Professional Notes

With the passing of time, Kriegsspiel became institutionalized at the Kriegsakademie (War College) as a two-sided, free-play war game designed to train officers to make decisions and take responsibility and initiative. This Krieigsspiel became one of the principal means of leadership and training for the German Army.

Ground forces are not alone in relying upon warfighting war games. The U.S. Navy pioneered war gaming in this country at the Naval War College in the late l9th century, and war gaming became one of the U.S. Navy's principal tools for educating its officers and for evaluating fleet combat capabilities. The Navy made extensive use of war games for developing its Pacific war plans before World War II. Between 1919 and 1941, the Naval War College played 136 war games, of which 127 involved Blue (American) forces against Orange (Japan).

After World War II, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz said that nothing the Japanese did during the war was a surprise except the kamikaze attacks. The Japanese picked up the art and practiced some form of war game for every major World War II operation; the attack on Pearl Harbor is but one example. War gaming was used for the Battle of Midway, but the Japanese chief umpire, Rear Admiral Ugaki, disallowed U.S. carrier-aircraft hits on the Japanese carriers. (After the Emperor of Japan's surrender in August 1945, Ugaki took off his rank, climbed into a torpedo bomber, and flew to Okinawa where he was shot down by American fighters before he could crash into an American ship and become the "Last kamikaze.")

Japan lost four of its carriers at Midway and with them the war in the Pacific. The lessons learned from warfighting exercises deserve careful evaluation.

Army-style warfighter training, as exemplified by the large-scale, multi-echelon REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) exercises traditionally held in Europe, change with the times. Instead of REFORGER exercises, European based Army forces have shifted south from NATO's central region to Italy, Hungary, and Bosnia. Most of the Army personnel involved remain in Germany, but exercise via computer simulations on terrain in southern Europe. This type of joint task force warfighting using forward-deployed forces is proving to be the most effective way to prepare for global contingencies.

Emerging geopolitical trends and economic austerity probably will limit the frequency of large-scale field training exercises in the future. Leaders and staff officers will have to rely more on computer assisted exercises to simulate the effects of realistic field training exercises and actual combat. The enemy threat has changed and is still changing. Flexibility in exercise design and reduction of training costs are imperatives for the military forces of the future.

Sun Tzu said there are three elements to war: people, weapons, and wisdom. Wisdom is no doubt the most important and so it is with war gaming. The U.S. Army's premier command-and-control training war games for higher-echelon commanders and staffs are computer-assisted WarFighter command post exercises run by the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They are best described as free-play, computer-driven simulation training exercises. The program includes an unusual element in the form of a permanently based, doctrinally sound world class opposing force (WCOpFor) located at Fort Leavenworth.

The program was established in 1987 to provide advanced, collective, cost-effective training for commanders and battle staffs at brigade, division, and corps levels. The exercise driver is the Corps Battle Simulation system originally developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratories to support Strike Command. U.S. Army corps and divisions undergo a WarFighter Exercise (WFX) each time the commander changes. U.S. Marine Corps units, as well as French, German, Korean, Japanese, Canadian, and British ones, also have participated.

The XVIII Airborne Corps, VII Corps, and many of their subordinate units benefited from their WarFighter training in the months and weeks before Operation Desert Storm. General Norman Schwarzkopf's famous "Hail Mary" maneuver, a sweeping envelopment of the Iraqi right flank, was wargamed in computer-assisted exercises before it was successfully executed for real in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula. The Coalition's success and the incredibly low friendly casualties owed much to realistic training-for relatively few mistakes and many lives saved, in a real war.

The WFX simulation lasts about 100 hours-the length of Desert Storm-and most of the major units that fought in Desert Storm received WFX training beforehand. VII Corps gave the program high marks for the training it and its subordinate units received. Did the 100-hour war game produce the 100-hour war? The jury probably is still out on that one, but history provides some insight into war gaming that mirrors reality.

A good example of a war game corresponding to reality occurred in November 1944. On 2 November 1944, German Army Group B was conducting a map exercise war game at a castle near Cologne. The subject of the game was a theoretical American attack along the boundary of the Fifth Panzer and Seventh Armies in the vicinity of the Huertgen Forest sector of the Western Front. At almost the same time, the U.S. Army's 28th Infantry Division attacked the village of Schmidt in the same sector. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Field Marshal Model, commanding Army Group B, directed the German corps commander concerned to return to his command post. Model then told the staff officers assembled to continue the map exercise war game with the actual tactical situation as the subject. The Germans reacted swiftly and effectively to the 28th Division's attack, and the ensuing Battle of Schmidt became legend. After ten days of bitter fighting, the 28th Division suffered more than 6,000 casualties, the highest of any U.S. division during a World War II battle. The division became ineffective. U.S. forces did not take Schmidt until the spring of 1945.

