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U.S. Army Overhauls Training, Toughens Up Geeks

While hundreds of thousands of today's youth are well trained in the tactics of modern warfare thanks things like, well, Modern Warfare 2, the U.S. Army doesn't see such modern technologies as a complete simulations package. In fact, the U.S. Army argues that video games and other modern tech could be making today's potential soldiers "soft."

In response to this, the U.S. Army is overhauling its basic training program for the first time in 30 years, according to NPR.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says that today's generation is "advanced in terms of their use of technology, and maybe not as advanced in their physical capabilities or ability to go into a fight."

In other words, today's youth are spending more time inside fighting in the virtual world rather than scrapping it out on the playground.

"We are seeing a decline across the board in America. This isn't a decline in our recruits; this is a decline in our American society in terms of their physical capacity. It's just a softer generation," Hertling said. "But we can't afford to accept that. We've got to train soldiers to climb the peaks of Afghanistan."

While physical fitness is just one facet to a soldier, Hertling believes that there's more to it than just that.

"We certainly have a generation that is not as disciplined when they enter the military," he added. "Whereas they might have what they believe is a form of courage or discipline, it's not what we expect of a soldier in very tense and difficult situations."

The new basic training program will place a new emphasis on how to fight, Hertling said: "It's including things like the use of weapons, knives, bayonets, sticks — even the rifle can be used as a weapon without shooting it."

That's not to say that today's generation is in any way a less effective soldier. "They're different. They have a technology edge. I think they're smarter than any generation we've ever had before," Hertling said. "They certainly ask a lot more difficult questions."

In related news, a UK TV program pitted a gamer head to head against an SAS sniper in a Modern Warfare 2 test.

Marcus Yam is a technology evangelist for Intel Corporation, having previously been an executive editor for Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware.

  • RooD
    If i got into a fight i got expelled, even when i didnt start it i got a week vacation and that was 3 years ago i here it has gotten worse so they are mad now people cant fight, but if they do fight ruin their lives
  • killerclick
    U.S. Army doesn't see Modern Warfare 2 as a complete simulations package? First of all, it's not even realistic by game standards. Second, duh! They'd do better to train the troops for law enforcement duties since that's what they'll be doing for the foreseeable future thanks to the previous moron-in-chief.
  • one-shot
    Pretty much how it goes. Start a fight, get an assault charge, then there goes your chances of getting a job at many places. I can relate to your comment very well. Lots of places I go to work do background checks and don't let people who have bad records on the property. If your goal is to join the Army, I guess it's okay to start fights according to the article.
  • nicklasd87
    one-shot, you only get an assault charge if you are convicted in court, as an adult. the argument in this article is for younger kids to embody these principles of physical fitness, people that won't necessarily screw up their future by getting in a scuffle on the school is too late for us though unfortunately....
  • Why the hell would the U.S. army consider MW2 a simulation
  • FUtomNOreg
    Soft? How does getting shot and hiding in a corner for five seconds to completely heal make you soft?
  • DokkRokken
    Catering to people with an itch to stab and hit people sounds like a recipe for disaster. I thought a reduction in physical violence on places like the playground was a good thing for society, or so I was led to believe.
  • ta152h
    It's probably not just fist fighting he's talking about. I see the newer generation is very gay, and weak as well. They don't work out hard, they don't like getting their hands dirty, and they just don't have the toughness. When we were kids, you were outdoors all day playing sports (some of which included boxing) or riding a bike, not playing video games and using gay terms like "eye candy". But, starting a fight was always considered a bad thing.

    So, now the army is getting these effeminate girly men, and struggling with it. Society has changed. I don't know if their training can undo a lifetime of laziness and weakness. For some, they need to be challenged physically and their nature will make them accept it, but for many, it might be too much to ask after eating Twinkies and shooting space aliens from a sofa all their lives.

    We better start working on killer robots.

  • t3po7re5
    I call it Cross Country
  • jeverson
    I think you guys are misunderstanding him. He is saying society as a whole is getting weaker. That would include everyone pressing charges instead of just standing up for themselves and being a man. I'm not saying you have to be violent to be a man but a man does need to be able to take of himself and his business. No one believes in honor or sacrifice anymore. I guess I'm lucky in that if I got into a scuffle with a class mate we just got detention and had to suck it up. Also, he is probably just using MW2 as an example of what new recruits thinks are simulations. You guys really need relax and read things with some intuition. I guess none of you have ever been in the military. I understood what he was trying to convey.