Training New Tactical Athletes At The Royal Montreal Regiment

Photos by Ben Mumme @ Lens by Benz

The RMR depot platoon showed up in force for the one day seminar on, “The Tactical Athlete” held December 1st and RMR home station.

The guiding question for the day was, “what is a tactical athlete?”

A tactical athlete is a person with the physical ability, stamina and strength to function on the battlefield.

Tactical athletes possess:

  • High levels of physical endurance

  • Exceptional stamina

  • Excellent agility and mobility

  • Superior levels of strength

  • Extraordinary mental toughness

Warriors, from every era, have always been subject to tremendous amount of physical demands and the most athletic of these warriors tended to have the most success on the battlefield. Traits such as agility, power, strength, speed and endurance are but to name a few of the necessary attributes of a warrior. So are the demands on a modern warrior any different that those expected of Roman Legionnaires or Canadian Devils Brigade operators in WWII?

I say no.

So why should the term “athlete” be associated with a soldier, now? The difference is in the accumulated body of knowledge that we now have on the modern warrior. Injury rates have been accumulated, load bearing capacities assessed and combat effectiveness ascertained since WWI and we’re now finally starting to understand the necessity of training our war fighters much the same as our elite athletes.

Referring to a recent article in, Think Defence, the average battle load of a British infantry soldier has progressively increased since the Boer War; from 27kg to a whopping 56kg or 123lbs in Afghanistan. According to a seminal report in 1868 titled, ‘The Second report of the committee appointed to inquire into the effect of the present system of accoutrements and knapsacks on the health of the infantry soldier, “fighting value of a soldier is in inverse proportion to load he carries.”

I can personally attest to the demands that a heavy load puts on your ability to patrol and fight effectively. My average battle load in Afghanistan was approximately 35kg or 80+ lbs. I’m a big guy so this wasn’t as burdensome than for the other, more diminutive types. Nevertheless, it meant that by hour six of a patrol I was starting to feel the effects of fatigue and a reduction in mental alertness that is so important when you are never sure when the fight is going to hit you.

There’s still awhile before the Boston Dynamics battle dog can carry our shit for us so what can an infantry soldier do to prepare themselves for the battle loads that expect no significant reductions in the near future?

Develop high levels of athletic prowess and fitness.

How can you achieve this? With a qualified, experienced coach. According to the same article I reference earlier:

“Implementing individual training programmes based on soldiers specialisms and starting points may be expensive but if it yields lower injury rates and improved ability to cope with the excess weight it could yield significant benefits that outweigh costs.”

This is what I do and what we did on our training day. Just like high level athletes, we addressed common movement pattern faults and how to address them, the necessity for optimal nutrition and the way to mitigate and prevent injuries common to most infantry soldiers. Having struggled with all of these aspects during my career as an infantry soldier, I want to do the absolute best job at conveying the importance of my lessons so that I can play a part in keeping our future warriors fit to fight.

Canadian Armed Forces Reserve personnel deserve high level fitness training in order to maintain their operational tempo to augment the Regular Force.

If your regiment or team feels like it would benefit from my tactical athlete coaching, please reach out and set up your own seminar date with a fifteen minute call here.

Thanks to RSM Stephan Leroux and Sgt Yoseph Butera for setting up this day.

Remember,

TRAIN HARD, FIGHT EASY

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