A recent decision by the Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, has been met with universal praise: No more stupid, mandatory training programs!
In fairness to the now-defunct online classes, yes, Soldiers should be aware of the risks inherent in traveling, the dangers of misusing social media, and that human trafficking is still a concern in 2018. But did the process of taking a four-day pass really need to include a mandatory class about why seat belts are important? Probably not.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)
In his April 13th, 2018, memo, Secretary Mark Esper wrote,
“Mandatory training will not have a prescribed duration for conducting the training. All mandatory training must have alternative methods of delivery which do not require the use of an automated system or project system.”
To be clear, his decision is not cancelling all military training — that’d be ridiculous. It’s just stopping the online classes that are, essentially, glorified PowerPoint presentations. These are the classes that need to get done just so a box is checked, regardless of whether a troop actually learned the lesson or not.
(Photo by Sgt. Ashland Ferguson)
So, let’s break this down to a boots-on-ground level for a regular private first class trying to see his or her family over leave. According to older standards, the Soldier would have to log on the website, click “Next” repeatedly until they reach the end, and hope they can get at least a 60% on the final quiz.
Now, the responsibility is back in the hands of the NCOs. If a sergeant feels the need to break down, Barney-style, why a wearing a seat belt reduces crash-related injuries and deaths by about half, then it’s on them. If they don’t feel the need to re-explain obvious traffic laws, they can instead spend the two hours that would otherwise been used on clicking “Next” for, you know, actual military training.