“Were you born a fat, slimy, scumbag puke piece o’ shit, Private Pyle,
or did you have to work on it?”

During the past decade, the U.S. Army has faced what it regards as a serious internal threat: young recruits entering in terrible shape.

In a radical shift, the Army is overhauling the way it trains, cares for and feeds new soldiers. So, as fad workouts increasingly borrow Army terms like “boot camp,” actual basic training is starting to look a bit like a new-age fitness camp — but with harsh words, severe haircuts and firearms. […] Many of the freezing future soldiers, in gray sweats, caps and gloves, are struggling to do a few pull-ups.

A decade ago, the Army started to notice that new recruits were, in general, getting weaker. […] The Army’s problem, Stone and others say, is that most current enlistees grew up on the couch, playing video games, rather than horsing around outside. And public schools have cut gym classes.
Palkoska has completely revamped basic training at all posts, starting with, well, the basics: stretching and holding; mastering simple, precise movements. Soon, athletic trainers and physical therapists will join these workouts at Fort Leonard Wood to help soldiers avoid injuries and to quickly treat those that occur.

“I saw a lot of folks saying that we had gone to yoga and Pilates,” says Mark Hertling, the three-star general in charge of initial military training for the entire Army. “And I’m saying, ‘Where the hell did they get that?’ It’s all about functional fitness, and using the body the way it might have to be used in a tactical situation.”

  1. DJ says:

    This article is about the Army. The accompanying photos are from Full Metal Jacket, which depicts the United States Marine Corps… you can be assured that the Marines have not “completely revamped basic training” to the point where it could be confused with yoga and pilates.

  2. Animal Mother says:

    Please leave the homo-erotic fetishism of the USMC out of any conversation concerning the U.S. Army.

  3. Special Ed says:

    I recall my time in the Army and thinking if I had to go into battle with several of these individuals, I’m going to shoot them first.

  4. McCullough says:

    #3. Yeah, starting with the “officers”.

  5. Animby says:

    Of course, the image above is not illustrating a dressing down of Gomer Pyle. They are being taught the difference between two very different things. The marching cadence here is counted to the rhythm of:
    this is my rifle
    this is my gun
    this is for killing
    this is for fun

  6. Mac Guy says:

    #5 – I, on the other hand, do have a picture of the jelly doughnut scene, autographed by GySgt R. Lee Ermy (USMC – Retired).

  7. Maricopa says:

    I have a friend who caters for movie productions. He says Ermy is one of the funniest guys he’s ever met.

  8. bobbo, "Military Madness, was ruining my country..." says:

    YOU KNOW, its been years but I still recall meeting my first group of Army Paratroopers. They struck me as cannon fodder. The Chief Master Sargents were as stiff as their collars. Unbelievably stupid. Made my AF guys look really (REALLY) good.

    I think back to those few days, and have no doubt that “those” guys would have fired on American Citizens if ordered to do so. Evidently, the advantage of a draft army is that they wouldn’t do that? With today’s mercenaries, there is no doubt they would.

    Is it progress to go from believing something that isn’t true to knowing something that isn’t good?

    Ha, ha.

  9. msbpodcast says:

    You must be kidding!

    Children in these United States not fit for combat.

    Hell if you’re sending them to Iraq of Afghanistan to get shot, might as well send the fat ugly f*cks, as cannon fodder.

    The military back in the 1977 weren’t in such great shape either. (My brother-in-law was a US Marine so I got to go to Wiesbaden for a visit. [Little did I suspect how much pussy looking like a Bader-Meinhoffer, aka member of the “Rote Armee Fraktion” would get me! :-])

    I remember a sergeant trying to give me crap as I was on top of a Gamma-Goat painting it “ugly military green” (my B.i.L. was trying to operate a FADAC and I already had an HP-45 and knew assembler so I was helping him), letting my freak-flag fly, I had LONG hair then and I have LONG hair now.

    My response to his “Somebody needs to get a haircut” was to do a back-flip into a perfect landing off of the Gama-Goat, land in a crouch and reply with a poke to his gut “somebody needs to lose some weight.”

    I then climbed/hopped back up on the top of the Gamma-goat and continued with the paint job. 🙂

    My B.i.L. got shit later but I was right so I didn’t.

    Remember kids, when you’re running from a bear, you just have to be faster than the other meal next to you.

    You want to be as fast as possible. That usually means as thin as possible.

  10. jbenson2 says:

    After reading his posts over the past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that Uncle Dave detests just about everything in the USA.

    [Or maybe he just finds everything in the USA amusing. – ed.]

  11. nobody says:

    > using the body the way it might have to be used in a tactical situation

    So have they finally given up on the wall with a rope over the top?
    One feature I have always found notably lacking from battlefields is 6ft walls with ropes hanging from them.

  12. nobody says:

    Meanwhile the Airforce is complaining that it only gets white teethed fitness freaks who watched TopGun – while it’s desperate for couch potato computer game geeks to fly it’s predator drones.

