiency.
On the other hand, where would we be today if someone went to the Human Rights Commission and said:

"See this bronze badge, I‘m being forced to wear this symbol of mediocrity. It is meant to shame me into acheieving better physical fitness standards, when I have been capable of doing my job for the past 3?-5?-7?-15?-25? years. And here are the PERs to prove my profensional competence."

Lets face it, in terms of promoting our troops welfare, physical and emotional, getting rid of the warrior badge was a good leadership decision. The program itself had good intentions, it refreshed basic soldier skills for a lot of people who had successfully avoided them for years - but the gold/silver/bronze badge was a terrible component of well-intentioned system. Why didn‘t we just give everyone a badge with their PER score on it to wear?


The Human Rights Commission comment aside, it says alot about our army if we can‘t even comment on one‘s physical fitness. Isn‘t being fit for battle what our army is all about?! There are those that were for the badge system and those that were against. It makes me wonder if I should take my grade school phys ed. teachers to court for hurting my self-esteem for making my peers and I take part in Canada‘s Fitness Testing (by the way which had a bronze, silver, and gold ranking system as well). Common sense would dicatate that if you‘re in the military, you should be physically fit, regardless of one‘s pers qualifications. If you flunk it, out to civy street you go. That reminds me, the old chit system isn‘t being used either. Which brings me back to my original peeve. No wonder we‘re no longer an effective fighting force.

-the patriot-

Yeah, you make a good point, and in a war you would want your troops to be at a maximum fitness standard. But with the size of our forces what it is, can we afford to throw out all the cooks and clerks just because they can‘t run 3.2 in 24 minutes with full battle gear? All other things remaining the same (ie retention and recruiting) it would seem to me to be self defeating.

I presume you advocate standard fitness levels across the board for all trades - and the USMC system of "every man a rifleman first" may or may not have merit (probably why we all do Warrior training) - if not please correct me.

If, however, you are actually talking about raising the standard for infantrymen, engineers, recce, armoured and others "at the sharp end" then you are correct, and if you can‘t cut it, out you should go. Is this an issue in the regular force - combat arms soldiers not meeting the physical requirements? If so, then you are absolutely correct, and forgive me for misunderstanding.

If, however, we are discussing physical standards for rear area troops in peacetime, then the system of badges was probably a silly one. I do like Brad‘s idea of rewarding excellence - marksmen should wear the crossed rifles badge. So why not retain the Gold warrior badge to recognize those who really excelled. The mediocre soldiers would wear nothing. No one makes you wear a badge for failing to achieve a marksman‘s rating on the range, so why wear a badge advertising your mediocrity at soldier skills?

Perhaps even better would be a more tangible incentive; extra leave for gold-winning soldiers in the regular force, perhaps a small bonus pay for reservists.

Yes, physical fitness should be part of the job, and every soldier should be striving to be his best without resorting to bribery. But with morale, retention, recruiting all being so brittle, I personally think its only realistic to make allowances for the fickleness of today‘s troops.

The Old Army is dead, for good or for bad (I never really knew the Old Army, but I suspect I would have liked it a lot better - certainly I would have been worked harder, and had I been deemed suitable to remain, I would have been prouder of myself than I am now).
Your last paragraph said it all, if you are worked harder and have acheived something then you would be proud. I personally believe that this is something that we lack in today‘s Army. We have nothing to be proud of except our past. Give troops something to be proud of, a sense of acheivment and they will be loyal. I coun recount many, many cases where troops have lost heart because they realize that there is very little to have pride in today. Take the CFJLC for example, it is virtually impossible for someone to fail it. In any other school a 99% pass rate means it‘s a "bird" course, taken for credit only. In the CF is qualifies non-comabt trades to become leaders.
As a collector of quotes, anecdotes and trivia, I feel the following may be appropriate here:

"If a man who serves indolently and a man who serves well are treated in the same way, the man who serves well may begin to wonder why he does so. - Asakura Toshikage (1428-81)

Where ‘does‘ morale go when the bureaucracy fails to appreciate the value of performance?