Army Initiates Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program

The US Army’s master resilience training school will open on Fort Jackson in April.

The school is part of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, the Army’s latest attempt to train Soldiers not only for war, but also for life.  To that end, the CSF program describes “five dimensions of strength:”  Physical, Emotional, Social, Family, and Spiritual.

The Army apparently recognizes one of the most common displays of spiritual strength among its Soldiers: the poster for “spiritual strength” contains a photograph of uniformed and armed Army members praying in a circle.

US Army Graphic

US Army Graphic

Ironically, this public expression of spirituality is occasionally imperiled by critics who feel that the displays inappropriately connect the US military with religion (more specifically, Christianity).  For the time being, the military’s hypersensitivity to religious offense has not yet restricted public displays of group prayer (a common occurrence in both Afghanistan and Iraq prior to combat).  It is worth noting that the Army’s summary definition of spiritual strength does not imply it has to be religion, but is a

set of beliefs, principles, or values that sustain a person beyond family, institutional, and societal sources of strength.

This is a concept supported by the Chaplaincy.  Though sometimes difficult to find the right word for, it has been the Army’s attempt to say that everyone has something that drives their inner being that can be improved under the banner of “spiritual strength.”

This course was previously discussed, and while an admirable effort by the Army, has been criticized as a re-packaged “power of positive thinking” program.  Ultimately, the school is an attempt by the Army to train the “whole person:”

“Soldiers are going to (learn) life skills and coping skills — skills that are going to help them be better and more effective leaders,” said Sgt. Maj. Stanley Johnson, headquarters TRADOC, who is serving as a liaison between Victory University and the University of Pennsylvania.