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NEWS | Jan. 22, 2013

'Finish the fight:' Resolute Warriors take it to the mats

By Sgt. Edwin J. Rodriguez 7th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

The words "take off your footgear" are stenciled on the floor. A competitive energy pulses through the building, with people grappling using arm-bars and chokeholds. At the Fort Eustis Combatives Academy, these seemingly violet actions are the basics of the Army's Modern Combatives Program, and trainees are eager to learn.

"Army combatives maintains the warrior ethos. It instills the will to fight and engage the enemy," said Spc. Kendrick Washington Scott, an assistant instructor for the academy currently assigned to the 149th Seaport Operations Company, 10th Transportation Battalion, 7th Sustainment Brigade. "If their assigned weapon doesn't fire, we give them the skills to finish the fight."

The MCP begins at basic training, where Soldiers learn to maintain and keep accountability of their assigned weapon. Soldiers are taught to never relinquish their weapon to anyone, especially the enemy. The three basic options specific for combatants are to disengage with the enemy, gain a controlling position and finish the fight.

The first two days of the 40-hour level-one course cover striking and protection drills. Day three features option-three drills, and provides the first opportunity for Soldiers to get hands-on experience.

"Combatants will engage their opponents and react to contact. They will then utilize one of the three basic clinches that they have been shown in order to tie up their opponent and keep themselves from getting hit," said Scott.

The brigade's Soldiers, primarily from the Special Troops Battalion, said they are able and prepared.

"It's going very well," said Sgt. Kelsey Miller, assigned to the 558th Transportation Company, STB. "We are going through the movements by repetition after repetition. It is making us stronger than when we first started."

"It definitely incorporates discipline and hard work," said Sgt. Aaron Kowall, assigned to the 235th Signal Company, STB. "They really train you extensively here. It is only a week-long course, so there a lot of work to cover. The trainers have a lot of knowledge and are bringing in techniques I have never heard of."

On Friday, the trainees must pass a final test before they can move to the Level-Two class.

"They have to complete the react to contact drills, which are option-three drills. They will have to engage an opponent and use non-deadly force to take down their opponent," said Staff Sgt. Jedadiah Eustaquio, a level-two instructor assigned to the 368th SOC, 10th Trans. Bn. "Once they graduate, it is up to them to take this training back to their units and train others using these techniques."

The instructors said that at the end of the course, the Soldiers "will have changed enormously."

"They are going to be a lot more confident in themselves, grow into more competent warriors and hold up their heads a little higher," said Eustaquio.

"Everyone is leaving more confident that they can fight," Scott added. "If it was challenging before, they now feel encouraged to complete the task. At the end, you will see an evolution of that Soldier to where they are not just 'high speed,' but have an added energy different from normal training."

Not only does the combatives program seem to give confidence to these warriors, it also encourages them to teach others.

"I would definitely pursue Combatives Level-Two, and maybe instruct Level-One, especially to those who may not get the chance to go through the full 40-hour course," said Kowall. "It was a great experience."