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ARMY NEWS FOR WEEK '01 MAR 2010'
Army May Slash 'Warrior Task' Training
February 25, 2010
Military.com|by Christian Lowe
The Army is set to cut down on the number of skills it teaches incoming Soldiers at boot camp and further constrain its "onerous" list of required training for all Joes across the force.
According to Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the Army's chief of initial military training with Training and Doctrine Command, the service has recommended that the list of so-called "Warrior Tasks" be cut from a whopping 32 to 12 and that it further slash the "Battle Drills" required of all Soldiers from 11 to four.
"They've steadily grown over the years and become too onerous and too [specific] to an infantry Soldier instead of a basic Soldier," Hertling told Military.com during a Feb. 24 roundtable interview with military bloggers. "They were something that were not very well known in the force … and they had become too lengthy."
The Warrior Tasks and Drills --- formalized in 2005 --- followed calls from then-Chief of Staff Gen. Pete Schoomaker in 2003 to make basic training more relevant to current combat operations.
The tasks include firing the Army's entire inventory of infantry weapons, including the Mk19 grenade launcher, .50cal machine gun, and M249; being able to call in a medical evacuation flight; knowing how to maneuver in an urban combat environment; react to an unexploded ordnance hazard; and fortify a temporary fighting position.
"If I asked any group of Soldiers to name one of the Warrior Tasks and Drills, they couldn't do it … even I didn't know them," Hertling added.
The tasks and drills were so specific and took so long to even introduce to Soldiers, much less teach to proficiency, that new Joes were suffering from "task overload" and trainers saw a lot of the effort as a waste of time.
So in October 2009, a group of 150 drill sergeants, trainers and other Army experts got together to cull the list and determine "what should be the defining tasks --- what should every Soldier be able to do," Hertling said.
The group cut both the drills and the tasks by more than half, including pulling the requirement to be able to shoot the .50cal machine gun and set up a Claymore mine --- skills Army experts deemed irrelevant to the job of many Soldiers in the force.
"The Claymore is sometimes used in Afghanistan, but you would never use it without some additional training," Hertling said. "Yet we were teaching every single Soldier how to use it."
With the .50 caliber machine gun training, Hertling said if you looked at the numbers, trainers were "spending an awful lot of time and consuming an awful lot of resources just to give an introduction to something that the great majority of Soldiers would never do again."
The slashed list of tasks and drills has been approved by all division commanders and is now sitting on Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey's desk for final approval, Hertling added. The revamped list was fed into changes in the basic training syllabus which TRADOC officials just completed updating this month.
Some of the basic training changes include the addition of cultural instruction where trainers put wannabe-Soldiers through a scenario in a fictional African country and force them to avoid cultural taboos that could scuttle their mission.
"That seems a little bit fluffy, but it's not," Hertling admitted. "The adaptation to [foreign] cultures will save lives and help them accomplish their mission."
The Army is also moving to scuttle the traditional bayonet training of stabbing dummies with rifle-fixed daggers and veer it more toward the knife fighting end of the spectrum. The courses now include trench fights with padded batons and martial arts-style techniques rather than war cries and flinging straw.
"The skills that Soldiers need in combat are more in tune with fighting with the rifle and fighting with bayonets --- it's just not going to be attached to the end of the rifle," Hertling said.
The revamped basic training regimen is expected to be fully implemented by July.