The Army Is Pushing To Make Basic Training And PT Longer And Harder

Health & Fitness

Editor’s Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.


Senior U.S. Army leaders are pushing a campaign to enhance recruiting, toughen physical fitness training and extend Basic Combat Training to prepare soldiers for a major future conflict.

Secretary of the Army Mark Esper spoke Monday at the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium about his vision for the Army of 2028 that calls for a larger, more physically fit force.

"To meet the challenges of 2028 and beyond, the total Army must grow," Esper said. "A decade from now, we need an active component above 500,000 soldiers with associated growth in the Guard and Reserve."

The Army requested 4,000 soldiers be added to the active force as part of the proposed fiscal 2019 budget. The increase would boost the active-duty ranks from 483,500 to 487,500.

The Army must focus on "recruiting and retaining high-quality, physically fit, mentally tough soldiers who will deploy and fight and win decisively on any future battlefield," he said.

Related: Army Officials Worry Americans Aren’t Fit Enough To Fight »

"A decade from now, the soldiers we recruit today will be our company commanders and platoon sergeants. That's why we are considering several initiatives, to a new physical fitness regime to reforming and extending basic training in order to ensure our young men and women are prepared for the rigors of high-intensity combat," he added.

Esper did not give details about extending Basic Combat Training, which currently lasts 10 weeks. But the Army has already begun reforming BCT.

By early summer, recruits will go through a new Army BCT, redesigned to instill strict discipline and esprit de corps by placing enhanced emphasis on drill and ceremony, inspections and pride in military history while increasing the focus on critical training such as physical fitness, marksmanship, communications, and battlefield first aid skills.

The new program of instruction is the result of surveys taken from thousands of leaders who have observed a trend of new soldiers fresh out of training displaying a lack of obedience and poor work ethic, as well as being careless with equipment, uniforms, and appearance, according to Army Training and Doctrine Command officials.

The Army has also been considering adopting the proposed Army Combat Readiness Test: A six-event fitness test designed to better prepare troops for the rigors of combat than the current three-event Army Physical Fitness Test, or APFT.

Related: The Army Plans On Overhauling Basic Training To Focus On More ‘Disciplined, Physically Fit’ Soldiers »

The ACRT was developed, at the request of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, to better prepare soldiers for the physical challenges of the service's Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills — the list of key skills all soldiers are taught to help them survive in combat.

Gen. James McConville, the Army's vice chief of staff, said that the service is also considering improving the screening processes it uses to better prepare recruits coming into the Army.

"We are going to put more screening systems in place to make sure that when young men and women enter the Army, they are ready to meet the standards," McConville said.

Training and Doctrine Command has done a "great job of implementing the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, which is a four-event physical-fitness test to make sure that young men and women get in shape before they go to initial military training," he said.

"Then once they get into initial military training, we are screening them again to meet the physical demands of being in the Army," McConville said.

Related: Army’s New Physical Fitness Test Will Be Gender-Neutral, Secretary Says »

The Army is also testing a concept that involves assigning fitness experts to two Army divisions, he said.

"We are putting physical therapists, we are putting strength coaches, we are putting dieticians into each of the units so when the [new] soldiers get there, we continue to keep them in shape as they go forward," McConville said.

"We are going to have to take what we have, we are going to have to develop that talent and we are going to bring them in and make them better," he added.

Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said the service is also going to have to get better at how it approaches recruiting.

"When 87 percent of the people we recruit have someone in their family that has been in the military, it starts to beg the question, 'Are we expansive enough in our recruiting efforts?' " McCarthy said.

"Are we sophisticated enough in the way we communicate to the entire country and recruit the best quality individuals?," he said. "So our sophistication has got to get better, from the tools that we have to find the people to the manner in which we communicate."

This story originally appeared on Military.com

Read more from Military.com

WATCH NEXT:

An undated image of Hoda Muthana provided by her attorney, Hassan Shibly. (Associated Press)

Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.

Read More Show Less
U.S. soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. (U.S. Army/Zoe Garbarino/Handout via Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.

Read More Show Less
Construction crews staged material needed for the Santa Teresa Border Wall Replacement project near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Mani Albrecht)

With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"

But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.

Read More Show Less
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton

A group comprised of former U.S. military veterans and security contractors who were detained in Haiti on weapons charges has been brought back to the United States and arrested upon landing, The Miami-Herald reported.

The men — five Americans, two Serbs, and one Haitian — were stopped at a Port-au-Prince police checkpoint on Sunday while riding in two vehicles without license plates, according to police. When questioned, the heavily-armed men allegedly told police they were on a "government mission" before being taken into custody.

Read More Show Less
Army Sgt. Jeremy Seals died on Oct. 31, 2018, following a protracted battle with stomach cancer. His widow, Cheryl Seals is mounting a lawsuit alleging that military care providers missed her husband's cancer. Task & Purpose photo illustration by Aaron Provost

The widow of a soldier whose stomach cancer was allegedly overlooked by Army doctors for four years is mounting a medical malpractice lawsuit against the military, but due to a decades-old legal rule known as the Feres Doctrine, her case will likely be dismissed before it ever goes to trial.

Read More Show Less