Friday, January 29, 2010

Train Teenagers as Soldiers

I have been reading and hearing about how new recruits for the armed services are, taken as a whole, in unusually poor physical condition. A lot of effort goes into getting them in sufficient shape to meet minimum fitness standards. I suppose seven hours a day in front of TVs and computers and texting leave little time for exercise.

Arguably, the need for physically fit bullet stoppers makes secondary school physical education a matter of national security. I propose that the DoD take over gym programs in American schools and design and operate them to get youngsters ready for military duty and to keep them that way. Gym teachers would come off school district budgets, and coaches could be used to teach academic courses or drivers ed instead of PE. Let's face it. PE programs have failed to make our youth fit for duty.

Gym teachers would be active duty drill instructors. Over the course of four years of high school, they should be able to get just about every youngster fit.

Everybody wins. Kids get fit whether they become bullet stoppers or not. The armed forces get a pool of recruits that are ready to learn soldiering from day one. Schools get PE programs off their plates.

It may even be possible at some point to include all the training that soldiers get in Basic Training in the program. What soldiers learn in a few weeks of BT could be drilled over and over during four years of high school. That would be good for the armed forces if those trained youth enlist. Moreover, those who do not enlist will be better equipped to serve as the unorganized militia in the event of a national emergency.

Some more advanced youngsters could even opt to take Advanced Individual Training and qualify for a Military Occupational Specialty during high school.

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