BATTLESPORTS The Mars Games.
The British army fitness test that all recruits must pass is a timed run over several miles.
To this we can apply the good old military tool of "so what?"
I personally can't run for more than a couple of minutes- but I can hike with a heavy pack over "hill and dale" all day and most of the evening.
Mike Sparks in articles such as "FITNESS SHOULD BE COMBAT-ORIENTED" has pointed out that it is more useful that a soldier can maintain a 6 mph march with full kit than be a sprinter.
In "War Behind Enemy Lines" by Julian Thompson there is a comment by Lt. Colonel Lloyd Owen, Long Range Desert Group, that
"One of the finest methods of hardening men without destroying their interest or damping their enthusiasm was by teaching them how to ski."
This was cross country skiing and the LRDG, Britain's top special forces unit at the time was about to deploy in Italy, where it had no intention of actually operating on skis.
Peace time service men get to enjoy many sporting activities. Maybe it would be prudent to encourage them into those that hone useful military skills?
My friend Ed comments that Biathlon (skiing and shooting) seems to be great training for infantry scouts. Obviously a military version should use service or sniper rifles. A temperate version is also possible and may involve aspects of navigation skills to find the targets or ammunition caches.
Other military sports suggest themselves:-
- Freestyle unarmed combat.
- Bayonet fencing.
- Rover- a medieval game resembling golf but using a longbow. A modern version would use Rifle Grenades or Grenade launchers.
- Timed march. Resembling orienteering but involving greater distances and full kit. May involve rock scrambles or traversing urban, swamp or mountainous terrain. This would be both an individual and unit event
- Snap shooting. A "Hogan's alley" type course but using issue weapons or their equivalent.
- Grenade toss- like shot-putt but involving accuracy too. Grenades must hit a tank hatch sized target.
- Standing jump- this used to be an Olympic event but was dropped. Soviet SPETZNAZ placed great emphasis on a recruit's performance in this discipline.
All of these sports suggest an event equivalent to the Olympics. The name "Mars Games" suggests itself. The original Olympics were based on contemporary military and survival skills such, running, jumping, wrestling and throwing javelin. They also involved a duplicate set of events performed wearing battle armour. Such realistic considerations should be incorporated into modern military games.
The Mars games should be open to every unit - if the rangers or marines get beaten by an artillery unit then maybe they need to rethink.
Ralph Zumbro comments:-
Consider this event. A land navigation course in which only one compass bearing, the initial one, is given. The participants are NOT told any particulars, only to come with full infantry gear. Each contestant MUST accurately navigate the course in order to get the next bearing. OK so far, we've all been on one of these.
The new trick is that at each pivot point, there is an event. A grenade competition, a 100 yard dash in full gear, a shooting competition, a river crossing, or whatever. The contestants are deliberately NOT told that at the last stop is a full scale German gasthause run by mini-skirted young ladies and with a truck back to the start point waiting outside for the survivors
PW: You've certainly got motivation sorted out! This would be a good event for the last day since it incorporates many of the previous events. What I like about this is it selects for versatile soldiers.