Soldier fitness and readiness take center stage in Daegu

by Park, Yesin, USAG Daegu Public Affairs (Intern)
U.S. Army

USAG DAEGU -- Being physically fit is as important to a Soldier's life and well being, as the proper maintenance and care of his assigned weapon. Like that weapon, the more that a Soldier does to maintain his physical fitness and readiness, the better he is likely to perform. Few would argue the strength of this statement, and many like CSM Ray Thornton, CSM, USAG Daegu know all too well how important fitness is to successfully accomplishing the unit or Army mission.

Seeking to start the New Year off on a healthy note, in a recent interview CSM Thornton spoke to the issue of physical fitness and readiness. He said, "Soldiers have to always be ready to step up and move out in support of whatever the Army mission might be. We have to be mentally and physically tough while we are performing our military duties. Good fitness through a regular work-out is so important to Soldiers. A good work-out not only helps in eliminating stress, but is vital in the development of the body. Further, that's why we attach profound importance on actual training for about one hour in the morning. The morning physical training or PT plays such a vital role in a Soldier's daily routine."

Like any great leader, leading by example can make all the difference in how well a team, a unit or even an organization is able to accomplish its goals. The holidays now behind us, the CSM sees today as an ideal time to return to a schedule that ensures the spotlight remains on physical training and Soldier readiness. He knows that neither is done by resting on one's laurels. In other words, both take hard work, and a strong commitment.

"I participate in PT and PRT in the morning with Soldiers. Simply put, to get the ideal body shape, one should work out using as much power as he can. I have been doing it for 27 years and I do so by applying a lot of different exercise techniques during a physical fitness session. One thing that I do is the cardio-vascular workout. It is the exercise that gets the whole body moving. It's an aerobic and muscular exercise. For example, while in the gym, we lift dumbbells while riding the bicycle. In my case, I can train one muscle group in the morning and others in the evening. It really works for me," said the Area IV CSM.
While the CSM may be completely committed to fitness, he realizes that not all soldiers are alike. For some, meeting the Army's physical fitness requirements is both a challenge, and a struggle. CSM Thornton pointed out that there are some Soldiers who have physical limitations that exist, and may be the result of a number of different medical or physical issues. Even so, the individual is still responsible for meeting the standard the Army has established for physical fitness, and it's not something any Soldier should take lightly.

The CSM explained however, that the U.S Army has programs for those Soldiers who might find themselves struggling during a workout. Adherence to Army FM 21-20, which provides guidelines for creating or developing programs that will improve and or maintain physical fitness levels, is crucial to meeting the Army's fitness requirements, and the unit's training goals. He addressed the matter of a medical profile which provides the individual recovery time if the medical official has declared that an injury or medical issue makes such a time necessary. "The PT profile is for Soldiers who incur some type of physical injury via an accident or something of that nature. The profile speaks to the extent to which a Soldier can work out or the type of duty he is able to perform during whatever the designated period," explained the CSM.

Addressing another topic related to physical fitness and Soldier readiness CSM Thornton touched on the issue of overweight personnel. He said, "Soldiers who fall in this category may have difficulty performing Army tasks because of their weight. In many instances they need guidance on how to manage their weight, and that's what the Army's overweight program does."

Taking the overweight issue a step further, the CSM mentioned one thing in particular that is a major culprit behind the drinks. He stated, "We frequently see Soldiers downing these energy drinks. Unfortunately, there are some Soldiers who tend to think energy drinks really play a role in keeping them energized, fit, and able to build muscles. I totally, totally, totally disagree with their line of thinking. These drinks consist of a whole lot of sugar. So much sugar. It is false to think that they are healthy in any way."

Before closing the interview, CSM Thornton reiterated the importance of every Soldier keeping himself fit, and ready at any time to step up in support of whatever the assigned unit or Army mission. Touching on the importance of those principles key to training the force, he said that every Soldier must be able to successfully meet work requirements and the physical strength capacity his duties may require.

"In the end, however, it's up to the individual to reach out and embrace the training and the guidance we provide so that he can meet the demands of the Army. Maintaining and participating in a healthy, and appropriate fitness program is one way to achieve this," commented CSM Thornton.

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