Story and Photos By Rob Schuette, The Real
Soldiers who don't meet the Army's height and weight
requirements or can't pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) are
being helped through a pilot program held at Fort McCoy called
Operation Fit Warrior.
Soldiers participating in an
Operation Fit Warrior class conduct physical training in a
Sgt. 1st Class Richard Kolk said the 12-day pilot program is
being offered in several rotations throughout June to Army Reserve
Soldiers in the seven-state region of the 88th Regional Support
Command. Kolk is the noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of Operation
"We put the program together to help Soldiers with their
life skills," Kolk said. "The Soldiers get daily physical
training and nutrition counseling."
Capt. Paul Hoiland, the Operation Fit Warrior
officer-in-charge, said it's important Soldiers be able to pass the
APFT and meet height and weight standards because these are required
to be eligible for noncommissioned officer education system (NCOES)
training. If troop unit Soldiers can't meet the requirements to attend
NCOES training, they may be denied promotions and find their careers
are affected, Hoiland said.
Because personal preferences in food and exercise vary from
Soldier to Soldier, Kolk said the Operation Fit Warrior course offers
individual nutrition counseling and a variety of fitness options.
Participants learn how to interpret their cholesterol levels, read
food labels, and understand good nutrition. Kolk said the program has
managed to secure the services of a dietitian for each of the two-week
Capt. Beth Deschamps, a dietitian
from Fort Riley, Kan., talks about nutrition during Operation
Fit Warrior training.
"They say it takes about 21 days to establish new eating
habits, and we have them for about 12 days," Kolk said. "We
start them off by getting rid of the junk food and get them started
with good nutrition."
Students get information to take back to their home units, Kolk
said. The program follows up via e-mail to see how the students are
doing. The physical training portion of the program is broken into two
parts. Kolk said the components of the APFT are taught during a
"We can shave about one minute off their one-mile time and
add about four to six push ups and sit ups during this class," he
said. "We also can give them tips about how to take the tests
The afternoon physical fitness training session focuses on
basic combative training. Members of Regional Training Center-North
(RTC-North) assist in presenting the class.
Sgt. Todd Raymond of RTC-North said that Kolk had helped the
unit acquire equipment needed for its training so they decided to help
instruct the Soldiers in combatives training.
"We train them on the certified level one," Raymond
said. "It teaches them how to fight in combat, and also is a
The great thing about combatives is that it doesn't necessarily
depend on someone's size or gender to be successful, Raymond said.
Everyone can do it.
Spc. Jeff Mueller of the 377th Military Police Company of
Cincinnati, Ohio, said he took the course to help build up his
"I had this training (early in my career as an Army
Reserve Soldier), but only occasionally since then and nothing as
in-depth as this was," Mueller said.
For more information about the course, Army Reserve Soldiers
can contact Kolk at (612) 919-6490 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.