Sand Hill trainees negotiate a confidence course designed to physically and mentally challenge them. (Image courtesy of U.S. Army/Markeith Horace)
“For both professional football players and professional Soldiers, performance matters,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Burbelo, human dimension lead and executive officer for the Maneuver Center of Excellence Directorate of Training and Doctrine.
Fort Benning leadership is working on a partnership with the Atlanta Falcons that will benefit both organizations and focus on four areas: leadership, community relations, Soldier for Life and Human Performance, said Mike Burns, special assistant to the commanding general.
According to the Army Human Dimension Strategy, through investment in its human capital, the Army can maintain the decisive edge in the human dimension – the cognitive, physical and social components of the Army’s trusted professionals and teams – by optimizing the human performance of Soldiers and Army civilians.
Since Fort Benning is training the future force, the more the Army can optimize the Soldiers’ performances, the more MCoE can shape the force for the future and build better Soldiers, Burbelo said.
“Whereas in football you have the professional athlete, we frequently use the term Soldier-athlete or tactical athlete,” Burbelo said. “Part of the relationship (with the Atlanta Falcons) is to share the Soldier-athlete and professional athlete connection.”
“Soldier-athlete is the idea that we have to be smarter about how we prepare Soldiers for combat,” said Capt. Calvin Santos, human dimension project officer at the MCoE Directorate of Training and Doctrine. “Our job is inherently physical when you get down to the basics. As such, we have to make sure that our Soldiers are trained to meet the physical demands of their jobs. This is why you see such an emphasis on physical fitness, nutrition and rest and recovery.”
The other part is how can we share ideas and best practices, and how do we optimize human performance, Burbelo added. The human dimension work group is really interested in how the Falcons approach their exercise regimens and nutrition. One of the objectives is for Soldiers to gain an appreciation for professional athletes in terms of their physical and nutritional fitness.
“We’re also looking at injury prevention,” Santos said.
The Atlanta Falcons use a Fitbit-type technology and they are looking at the metrics of the athlete’s performances, instead of only listening to what the athlete is saying, added Santos.
The question, Burbelo said, is “how do we use sports analytics for Soldier development and training?”
Burbelo added that the human dimension initiative is also looking at team performance – how you build the team, create cohesion and develop teamwork.
“Individuals who work better together are going to be a more effective fighting force, than individuals who don’t work together.” Santos said.
He added that units would rather have Soldiers who are strong models of character and can do basic Soldiering, rather than Soldiers who are trained but untrustworthy.
“What we do here at Fort Benning is relevant to the operational force,” Burbelo said.
The Maneuver Center of Excellence wants to continually be viewed as the organization that transitions human science into operational readiness, he added. The Army wants the people it sends to Fort Benning to have an appreciation for it as a place that is taking the Army into the future.
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