Tag Archives: comprehensive soldier fitness

Marines to Try Out Buddhist Mindfulness, Critics Stay Silent

Update:  Former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt says the Marines should be considering Christianity, not Buddhism:

“I think getting rid of anxiety is important. We need to decrease the suicide rate among our Marines,” he agrees. “But Buddhism is not the way to do that. I think Christianity is intellectually a better way to promote healthy mental awareness.”

Like Chaplain Lee, Klingenschmitt wonders where the normally vociferous critic Michael Weinstein is right now [emphasis added]:

Klingenschmitt wonders why Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has not complained about this.

“He ought to be up in arms about Buddhism being forced on our Marines, but he’s pretty silent on this because he’s really not interested in freedom of religion; instead he’s interested in silencing Christianity,” the former chaplain reasons. “So his deaf silence about this Buddhism issue proves that he’s a hypocrite.”

Klingenschmitt prevailed when Weinstein filed a lawsuit against him.  Now Klingenschmitt is suing Weinstein.


The Associated Press finally picked up the story discussed earlier about an early December announcement the US Marines were experimenting with “mindfulness,” or “Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training” based in some parts on eastern religions.

Marine Corps officials say they will build a curriculum that would integrate mindfulness-based techniques into their training if they see positive results from a pilot project. Mindfulness is a Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present…

“Some people might say these are Eastern-based religious practices but this goes way beyond that,” said Jeffery Bearor, the executive deputy of the Marine Corps training and education command at its headquarters in Quantico, Va.. “This is not tied to any religious practice. This is about mental preparation to better handle stress.”…

The goal is noble, even if it seeks to minimize the inherently religious aspects of the very objectives they are pursuing.  Faith — including, notably, the Christian faith — has long been thought to play an important role in an individual’s dealings with stress.

Perhaps someday the government will be able to publicly acknowledge the value of religious faith — and thus encourage such faith among US servicemembers.  For now, retired Chaplain (BrigGen) Douglas Lee said Christianity is so stigmatized the military is desperately looking for ways to fight stress and suicide — even to religions other than the hope that can be found in Christianity.

“I personally believe that part of the problem is that because of the attacks on traditional Christianity and Judeo-Christian values, the course guys are struggling because they don’t see anybody talking about hope…So they’re desperate to find some way to reduce the suicide rate.”

Lee also noted it was no small irony that people like Michael Weinstein and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have had nothing to say about the military borrowing aspects of religion — so long as it isn’t Christianity:

Lee contends those groups would be complaining loudly if the Camp Pendleton class incorporated Christian practices.

He’s right.  Weinstein normally has a vitriolic list of alliterative adjectives when the military so much as glances in the direction of Christianity.  But he’s probably all for government-endorsed religious elements if they undermine the plans of the super-secret Christian Triumvirate shadow government trying to take over the world.

(The MRFF discovered their plans for a secret underground bunker, so they’ve had to change their headquarters.  Rumor has it they favor chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.)

Also at the Washington Post.

FRC Criticizes US Military Adoption of Yoga

In early December the Washington Times posted a lengthy article on the US Marines “expanding use of meditation training” — essentially, aspects of yoga and Eastern religions.  The article was little different than the ones noted here over the past several years, documenting the increasing official acceptance — and even mandatory use — of the physical aspects of some Eastern religions.

More recently, the FRC‘s Tony Perkins criticized the military’s incorporation of “meditation:”

In the military, it’s out with God — and in with the goofy!…As part some new training, Marines are being asked to join weekly yoga and meditation classes…

Former Army Captain Elizabeth Stanley…insists the new age Continue reading

Chaplain Promotes Comprehensive Fitness in Afghanistan

US Army Chaplain (Capt) Randy Loux is a Fort Bragg-based Soldier currently deployed to Afghanistan to exercise his specialty in “spiritual strength.”

“Whether back in garrison at Fort Bragg, N.C., or in a combat zone in Afghanistan, spiritual fitness should be the no. 1 priority because when a soldier is first and foremost ‘spiritually fit,’ then all the others will naturally fall in place,” said Loux.

He accurately notes something that escapes some who oppose religious freedom in the military:  Continue reading

Army Encourages Spiritual Fitness in Kuwait

In September the US Army in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, provided an opportunity for Soldiers to encourage their spiritual strength in a Spiritual Fitness Breakfast.

Soldiers deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, attended a Spiritual Fitness Breakfast Saturday at the main dining facility to strengthen Continue reading

Panetta Talks Suicide Prevention, Mental Fitness

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta addressed the DOD and Department of Veterans Affairs Annual Suicide Prevention Conference (in June, though recently re-posted here), describing to the audience his four-point vision for the DoD to become a “game-changing innovator in the field of suicide prevention.”

Panetta’s vision includes vigilance on the part of leaders, improving behavioral healthcare, elevation of “mental fitness,” and increased research on suicide.

What was potentially most notable was what the Secretary didn’t say:  He never mentioned Chaplains, religion, faith, or “spiritual fitness,” despite Continue reading

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Helps Artillerymen

While much of the public focus of the US Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness has been on spiritual fitness, an artillery unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was able to see a different angle to the Army’s effort to “boost performance” of Soldiers and their families:

CSF-PREP’s mission is twofold: helping Soldiers perform with greater ease and less stress, and enabling them to prevail in the face of adversity. The program focuses on making Soldiers and their families stronger Continue reading

Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Criticized as Failure

The US Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program has been criticized by psychologists for failing — at a cost of $125M — to provide any verifiable data that it even works.