The 28th Division had been part of the U.S. First Army's attack to seize Cologne and the Rhine Plains-and the attack corresponded to the German assumptions for their map exercise war game. As it turned out, all planned operational exercises for the map exercise war game were ordered at once and the exercise turned into reality.

Regardless of whether war gaming mirrors reality or not, U.S. forces were confident of success as they entered combat during Desert Storm. After 20 years of painful and meticulous building a professional armed force demoralized after Vietnam, the United States undertook one of the most complex and carefully planned military operations in its history when it initiated direct combat action against Iraq for the liberation of Kuwait. Computer-assisted WarFighter war games made sure that U.S. forces were prepared to fight successful joint and combined air-sea-land operations against the first major power play in the post-Cold War era.

Everybody wins in computer-assisted war game simulations, because there is freedom to fail in a no-fault environment. War gaming played an important role in the evaluation of various courses of action for, turning the conceptual plans into reality. Desert Storm could have been a prolonged, high-casualty campaign, but the "Hail Mary" maneuver turned Saddam Hussein's "Mother of all Battles" into a 100-hour defeat with few Coalition losses.

The British historian Sir Michael Howard has said that armies need to get it "nearly right" before they go into battle. In 1940 and 1941, the U.S. Army and Army Air Forces did this in a series of GHQ (General Headquarters) Maneuvers executed by Generals George C. Marshall and Lesley J. McNair in Louisiana and the Carolinas. Our predecessors used these maneuvers to shake out the interwar Army and test new ideas in doctrine, equipment, and organizations. They made badly needed changes as they brought a stagnant, ill-equipped service to combat readiness. The ground-air exercises provided insights on the materiel, tactics, techniques, and procedures needed to employ large mechanized formations, develop aviation support of ground forces, and employ antitank and antiaircraft assets. These large-scale maneuvers that roamed over large chunks of rural Louisiana and the Carolinas could not be duplicated today because of cost, urban sprawl, and the related political implications of turning hundreds of thousands of soldiers loose upon civilian environments but they helped the United States get it "nearly right" in time for those units that went into North Africa in their first real battles with the Axis enemy in 1942.

Just because we also got it "nearly right" in Desert Storm does not mean that the threat will go away. As General Frederick Franks, who commanded VII Corps in the desert, told Command and General Staff College students at Fort Leavenworth, the Cold War ended on 9 November 1990 and on that day his VII Corps was alerted to get ready for a "hot war" mission in Saudi Arabia. U.S. forces must be ready for combat in which the mission will be to shift from forward-deployed defense of traditional overseas areas to contingency operations in any part of the world.

The U.S. Army's warfighting doctrine is contained in Field Manual 100-5, Operations. The 1982 version emphasized the human dimension of war over technology, stressed the role of maneuver and the importance of the offensive, defined the nonlinear nature of the battlefield and called for speed, surprise, and audacity as key fundamentals to warfighting. The 1986 version was more restrained in its advocacy of maneuver over fires, but restated the essential thrust of the revolutionary 1982 document.

AirLand Battle doctrine worked in such diverse combat operations as Urgent Fury (Grenada, 1983), Just Cause (Panama, 1989), and Desert Storm/Provide Comfort (Iraq, 1991). Doctrine must absorb combat lessons and change, if it is to provide a framework for the future. Today's FM 100-5 reaffirms the old principles and emphasizes seizing the initiative, employing mission-type orders as a technique of command. It focuses the effort to define responsibility and the commander's intent as the bases of command and control. It incorporates such key concepts as force projection, joint and combined operations, plus new terms such as "versatility" and "battle command" into combat decision-making. Battle command is the art of battle decision making. Versatility, situational awareness, and a commander's ability to control the tempo of operations using new digital command-and-control systems are key to this doctrinal leap forward.

As the new doctrine puts it: "Successful commanders do not run out of options"-and war gaming gives the commander many options that have been war gamed to eliminate those that did not work well and reinforce those that worked. Computer war gaming, in itself a relatively new technology, also can aid the doctrinal integration of new technologies into emerging warfighting doctrine.

