January 01, 2007
Recently, the USMC released its groundbreaking new "Concept for Functional Fitness."
"The United States Marine Corps has for many years taken pride in the level of physical fitness of its members. Physical fitness has been associated with professional performance, especially performance in combat. This association is correct because combat is the factor that should matter most to a fighting organization. However, the Marine Corps' Physical Fitness Program, as it is currently focused and structured, does not adequately prepare Marines for combat. In fact, other than the inherent ingenuity that some forward-thinking commanders evidence, the focus of the program seems to have only a mediocre combat focus at best. Further, most units find it difficult to follow the program as it stands, but even if the units did, they would still find that their people were insufficiently prepared for the physical rigors of combat.
Marines are athletes. Their preparation for combat is not unlike a collegiate or professional athlete's preparation for his of her sport. There are some key differences of course. Marines do not know the exact game they will be laying and they do not know the climate for the game. They do not know the rules. Marines do not even know when they will be "playing." However, these factors only make preparation more difficult for combat as compared to preparing for a season of sports.
Many of the unknown (and unknowable) factors reinforce an argument that Marines need a general purpose sort of fitness--a fitness that is based on the functions of combat operations. "