I can attest that many who do serve aren’t much better. I don’t serve in an infantry unit, but the physical abilities of most of the people I serve with are astoundingly bad. Yesterday, the 66th Military Intelligence brigade commenced a brigade run, so there were a few hundred soldiers that took part in a 4 mile run–very slow–around the airbase. It was pretty cool outside and windy, so overheating was not a problem, and yet as we stood in formation after the run was over and were told by the brigade commander to remove our hats, I felt sweat splash on th back of my leg. I looked back to see who could possibly be sweating that much in cool weather after running for a moderate distance at a near walking pace. To my surprise, several soldiers–including officers–looked like they’d just finished the Battan Death March.
I wasn’t sweating at all. I considered not even taking a shower before changing into my combat uniform, but I went to the gym after the run and did pushups, pullups and one-legged squats. Then I showered and felt great.
According to the Danger Room report:
75% of people aged 17-23 are incabable of serving in the military due to physical weakness, obesity drug use or can’t pass the mental aptitude test.
Nearly one quarter of those people are classified as obese, compared to only 6% in 1987.
Though I have some significant problems and questions concerning the effectiveness of Basic Training, one thing I did not question was the need to get soldiers physically ready. It seemed many of them needed to be screamed at and humiliated into moving and trying. This astounded me at the time. I used to think most people “got it” when it came to team work and effort. Seeing what was going on around me actually made me depressed; I felt like I was weird in that I didn’t need anyone screaming at me to get me to run hard.
A lot of soldiers here try very hard to get out of morning PT. They go on “profile” (medical orders restricting them from certain physical activities) immediately upon reaching the unit. It’s disgraceful. They have no shame. I’d be embarassed to show up to a new unit and try to get out of PT. The same soldiers can be seen swigging away from cans of soda and always have snacks handy. Guess they just don’t care. It’s tough to make people care.