The principles of war are timeless, but the tenets of Army operations doctrine provide the basis for the development of current tactics, techniques, and procedures. Agility, initiative, depth, and synchronization still apply, but a new one, versatility-the ability of units to meet diverse mission requirements-has been added. It applies both to war and to operations other than war. Cooperation and support to governmental and international agencies characterize Army operations short of war.

Good commanders anticipate the unexpected. If war gaming is done correctly, the results will reflect the fog and friction of real war. Helmuth von Moltke the Elder is reported to have said that no plan survives contact with the enemy. War gaming is no different. Commanders can gain confidence if they have had their battlefield experience and rehearsal on the warfighting game boards.

The U.S. Army does not intend to fight alone. Therefore; it will not train alone. Warfighting training will be joint and combined. Airlift and sealift missions are methods of power projection and to support intra-theater operations. Special Operations also have a place in the Army's new warfighting doctrine. Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Forces as well as Air Force Special Operations Forces (AFSOF) combine with Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) to make an effective joint team. Computer war-gaming facilitates this type of warfighting training in a non-threatening manner. The other military services of this country and those of our allies can come together for simulated war games without the cost or political risk of elaborate field training exercises or real war.

Programs have been developed to control the pace, depth, and scope of change just as the GHQ Maneuvers did in 194041. It is not surprising that General Gordon Sullivan, the Army's Chief of Staff at the time, called this program Louisiana Maneuvers 1994 (LAM-94). Current initiatives are being carried out at the National Training Center in California and at Fort Hood, Texas, under the aegis of Force XXI as the Army prepares to enter the 21st century.

Although today's forces are vibrant, they face severe resource constraints. The present concept is to link stand-alone exercises with simulators and simulations, and to address new ideas and concepts using the power of the computer chip to gain insight and evaluation at reduced cost. Warfighting doctrine will be revised in light of these landmark exercises, called Advanced Warfighting Experiments (AWEs).

One benefit that a unit gets from WarFighter training is what it learns about itself as it goes through the orders preparation, pre-exercise training, and the stress and strain of the actual exercise. Napoleon would have benefited from a WarFighter war game before Waterloo. If he had received and heeded a WarFighter After Action Review (AAR) of his battle plans even as late as 17 June 1815-the night before the battle-18 June might have been a different day for France.

We must be skilled in the use of "bytes and bayonets." In an era of dwindling defense resources, computer-assisted exercises allow units to focus training efforts on commanders and their staffs, taking the place of large troop maneuvers in the field. Computer-assisted exercises represent the wave of the future for training commanders and battle staffs in mobile warfare. These exercises are flexible and can be done almost anywhere using a variety of scenarios to train leaders for all types of contingencies. Responding to world-wide threats is the hallmark of a trained and ready professional military. The warfighting training payoff is a commander and staff who fight as a team; subordinate commanders and staffs who understand the commander's intent; and a team who can seize and retain the battlefield initiative.

After the Battle of the Marne in 1914 Marshal Joffre is reported to have said that he did not know who won the battle, but that ". . . if it had been lost, I know who would have lost it." None of the warfighting issues discussed in this essay will guarantee success, but failure to use it may be blamed for defeat.

Update the Harpoon

By Lieutenant Commander Theodore Serbinski, U.S. Navy

With the Navy rightsizing the number of operational combatants, fewer resources will be available to support increasing worldwide mission obligations. The fleet must be able to conduct medium-range surface warfare in the littorals, answer calls for fire from ground units ashore, and participate in theater missile defense. The Navy has established new initiatives for naval surface fire support and theater missile defense in the littorals, but it has yet to address the problems of surface warfare.

Surface warfare means Harpoons; since 1976, U.S. combatants ranging from submarines to hydrofoils to battleships have had the Harpoon missile system installed as a surface warfare system. It was the first sea-launched, radar-homing missile with an autonomous target-discrimination capability. Given the missile's 67 nautical-mile range, a single Harpoon-equipped platform can defend more than 14,000 square miles of ocean. Over the years, the U. S. Navy has put more than 3,200 Harpoon missiles in its inventory. The U.S. Air Force has 90 for its B-52Hs, and our allies have ordered an additional 3,100. The U.S. Navy used Harpoon for the first time in combat on 24 March 1986 in the Gulf of Sidra, when a Block IB fired from a VA-34 A-6E sank a Libyan ship-a capability demonstrated again in 1991 when a Saudi Arabian combatant sank an Iraqi mine-laying vessel with a single Harpoon. In other actions, Harpoon has demonstrated 100% reliability-with five successful launches in the Gulf of Sidra in 1986 and four more in the Persian Gulf in 1988.

