U.S. Army to Harden 'Softer Generation'

Why is there an article about the U.S. Army on the DualShockers site you might ask? The answer is simple: even though we can develop and play some of the most advanced video games in history, according to the Army our physical capabilities are not exactly what they were in the past. In order to keep soldiers ready for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is revamping their basic training program for new recruits whose fighting experience is limited to Modern Warfare 2 or Bad Company 2.

Claiming that America as a society is getting softer, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling in an interview with NPR, had this to say:

They (recruits) are more “advanced in terms of their use of technology, and maybe not as advanced in their physical capabilities or ability to go into a fight. So we’re taking that into consideration as well in doing this holistic review. We are seeing a decline across the board in America”, he says. “This isn’t a decline in our recruits; this is a decline in our American society in terms of their physical capacity. It’s just a softer generation. But we can’t afford to accept that. We’ve got to train soldiers to climb the peaks of Afghanistan.”

In a story on DualShockers earlier today, it was noted that gamers (and the younger generation in general) are on average larger than past generations. We play video games, keep the couch warm, and families have increasingly turned to a fast food society due to busy schedules and, let’s face it, sometimes it is easier to stop to pick up a meal instead of cooking. The trend is getting increasing and, as a result, children are facing more obesity problems every year. According to Hertling, “We certainly have a generation that is not as disciplined when they enter the military. Whereas they might have what they believe is a form of courage or discipline, it’s not what we expect of a soldier in very tense and difficult situations.”

The Army has an answer for their side of the problem. They are focusing more on hand to hand combat, basically teaching recruits how to not only defend themselves but to also get in shape to defend themselves from a life of the same medical problems that doom many. Heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure can be a direct result of poor diet and lack of exercise.

“It’s including things like the use of weapons, knives, bayonets, sticks — even the rifle can be used as a weapon without shooting it,” Hertling says. Hand-to-hand combat skills are key for recruits to learn which, he notes, are the kinds of situations the military is expecting to “be in for a very long time.”

One edge possessed by the new generation that the Army is seeing is their overall familiarity with technology, coupled with a pervasive desire to make the world a better place. “They are a smarter generation than has been seen in the past. “They’re different. They have a technology edge. I think they’re smarter than any generation we’ve ever had before,” he says. “They certainly ask a lot more difficult questions. They want to contribute to something that’s bigger than themselves.”

In a day and age where America leads the world in so may technological advances, the fact that we are letting ourselves go physically is simply unacceptable. We as a nation must come together and bring ourselves back to the forefront as leaders of this new century and beyond. There is nothing wrong with playing video games and enjoying a great movie on the couch. But we do need to take better care of ourselves and maybe substitute that energy drink for a water once in a while. Perhaps we should take the lead of the Army, and combine our great technological knowledge with a great physical presence as well.

interview originally conducted @ npr.org

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Josh Wright

Josh resides in VA and enjoys spending time with his wife Lena, two wonderful kids Peyton and Bailey, and their puppy Marley. He moonlights as an Xbox Ambassador and someday hopes to rule the galaxy. Favorite Games: Mega Man, Tecmo Bowl, Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare

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