Peace time armies have the luxury of putting a relatively small emphasis on nuts and bolts combat training on the assumption most soldiers, even most infantrymen will not face combat. This was the situation in the 1970’s 1980’s and most of the 1990’s. This has not been the case since 9/11 as the military is about 1/3 smaller and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched the military too thin. With almost a decade of warfare behind us and almost certainly years of it ahead of us it makes sense to reevaluate how our troops are trained.
In short I am arguing for an end to “basic training” that spends too much time on things like making your bunk, keeping your foot locker, closer order drill and marching. Any time spent cleaning floors with toothbrushes could be better spent teaching hand to hand fighting, strength training or marksmanship. Whatever it is called the training should essentially be infantry training with the minimum amount of extras like how to wear the uniform, salute and recognize ranks etc.
The military pointed out that about ¾ of America’s youth cannot qualify for military training. This underscores the imperative that the military must make the most of the people they do get and ask more of them. If we are going to maintain only a minimum amount of ground troops even though we are fighting several land wars then every soldier must be an infantryman and every infantryman a special forces operator.