Harpoon remains the dominant cruise missile in U.S. and allied navy inventories, and is the almost-exclusive surface warfare weapon carried on board every U.S. combatant. Navy plans keep the missile in the forefront of surface warfare through 2015.

To support Joint Vision 2010's concept of precision engagement, the Harpoon weapon system should be updated to a dual-mode missile. Transformation will require a guidance system upgrade to meet the current and projected littoral threat and operational environment. The proposed Harpoon Block II guidance upgrade incorporates Global Positioning System (GPS) as a non-developmental item from the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) to provide precise guidance and target acquisition. The JDAM guidance unit has room for Harpoon's antiship and land-strike software and can accommodate future modifications for improved capabilities. New antiship software will give Block II Harpoons an order-of-magnitude improvement in performance for littoral engagements. Maximum use of off-the-shelf equipment and software from Harpoon and the Standoff Land Attack Missile-Enhanced Response (SLAM-ER), along with hardware from Harpoon and JDAM, ensure a low-cost and low-risk development and integration option.

With this upgrade, the Harpoon system could provide precision strikes against crucial fixed land targets and discriminatory attacks on ships in littoral or obstructed environments. The missile also would enhance naval surface fire support capabilities against deep targets. This versatility will be vital, because there will be fewer vessels to execute these missions.

In a majority of situations, Harpoons are much more responsive than longer range Tomahawks-an advantage that translates into a big plus in littoral warfare and fire support. Tomahawks, which routinely require authorization beyond ship or battle group commanders to fire, are dedicated to long-range strike missions and require more time for setup prior to launch. The availability of a more flexible, responsive and reliable assault weapon to complement Tomahawk is essential to ensure full fleet tactical readiness.

The Block II missile could be modified further to include smart submunitions, an airburst capability, and a hard-target penetrator to give amphibious commanders more flexibility during an assault; longer range also is an attractive option using a new seeker, specifically tailored for dual-mode operation, would add terminal guidance for land-strike missions. Missile software upgrades can enable new terminal maneuvers, while command launch system software upgrades can improve targeting using land-mass mapping-and even be integrated into the Advanced Tomahawk weapons control systems.

NATO is changing to embrace crisis response authority and is advancing combined joint task forces to foster a versatile command-and-control structure for contingency operations using amphibious forces. The United States' new Joint Rapid Deployment Force-alone or in partnership with other nations-can take advantage of an escort submarine or surface combatant carrying the next generation of Harpoon.

Arms proliferation, decentralization of military power, political instability, and reduced forward presence dramatically increase the need for around-the-clock information on the location and movement of potentially hostile surface targets. Sustaining the momentum of battle often can spell the difference between victory and defeat. Assault craft, gun emplacements, and the like literally can halt an advancing force in its tracks. Our military must be capable of controlling the littoral.

We have not met the challenges of littoral warfare or over-the-horizon targets, and a new generation of seamen may find itself without the tactics or weapons to prevail. Harpoon, which enhances the multimission capability of any vessel, will help. A submarine or surface ship armed with Harpoon Block II operating can provide a battle group commander an alternate shooter while increasing the battle group's tactical missile reserve.

Harpoon complements Tomahawk in the areas of strike tasking and control. Once engaged, Tomahawk tasking usually comes from the National Command Authorities. Harpoon tasking, on the other hand, normally comes from the battle group or Navy component commander or, for joint operations, from the Joint Forces Air Component Commander. This makes Harpoon a much more responsive weapon vital for the littoral environment, where our weapon systems must be able to acquire and defeat small to moderate-size targets while remaining beyond the range of enemy weapons. Since the complex littoral environment is not conducive to pre-planned missions, rapid tactical response will be a fundamental requirement.

Enhancing Harpoon makes more sense than incurring the cost and time to develop a new system. For more than 20 years, Harpoon has proved to be the world's most effective antiship missile system-with unparalleled reliability and responsiveness. We should think a long time before we remove this effective missile from any of our ships.

