Killing From A Distance (wa"Can We Make Our Soldiers Tough Enough?" - Popular Science, February 1944

LukeV

Level 6 Valued Member
It has been a long time since a war was won by the fittest side with the biggest biceps and most six packs (a la 300). At least in the western world most militaries have reduced physical fitness standards in order to broaden the range of people eligible to be recruited. Chronic personnel shortages and social pressures are behind this. Hardly any soldiers ever see the enemy. Those few that do almost always kill them from a distance. Most militaries now seem content to recruit for that reality
 

vegpedlr

Level 6 Valued Member
WWII came right on the heels of the Great Depression. The pool to draw from was rough shape, but for different reasons than today. The US federal school lunch program came from that situation, i.e. fear that we would be unable field an army if needed.

And while there is a lot “fight from a distance” in modern warfare, the reports I’ve read, indicate there is still much close combat dragging around a ton of gear. That requires fitness, but not bodybuilder muscles, more of a compact, wiry physique with plenty of endurance. I kinda chuckle at the movies now.
 

Whiskey_Fox

Level 3 Valued Member
Hardly any soldiers ever see the enemy. Those few that do almost always kill them from a distancE
That's not accurate. There are still those who get close enough to reach out and touch them. Not every enemy gets killed from a distance, some need a more "personal" touch, while others need flex cuffs and a black hood.

But I will agree with your stance on the lowering of fitness standards to increase recruitment
 

LukeV

Level 6 Valued Member
That's not accurate. There are still those who get close enough to reach out and touch them. Not every enemy gets killed from a distance ...
It's not exactly a strength topic but interesting nonetheless. The phrase I used was "hardly any" and it's 100% accurate. Two relevant issues: the first is the tooth to tail ratio or how many soldiers actually fight; the second is how does the enemy actually get killed. In modern militaries few soldiers actually fight and of those fewer still ever see the enemy let alone get close enough to kill them, for example with personal weapons (which is not the way most enemies have been killed for over 100 years). What we both seem to agree on is that militaries have by and large ceased to recruit to the physical standard required to fight the enemy and kill them and instead recruit to a lesser physical standard, more realistic for the average soldier who neither fights nor kills. By the way I'm not trying to defend that - in my view acceptance of declining physical fitness standards for soldiers just reflect the normalisation of defeat as something that's okay, but that's probably an argument to be settled over a lot of beers!!!!!!
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
I don't know if the recruiting to a lesser standard is necessarily a response to the lack of CAR recipients. When was the last time a person had to skin the cat on a pull-up bar for combat. I think some of the reduced need for fitness arose from the specificity of needs of the soldier and some elements of fitness are simply unnecessary for any era.

The need to carry more and more technology is a driving force for improving strength in the modern warrior in my opinion. Wrestling a guy to the ground for flex cuffs is different when wearing 70lb of kit than it was 80 years ago carrying around a few Garand clips. Armor, a basic load, NVG, radio, blow-out kit, tools, etc. weighs a guy down. Knees and back are a vulnerable point for todays military.

The composition of the military has more desk jockeys as a percentage today than 80 years ago but we still have a lot of basic infantry across the services and a higher demand for SOF than ever before. I think it's for the better to focus on the two ends of the spectrum too because long range doesn't enable the same level of intelligence gathering, reduced collateral damage, cost-to-benefit, logistics support, etc.
 

Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
I think it's for the better to focus on the two ends of the spectrum too
I think we've discussed this in another thread, but this is why we are starting to see more PT tests that are specific to certain jobs or groups of jobs. Everyone in the military needs to be fit enough to function, but there's a pretty big gap between "fit enough to function" and "fit enough to fight." No reason to keep a potentially effective cyber warrior out of the game because they can't do enough push-ups. Similarly, no reason to let people into positions where they can endanger themselves or others with their lack of physical capability, just because they can pass the "standard" PT test.
 

Dasho

Level 6 Valued Member
No reason to keep a potentially effective cyber warrior out of the game because they can't do enough push-ups.
I'm not sure I agree with this. I'm a 1B4X1 with the Air National Guard, but it is wrong to assume that the only role I'll ever be given is tied to my "main" job. I have opportunities to work closely with units who do more "in-the-field" work, as well as the potential to be called up for state service in response to disaster response, humanitarian work, etc. GPP is key for me.
 

Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
but it is wrong to assume that the only role I'll ever be given is tied to my "main" job. I have opportunities to work closely with units who do more "in-the-field" work, as well as the potential to be called up for state service in response to disaster response, humanitarian work, etc. GPP is key for me.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there should be lax standards and the assumption that all you will ever do is your job (as you pointed out, the National Guard tends to be especially flexible in what they ask people to do). I'm just saying that, while there should be solid standards across the board, it's probably a good idea for infantry, artillery, cavalry, etc to have higher standards. At no point should the standards be low. And, while we can't assume someone will never be in situation where their lives depend on their physical capacity, we can make decisions based likelihoods, eg, a combat engineer will probably benefit more from higher physical standards than a human resources specialist. Still doesn't mean the HR person can be a weak body.
 
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