JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Virginia -- Out of all the events of the recent five-day Expert Soldier Badge (ESB) testing here, navigating with a map and compass and the current Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) accounted for most ejections.
Of the 95 soldiers that began the first day of testing on Sunday, 26 failed the day land navigation test and seven no-goed on the night land nav course. On the same day, 26 soldiers failed to meet the ESB standard on the APFT -- for a total of 59 dropped from testing.
"I hate to say this, but we lost 64% ... for just [physical training] and land navigation alone -- 64%," said Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Mitchell, CSM for the Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT).
The U.S. Army says it will meet its readiness goals by 2022, but young sergeants in most infantry and close-combat units don't know how to maneuver their squads or do basic land navigation, Military.com has learned.
For example, sergeants in the majority of the Army's active brigade combat teams (BCTs) don't know the importance of gaining a foothold when leading squads on room-clearing operations, according to a series of report cards from the service's Asymmetric Warfare Group, known as the AWG.
The findings come at a time when the Army is racing to transition from the counter-insurgency mindset that existed in Iraq and Afghanistan to one focused on preparing combat units to fight in large-scale, conventional battles against a foe of equal strength.