The Army is remaking its basic training for the first time in 30 years to cope with a generation that, as the general in charge says, has a courage and physique shaped by, you guessed it, video games.
Speaking to National Public Radio this weekend, Army Lt Gen Mark Hertling didn’t single games out specifically, but when he talks about raw recruits’ preternatural grasp of technology, combined with an “across-the-board decline” in “physical capacity”, we can connect the dots.
“This isn’t a decline in our recruits; this is a decline in our American society in terms of their physical capacity. It’s just a softer generation,” he says.
It’s a generation of young men and women “who are advanced in terms of the use of technology and maybe not as advanced in their physical capabilities, or ability to go into a fight.”
What’s more, what’s upstairs needs a lot of polish, too. It’s “a generation that is not as disciplined when they enter the military.
“They team differently; they have loyalty,” Hertling offers, but “whereas they might have what they believe is a form of courage or discipline, it’s not what we expect of a soldier in very tense and difficult situations.” I suppose we can blame that on the relatively late arrival of cover-based first-person combat.
Hertling does praise the current generation for its intelligence and, again, familiarity with technology. And also their critical thinking skills, “They certainly ask a lot more difficult questions,” he said. But that’s not really a virtue in a high pressure job where orders are given and expected to be followed.
New Basic Training Hardens ‘Softer Generation’ [NPR]