The Army is making changes to its basic training regimen, partially because new recruits are “soft” from years of playing video games.
NPR quotes Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling as saying that recruits are “advanced in terms of their use of technology, and maybe not as advanced in their physical capabilities or ability to go into a fight.”
New recruits will receive more extensive training in hand-to-hand skills like kicking, punching and holds to prepare recruits for that kind of close combat that Hertling expects our soldiers to “be in for a very long time.”
Not only are the the recruits these days poor grapplers, punchers, and kickers, they aren’t very disciplined, either. Hertling says that the video game generation has a technological edge–he concedes they might be the “smartest” recruits the Army has ever seen–but that means they “ask a lot of questions.” The NPR story continues:
It’s not just a fitness issue, either. “We certainly have a generation that is not as disciplined when they enter the military.”
“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,” Hertling says.
Despite the drop in athleticism, I think video games have actually helped the military more than they’ve hurt them. The Army has used video games to help recruit soldiers for years–and clearly, they’re getting recruits that have been playing videogames so often that it has made them poor specimens for hand to hand combat. It also doesn’t hurt that a lot of the games glorify killing bunches of people–on some level, growing up wasting bad guys on a screen prepares the mind for careers in the military where the advanced gee-wiz technology means you occasionally get to waste bad guys on a screen in real life. A number of times during interviews I’ve done with with soldiers and Marines about their combat experience, they’ve compared it to actually being in a video game rather than a movie.