What Right Looks Like:
Physical Readiness

July 19, 2011

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, U.S. Army Europe Commanding General

USAREUR Teammates,

As I travel around USAREUR, many Soldiers (and leaders) ask me about the new Physical Readiness Training Circular (TC 3.22-20), and the proposed new Physical Readiness and Combat Readiness Test that the Army is piloting. Some know of my involvement in the Army's changes in these, and they are interested in the program.  I've been wanting to send out a WRLL on PRTs for a while, but didn't want you all to think it's the only thing on my mind!

But today, I saw "what right looks like," and that made me think it was time to put something on the net.  The WRLL was personified in a young NCO (SSG Canty) assigned to the garrison in the Netherlands who invited me to do PRT with her team during my visit there.

SSG Canty has studied the new manual, and has trained her 30+ soldiers in the recommended techniques for about the last month.  They are in what is called the "Toughening Phase" of training (the early stages, described in the TC), and it was obvious to me she knew her stuff, she had planned her training, she knew how to motivate and lead, and her Soldiers all were improving their physical readiness. 

Frankly, the training event this morning was done to standard!  It was a credit to this young NCO, and her commanders.

I'd ask all of you leaders to check your formations to see if they are applying the techniques of the new program, and I'd ask all leaders to start returning to doing PRT with your Soldiers.

As many of you know, we are challenged with fitness in our Army.  While some Soldiers are gym rats, love to work out, and spend a lot of time in the gym, studies and statistics show the majority of our Soldiers are from a generation that has not had PE in elementary or secondary schools (State Schools, for the most part, stopped PE in the mid-1990s...most of the current generation of 18-20 year olds have never had a PE class in their life), their diets are filled with things that are not good for the human body (which also affects bone density and teeth decay, hence our high injury and DENTAL Cat 3 and 4 rates), and many are not prepared for the rigors of being a tactical athlete.

Our older Soldiers are not immune: many have spent parts of the last 10 years in combat getting away from organized physical training, and many have been subjected to the excessive calories associated with KBR meals on FOBs.  It only takes a look around to see the result in some that are in our formations.

Today, in some units, we don't have organized Physical Readiness Training; I often see squad leaders taking soldiers to the gym and telling them to work out on their own.  This isn't good for our conditioning, our teambuilding, or our leader development.

So, I'm asking you to help me turn it around.

-- Take a look at TC 3.22-20 (you'll be amazed at how some of it resembles many of the more popular fitness crazes that people swear by...Cross-fit, P90x, body pump, Pilates, etc). 

-- Canvas your formations for younger leaders who have been trained in the new approach (all our recent WLC grads, and most BOLC Lts have been trained on the approach).

-- Start ensuring your leaders (LTs, Cpts, Senior NCOs) are in attendance at your PT sessions, instead of doing that admin work that always pulls them away.

-- Get away from the long runs, and get into the things that develop what we need in combat: core strength and anaerobic/aerobic power (I'll challenge anyone who says a 5 mile run is the way to improve readiness to a series of 90-120s that are described in the manual, and we'll see who has the tougher workout)

-- For anyone who thinks the current PT test scores will be lowered, research shows that just two months of doing the PRT as described will raise a units' APFT scores by 20-30 points, on average.

-- Get back to counseling those who don't meet HT/WT standards, and PT test scores (even though a new test is coming).  Again, going back to our bar numbers that I mentioned in WRLL #4, we don't have a lot of Soldiers who are being monitored officially in these two areas...and I have the data to prove it if anyone wants to question this.

So, thanks to the reminder provided by SSG Canty, I'm asking you to take a look at this area in your formations. Then train your Soldiers the right way to be tactical athletes.