Are Marines Fit - But Weak?

By Captain T. M. Parker, U.S. Marine Corps

"More emphasis will be placed on the hardening of men and officers. All soldiers and officers should be able to run a mile with a combat pack in ten minutes and march eight miles in two hours. When soldiers are in actual contact with the enemy, it is almost impossible to maintain physical condition, but if the physical condition is high before they gain contact, it will not fall off sufficiently during contact to be detrimental.

General George S. Patton, Jr. U.S. Army, 1945

"When was the last time you ever saw anyone go into combat with a pair of Nikes and nylon shorts?"

General Alfred Gray, U.S. Marine Corps, 1989

Physical fitness is synonymous with military service; the correlation between physical conditioning and physical performance in combat has become the cornerstone of virtually every military physical training program.

Today's Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (PFT) determines whether Marines meet the required fitness standards. The test has been revised recently. Male Marines must do pull-ups from a dead hang (no kipping), and female Marines must run three miles. The inference, at least in the case of the pull-ups, is that kipping detracted from an evaluation of a male Marine's true upper-body strength. If this is the case, then the Marine Corps should continue to overhaul the fitness standards by revamping the present height-and-weight standards, which, based as they are on outdated physiology, discourage Marines from building strength.

Ideal weight is determined by the size of a person's frame or lean body-mass. A person with large bones or muscles would project a greater weight than someone of the same height with small bones and muscles. An over-dependence upon an ideal weight standard for a specific height can be a problem. Body fat plays a role, and many fitness experts contend that the ideal body fat content is 15% for a man and 24% for a woman.

With regard to over-reliance on specified height-and-weight tables, consider the case of a woman with 26% body fat who began a fitness program weighing 127 pounds. After a six-month program, she had dropped to 23% body fat, lost two inches off her waist, two and one-half inches off her hips, one inch off each thigh, and gone from a size 12 to a size 10. She looked and felt better, but she had gained six pounds; the muscle she had gained weighed more than the fat it replaced, but took up less space. The woman immediately quit the fitness program because she had not lost any weight, even though her physical performance had improved noticeably.

The Marine Corps should not continue to buy into such thinking.

Our current height-and-weight system is governed by Marine Corps Order (MCO) 6100.10B, Weight Control and Military Appearance; a Marine who weighs more than the maximum specified is considered overweight. The order recognizes that some Marines, although physically fit, will exceed these standards because of a high volume of lean body-mass (LBM), which, although more compact, weighs more than fat. To meet the criteria for the alternate weight standard program, a Marine must be in good physical condition (scoring at least 2nd class on the PFT), possess a good military appearance, and not exceed 18% body fat (male) or 26% body fat (female).

The problem with this system is the stigma attached to the alternate weight standard. Many commands discourage or fail to provide alternate weight standards. Many more elevate the criteria for qualifying for an alternate weight, i.e., requiring a high 1st class PFT, being below 13% body fat, etc. It has even been suggested that the height-and-weight standards have become a performance standard, with unfavorable evaluations for those who fail to meet them.

Unfortunately, we have put our Corps in a position where PFT performance and weight standards have little correlation. It is possible, or even probable, that encouraging Marines to lower their natural weight to the set standard will decrease their physical performance. This is especially true in the category of upper body strength.

In 1990, the Department of Defense asked the National Academy of Science's Committee on Military Nutrition Research (CMNR) to review the physical criteria for recruitment and retention of armed forces personnel. The Committee's report, published in 1992, contained several telling revelations on the correlation between physical performance and weight. Among them:

The military's current body-fat tables specify precise height-and-weight standards-but the standards do not take into account "the strength of the association between body fat and military performance nor the reliability of the method of estimation," which the Committee states can be highly inaccurate. Its report recommends that "A body composition standard in the military should be based primarily on ability to perform required physical tasks and secondarily on long-term health implications. A stronger rationale needs to be developed for basing this standard. [The CMNR] conclusion relates only to service-wide standards, not the more stringent standards required for particular military occupation specialties."

In addition, "an inequity exists in body composition standards for men and women. Accession and retention standards for body weight and body fatness in men and women should be reevaluated in light of [the CMNR] report."

