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Army Reportedly to Reduce Combat Training -- Prompting Worry About Losing a 'Life-or-Death Skill

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"This is the last line of defense you have to protect yourself and your men.”

A new report says a restructuring of the Army's hand-to-hand combat training could come by the end of the month, leading to worry that it could be result in the loss of "a life-or-death skill."

Modern Army Combatives Program Modern Army Combatives Program (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Army Times spoke with a senior noncommissioned officer and obtained an email from Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), which states the four courses for the Modern Army Combatives Program could be condensed from five weeks to no more than two.

Currently, the Modern Army Combatives Program includes "a weeklong basic course, a two-week tactical course, and a basic combatives instructor course and a tactical combatives instructor course, each of which is four weeks long," according to the Army Times.

TRADOC apparently called for proposals that would create a two-week master combatives trainer course, which has some saying it could have "serious" consequences on the preparedness of soldiers. The proposals for the new curriculum are due by Sept. 30, and the email, the Army Times reported, states “implementation of the new program would occur as quickly as possible.”

“I think it’s going to be detrimental to the force moving forward,” the senior NCO, who asked to go unnamed, told the Times. “We’re taking away so much training, and it’s not only soldiers’ ability to fight, but confidence, instilling the warrior ethos in the individual soldier, and some of those intangibles that can’t be measured.”

Staff Sgt. Colton Smith, the chief combatives instructor for III Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, told the Times the training is "a life-or-death skill" for infantrymen.

“Being the fastest runner or the best ruck marcher or the best guy who does pullups and pushups, that’s great,” Smith continued. “But it doesn’t save lives like combatives."

“Hand-to-hand situations will happen,” he said. “You run out of ammo, your weapon malfunctions. This is the last line of defense you have to protect yourself and your men.”

The lead combatives instructor for 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, Kan., Sean Roberts, agreed, telling the Army Times "any significant changes to the training model could result in serious potential for increased injury rates and reduced operational preparedness for soldiers."

The existing training program worked because it allowed the solider time to become proficient.

“You can’t have an individual who’s received a minimum amount of training have maximum responsibility and not expect catastrophic failure at some point," Roberts told the Times.

For those that argue modern weapons take out the necessity of some hand-to-hand combat, Matt Larsen, former director of the combatives program, said the modern battlefield, which takes soldiers into buildings and small areas, "makes hand-to-hand combat much more likely than it even was in previous conflicts,” the Times reported.

The Modern Army Combatives Program did not immediately return a request for comment from TheBlaze.

Read the Army Times' full article for more on the proposed changes and the perspectives about them.

Watch this video showing the Modern Army Combatives Program at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Virginia:

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