The program has long been criticized by many for its reliance on the ‘power of positive thinking.’

Created in 2008 to address alarming trends in soldier behavior, Continue reading

Military Atheists Seek Status as Lay, Faith Group Leaders

Atheists in the US Army continue to criticize the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program and its Global Assessment Tool.  One portion of it is intended to help Soldiers assess their spiritual fitness — to which some atheists have objected, both in letter and principle.  Much like their opposition to anything “bigger” or “higher” than themselves, the atheists’ objection to the principle of spiritual fitness has caused them to see offense even in non-”religious” questions, like whether or not their lives have purpose.

Capt. Ryan Jean wanted to perform well on the Army’s psychological evaluation for soldiers. But he also wanted to answer the questions honestly. So when he was asked whether he believed his life had a lasting purpose, Jean, an atheist, saw no choice but to say no.

Apparently military atheists claim no lasting purpose in their lives.  Honestly.

Unfortunately, the article conflates two separate questions with which Continue reading

US Army General Rhonda Cornum Leads, Embodies Resilience

US Army BrigGen Rhonda Cornum is the director of the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.  She also embodies the values of her own program:

The CSF program focuses on the ability to bounce back from stress or trauma, something she utilized after her experience in the Gulf War…

Cornum flew over the Iraqi desert with her crew in a Black Hawk helicopter Feb. 27, during the fourth day of the U.S. ground assault…

Her crew was responding to the downing of F-16 pilot Capt Bill Andrews, who was shot down over Iraq.  Their helicopter took fire before getting there and crashed.  Five of her crewmates were killed; she was wounded and taken Continue reading

Military Atheists and “Higher” Things…or Not

ABC News recently did a short segment on the US Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, or, more accurately, the spiritual fitness portion of it.

They interviewed Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, a PhD, MD, Desert Storm POW, and current Director of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness in the Army.

They also interviewed US Army Sgt Dustin Chalker, an atheist Soldier whom Michael Weinstein used to sue the US Army.  (The lawsuit was dismissed.)

While military atheists have generally taken issue with the entire concept of “spiritual fitness,” the following portion of the interview was highlighted by Justin Griffith on his atheist “Rock Beyond Belief” website:

Sciutto (ABC News): Why is it that spiritual people make better soldiers?

Cornum: The ethos that we adhere to. Always place the mission first. Never accept defeat. Never leave a fallen comrade.  Those kinds of things require you to have belief in something higher than yourself.

To be accurate, the US Army did not say Continue reading

Atheists Conduct Study on Spirituality in the Military

The Center for Atheist Research is apparently conducting a study on spirituality in the military in response to the US Army’s (criticized) Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.

The study is being used to research “the validity” of the CSF “spiritual fitness” attributes, and it appears to do so in some part by using the same questions that appeared in the military’s asssessment.

The design of the test is interesting.  For example, some atheists complained about the military’s agree/disagree question about “My life has lasting meaning,” and the survey repeats that question.  Later, it asks a variety of related questions which seem to be trying to determine (in a less direct way) if the person really does feel Continue reading

Fort Carson to Open “Resiliency Center”

Continuing the US Army’s focus on Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, Fort Carson is closing one of its gyms to “transform” it into the “Forrest Resiliency Center.”  The center will be

the cornerstone of a Mountain Post Resiliency Campus that includes a super gym, a behavioral health facility and a child development center.

While the news release focuses largely on the “super gym” and health issues associated with deploying, the Resiliency Campus will include “spiritual” Continue reading

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, from General Marshall

Chaplain (Maj) Bill Scritchfield, currently serving in Afghanistan, has an interesting perspective on the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, reaching all the way back to General Marshall:

Scritchfield…believes Gen. George Marshall explained the significance of Soldier spirituality best, “The Soldier’s heart, the Soldier’s spirit, the Soldier’s soul are everything. Unless the Soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his country in the end.”

The context of the article is US Army SPC Turquoise Dawson, who volunteers as an usher at Bagram’s chapel services.  Her conscious decision to usher with a happy heart

illustrate[s] some of the behaviors and strategies that help one adapt and cope with challenges – behaviors and strategies Army officials hope to pass on to other soldiers.

Critics continue to imply an impending lawsuit over some portions of the Army’s CSF program.

US Army Makes Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Exportable

An Army release notes efforts by the US Army training leadership to support the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness campaign through its Battle Command Training Program, an “exportable” training center.

The Army’s Comprehensive Fitness Program is designed to bring together several agencies, key organizational members and initiatives to address the “Five Dimensions of Strength” which sustain the U.S. Army Soldier: Physical, Emotional, Social, Family and Spiritual.

The BCTP is a team that travels to Army bases to bring specialized training to them.  CSF is a whole-person fitness concept designed to alleviate the Army’s prior Continue reading

Millionth Soldier Takes Army GAT

In early February the US Army’s Global Assessment Tool was taken by its millionth Soldier.  Presumably that includes the total force, as the Army has approximately 1.1 million Soldiers total, including Guard and Reserve.

As noted in the Army article,

This effort began in 2008 under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Rhonda L. Cornum…The CSF program is not medical or psychological treatment…

The GAT is a 105-question survey that assesses a Soldier in emotional, social, spiritual and family fitness. The GAT is not a pass or fail test, Continue reading