Fat, dumb and unhappy.

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Wired’s Danger Room reports that most kids are too stupid or fat to serve in the military.

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.

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9 thoughts on “Fat, dumb and unhappy.

    Amos Volante` said:
    November 6, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    We used to call those troops “Duds”. We used to call the guys like you “Fireballs”.

    It seems like from a PT standpoint there are more Duds nowadays.

    I do think it’s a better Army than the one I was in, but the country boy toughness is fading. That’s not good when you consider anyplace you get deployed favors country boy skills.

    Time for your peers to put away Xbox arm wrestling and try REAL arm wrestling!

    Bill said:
    November 8, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Doug:

    I was reading Superfreakonomics and ther’es a whole section about childhood weakness and problems b/c of fasting. It’s in the context of Ramadan where you just fast all day. They discuss mothers fasting. I was just curious if you read it. Why? B/c this post got me thinking about the Warrior Diet which IMHO, is nothing short of miraculous – although if correct, teh numbers in SuperFreakonomics would indicate it’s probably not good for pregnant moms (although that’s no knock on the diet).

    Hope you enjoyed the books – if you want any more, just let me know and I”ll shoot you another coupon (You’d probably dig SuperFreakonimics)

    Bill said:
    November 8, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Doug – stupid question I’m sure, but if a guy like Pyle was in boot camp, what would they do? I mean, he’s holding everyone back and as bad shape as he’s in, he wouldn’t be able to get in decent shape for a few weeks – so would they boot him out or just keep riding him?

    Amos Volante said:
    November 8, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Bill,

    guys like Pyle are in boot camp right now. As long as they keep their noses clean and make some effort at results, they will pass. They just won’t be following an A team into the Afghan mountains on foot or horseback, because that’s not in their skillset. You can find Pyle everywhere on military installations visiting the PX, complaining always, and occaisionally shooting up the place due to depression.

    Doug, my son, let’s call him ‘Bob Jones’ since I cannot name him on the Internet, just showed off his biceps and six pack abs. He bragged that he can easily do 100 situps and 12 pullups, and some days he can do even more.

    He doesn’t understand how anyone could complain about PT.

    I don’t understand how anyone could raise their kid differently. Your own duaghter of the same age; let’s call her Petunia, for safety reasons, rides horses like a machine. I wonder how many 18 year old army troops have the physical stamina to follow her on a competition ride?

    If your answer is anything other than ‘all of them’ then I would have to ask;

    How sad is that?

    magus71 responded:
    November 9, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Bill,

    I’m pretty sure they’d just keep riding Pyle and push him through. It’s actually tough to fail out of Basic, which is really just 10 weeks of hazing. Repeatedly failing physical fitness tests would get you “held over”. That is, they send you through again until you pass a PT test. Eventually, though, they’d let you go.

    magus71 responded:
    November 9, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Bill,

    In regards to pregnant women fasting, I would not recommend it. A woman’s body during pregnancy will spare nothing to ensure the health of the baby, and the woman needs an exceptional amount of protein during that time. I should point put that there is probably a protein difficiancy in the diet of most Arabs, so fasting during pregnancy would only make it worse.

    I’ve read Freakonomics but not Superfreakonomics.

    I don’t expect everyone here to be fitness fanatics, but you ought to be able to pull yourself over a 7 foot wall without assistance and you out to be able to fireman’s carry a 170 lb man 50 meters without setting him down.

    Michael LaBossiere said:
    November 10, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Many people are lacking in will. Everyone knows that fitness is a good thing, yet most people spend far more energy coming up with excuses and doing things that are destructive of health. Or maybe many folks are irrational-they know what they should do, yet elect not to do it.

    On the plus side, since these people self-select for weakness, one should not feel bad about oppressing them.

    Amos Volante said:
    November 10, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    There is value to this opinion: one can amass wealth by oppressing the weak!

    Amos Volante said:
    November 11, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Rereading this post again I noticed something:

    according to the stats the unfit have multiplied over 400% since I went to basic. 400%!

    Amazing. No wonder troops look different.

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