It seems the U.S. Army, after interviewing 900 soldiers involved in hand to hand combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, has decided to change it’s close quarters combat program to de-emphasize ground fighting.Starting next month, soldiers will focus more on stand up grappling and weapons control more useful in the urban combat scenarios they find themselves in.
I, and many others, have always felt that soldiers carrying packs, rifles, and wearing body armor do not belong wrestling on the ground. Unfortunately, I believe that some military commanders had been sold by the “UFC has proven that Brazilian Jui-Jitsu is the ultimate martial art on the planet” hype. I have spoken to many people who have fought in hand to hand combat, going back to World War II veterans, and it seems that I am mirroring their opinions, and now the opinions of the current military forces.
This is not to take anything away from Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, it’s as good an art as any – for its given strengths. But the current way it’s taught is for half-dressed or gi-clad guys in matching weight classes to fight inside a ring. IT does not take into account how to fight in armor, while holding a rifle, inside cramped hallways.
I have written about mission centric training before. The current missions of the U.S. military in the Middle East involve a lot of urban close-quarters warfare. The training needs to reflect that as accurately as possible. According to the Army, training will include, “knee strikes, clinch drills, fighting with weapons and combat equipment, and pushing terror suspects against the wall.” This is a better reflection of what is going on that a sport-oriented grappling program.
I hope that “fighting with weapons” includes knife and bayonet training. In today’s modern world of smart-bombs and cruise-missiles, edged weapon fighting might seem quaint. However, every war and police action the U.S. military has been involved with has had troops fighting in close quarters with blades.