March 5, 2008, - 11:12 am
By Debbie Schlussel
While video games are touted as ways to improve shooting and other tactical skills, a generation of Marines who are playing video games more and hunting and analyzing the outdoors less is missing crucial skills.
That’s not me talking. It’s Col. Fred Padilla of the U.S. Marine Corps’ School of Infantry West, which now must train Marines in a way they didn’t have to in the past. A new program, “Combat Hunter” teaches new Marines the skills they used to learn while hunting and tracking.
The headline in an AP story on this calls it “Brainpower Over Firepower.” While hunting and hunters in America are derided as the activity of hicks and rural folk, clearly AP–and the Marines–are admitting that hunting does, indeed, teach skills of cunning and other important aspects of intellect:
[It is the] problem of telling friend from foe that the Marine Corps is trying to confront head on with a new training program that pushes brainpower over firepower.
Unveiled to reporters this week, the program – “Combat Hunter” – teaches human behavioral analysis, law enforcement profiling techniques and big game hunting and tracking practices. The program puts Marines through the paces of identifying and tracking an enemy without firing a shot.
“This is really about investing in the minds of Marines,” said Col. Fred Padilla of the Corps’ School of Infantry West, which oversees the training.
Padilla said today’s Marines have grown up inside their homes, playing on computers and with video games. They adapt to the use of new technology and equipment more quickly than earlier generations.
But it is also problematic, he says.
“They didn’t grow up outside,” learning how to analyze their surroundings or learning about the outdoors, he said. Earlier Marines had skills like hunting and tracking under their belts.
“What we are seeing now is a generation of Marines that don’t have those skills,” Padilla said.
The two-week course, which the Marines began testing in April 2007, includes classroom training and practicing scenarios in a fake Iraqi village at Camp Pendleton that has been used for various training exercises since the war began in 2003. The village built out of cargo shipping containers features an open-air market, a mosque, a police station and a bank.
About 750 Marines, mostly squad leaders, have been trained. They spread their knowledge among their troops. The training program has been in development since 2006. . . .
Greg Williams, a civilian contractor who works as a combat profiler and helped develop the training, says “Combat Hunter” teaches Marines to “read the human landscape.”
Though neither Williams nor the Corps would explain the training techniques in depth, the primary focus is identifying human behavioral patterns.
“It’s basically learning to turn that gut feeling into action,” Marine Capt. Brian Iglesias said.
There’s another important aspect of hunting not mentioned here. While there are some female hunters, it is innately a masculine activity, as is the hunting instinct. As the pop culture forces in our society continue to blur the gender roles and to take men away from masculine activities and into non-gender specific activities like video games, it’s not a good thing.
(For the record, while I support Americans’ right to keep and bear arms and hunt as they please, my own religion prohibits hunting. In Judaism, hunting is not allowed for sport. And since, kosher slaughter laws require that animals be slaughtered essentially by decapitation with a very sharp blade (designed to put the animal in as little pain as possible), kosher animals are slaughtered in captivity. Thus, hunting is prohibited.)
Tags: America, bank, Brian Iglesias, Camp Pendleton, Captain, civilian contractor, Colonel, Debbie Schlussel, Fred Padilla, Greg Williams, law enforcement profiling techniques, Marine Corps, Marine Infantry School, official, pain, U.S. Marine Corps' School of Infantry West, United States Marine Corps