  13. Gildersleeve says:

    I blame the schools primarily for the fitness problem. Most gym classes were designed primarily to locate and develop the athletic talent. Short shrift was paid to ‘the rest of us’ who needed time during the day to work out and learn how to keep the flab off. Weight problems are still regarded as a measure of personal failing, and as such are largely being left untreated. This needs to be changed but I doubt it ever will be; no money in it.

  14. Animby says:

    When I can download an episode, I love to watch shows like COPS. It makes you wonder if there are any police officers left who weigh less than 250 pounds. I know some of them are wearing body armor. They’re the ones who look like they weigh 300.

    # 11 nobody said, “notably lacking from battlefields is 6ft walls with ropes hanging from them:

    I don’t know about that. In my experience, I remember using ropes and/or vines to clear many an obstacle. Generally not as pleasant as a wall.

    # 8 bobbo, “They struck me as cannon fodder.”

    They were designed as cannon fodder. Drop an “elite” (read ‘brainless’) force of combat zombies behind enemy lines carrying everything they will need – perhaps forever – with the mission to proceed in a certain direction and shoot anything they see. I believe when they were first organized, the predictions were like 75% casualties. Wounded was as good as dead. It’s probably better these days since the troops also drop vehicles and supplies and the advent of helicopters made it easier to support and extract. But that’s why I went Ranger. Still airborne qualified but more into recon and infiltration, i.e. suicide.

    Of course, I’ve given up those evil ways and now I’m comfortably fat and try to help. But I still trek through the jungle and I still use vines to help clear obstacles. I saw a wild tiger in Cambodia a couple of months ago. Quite a thrill. Especially when you suddenly remember you no longer have an M-16 with you! Heck, all I had to defend myself with was a high tech aluminum walking stick. Tiger could have used that as a toothpick.

  15. bobbo, is there any difference between a fact and a belief says:

    Animby–you been drinking again? Heavy into reminiscing tonight. Of course, I will go down memory lane with you.

    I recall visiting the Museum of/at the Citadel and the docent going on about the gallantry of the graduating class who volunteered to go out and confront the oncoming Union troops during the Civil War. He got somewhat upset when I commented they were used as cannon fodder to no tactical benefit.

    How stupid are we that so many still view “WAR” as anything but failure? And what, USA is in 6 hot wars right now with troops in 50 other countries all finaced by grandkiddie debt? Kinda reminds me of in the Proud tradition of the Citadel.

    Stoopid Hoomans.

  16. Animby says:

    #15 – Bobbo – except they paid off the Civil War tout suite! If they’d run up the equivalent debt to what we are doing now, well, we’d STILL be paying for Gettysburg…

  17. jescott418 says:

    I think I read somewhere that many of the wounded or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan were newer recruits. I think its been said before that the quality of people entering the military has gone down.

  18. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    Seems to me that enlistments of all kinds are harder to get when there’s a war on. It’s hard to flush out the bottom 15% when you need every cannon to be foddered.

    (I made up that last word)

    That new Microsoft dance sensor thing could help, right?

  19. Animby says:

    #19 Olo: “(I made up that last word)”


    trans.vb. fod·dered, fod·der·ing, fod·ders
    To feed with fodder.

  20. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    Well, then it was a good guess. lol

  21. Personality says:

    It’s not the video games! Been playing them every day for 16 years. Bench 240, 16% body fat. (pats self on back)

  22. jeffro says:

    On an almost completely unrelated note, it occurs to me that “crises” is the plural of “crisis”. Is the logo that way on purpose?

  23. JimD says:

    Well you know, those TAX CUTS FOR THE MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES have been a hit on Education – Gym Classes and ever Recesses where kids could run around and burn off energy and fat are no more !!! Unintended consequences !!! Now the Millionaires and Billionaires have to HIRE PRIVATE SECURITY FORCES – DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL !!! Sucks to be Rich, when paying some taxes could have avoided this …

  24. smartalix says:

    Hell, one of the reasons I joined the Army was to get in shape.

  25. ethanol says:

    @jescott418 #18,
    It has always been the “newer recruits” and newly deployed to the theater that have much higher rates of death/wounding. Just like that in Vietnam, at least.

    @smartalix #25,
    Same here and to learn discipline. Seriously, and it worked. P.S. are you dug out from that blizzard yet?

  26. gopher says:

    Have a Tissue..Shut up.

  27. Animal Mother says:


    Gama-Goat? Holy crap, that was a long time ago.

    USAF weenies are now crying about not getting their combat flight pay for flying drones in Afghanistan from Nellis AFB, Nevada. Little beyatches.

  28. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    Haliburton or KBR set up mess halls in Iraq. There, troops could get 4 meals/day – all one could eat. Overweight was becoming a problem by 2004. Did the contractors consult the army?

    Source: From an episode of Nova on PBS from 2004.

  29. Floyd says:

    “After reading his posts over the past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that Uncle Dave detests just about everything in the USA.”

    “[Or maybe he just finds everything in the USA amusing. – ed.]”

    As a Vietnam era vet, I found almost everything about the Army to be amusing. My sense of humor (and a decent girlfriend that I kept in touch with over the years until she died about a year ago) were what kept me sane while I was “playing Army.”

  30. farbauti says:

    #3 and #4 right there with you.


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