In his book, The New Fit or Fat, author Covert Bailey debunks the entire notion of height-and-weight standards. He warns against making the mistake of confusing fat with weight, saying that "No realistic determination of how fat you are [can be made] by your weight." An example cited concerning a professional football player is most applicable to the Marine Corps: ". . . the true story [of] a 285-pound football player. He was a valuable man on one of the big West Coast pro football teams, but each month his coach fined him for being overweight. He was only five feet eight inches tall, so his coach reasoned that he must be fat to weigh so much for that height. For a year or more, the big man dieted [unsuccessfully]. Finally, a university that was engaged in research on fat and physical performance agreed to determine the percentage of body fat of each player on the football team. To the amazement of all, our 285-pound man came out 2% fat, an astonishingly low number, considering that 15% fat for men is considered normal. Needless to say, his coach stopped fining him, and he stopped his starvation dieting. He gained weight to 325 pounds, which was a more normal fat content for him; he then felt much stronger and performed much better on the football field."

Bailey further states that weight tables presently used by physicians (and apparently Marines) can be off by 20-30 pounds. He believes that it is possible to be overweight and yet be under fat. Are we condemning our Marines to perform at lower standards to meet what might very well be an unnatural weight? We must consider the relation between weight and physical performance.

The general understanding within the Marine Corps regarding the MCO 6100.IOB weight standards is that conformance means that Marines will reflect "a military image that is neat and trim in appearance." Other than producing outstanding poster candidates, this policy is based on more than just good public relations. It exists because it also is understood that a "neat and trim" Marine is also a fit one. If this is the case, it begs the question: fit for what? For combat, of course! If this is truly the case and we require Marines to be fit for combat, then the height-and-weight standards should correlate closely with the ability to perform in combat. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The Committee could not identify any relationship ". . . between trim military appearance and military performance." Further, "within the range of body composition exhibited by current military personnel, there is no consistent relationship between body fat content and physical performance. There is, however, a direct relationship between physical performance as measured by tests of load-carrying ability and lifting ability and the amount of lean body-mass . . . . A stronger rationale for an appearance criterion and standards that define acceptable and unacceptable appearance needs to be developed."

It should come as no surprise that a larger amount of lean body-mass (muscle) correlates directly with the ability to lift and carry more. This larger amount of lean body-mass, however, also weighs more, and often exceeds present weight standards.

A more important finding regarding the correlation of weight to fitness was that "Aerobic fitness, as assessed by the current physical training tests, is an appropriate indicator of physical fitness. However, serious consideration should be given to developing job-related performance tests, such as lifting and carrying tasks, that are more closely related to actual military activities. These tests should be used to develop composition standards that are more closely related to physical performance of military tasks. "(Emphasis added.)

Clearly, these physicians recognized the correlation of upper body strength with military duties. Those military personnel tested who had more muscle clearly out-performed those with less muscle. This is not rocket science.

Obviously, we must begin moving our Marines toward a more lean body-mass approach to fitness. The new Sea Dragon tactics place increased reliance on Marines to carry more gear over longer distances. Marines not only must be able to run; they must bring things to the fight.

There are several possible solutions. The first of these is not to lower our physical fitness standards. One of the first units to undergo the revised PFT was the Staff Non-Commissioned Officers Advanced Course at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia. Of the 41 participants, only one completed all 20 dead-hang pull-ups and achieved a maximum score. Now, some are calling for a reduction in the maximum number of pull-ups to 15 instead of 20. Does that mean we are going to lower the standard for a maximum score on the run from 18 minutes to 20 minutes because the majority of Marines cannot max the test? Since when do we lower our standards instead of challenging our Marines to achieve them? It is time the PFT became a test of the whole Marine, rather than a try-out for the track team.

A simple solution would eliminate the current standards and adopt the body-fat standards used by most of the fitness experts. Marines' body fat could be checked biannually through using our current anthropometric measuring process or hydrostatic weighing if nearby medical facilities have the necessary equipment. This measurement, however, must be tied to physical performance if we are to close the gap between personal appearance and physical performance.

The Marine Corps used to be much like a football team-a diverse group focused on a common goal, each using individual physical talents in different ways toward the common goal, much like our combined arms concept. We have, unfortunately, degenerated into a group of individuals-all molded to be the same, all in competition with each other, all striving for personal instead of unit achievement. We must be more concerned with our Marines' physical abilities to accomplish their missions in combat, rather than in conforming to an outdated physiology chart. Who knows how many Pullers, Lejeunes, and John Basilones we are forcing out because they are just not the "right" body type?

 

 
 

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