The U.S. Army has updated its physical fitness training manual for the first time in eight years with a new emphasis on mental health and “spiritual readiness,” to keep soldiers in peek condition, The New York Times reports.
“The goal of the Holistic Health and Fitness System is to build physical lethality and mental toughness to win quickly and return home healthy,” reads the introduction to the FM 7-22 Holistic Health and Fitness manual, the Army’s new physical fitness training field manual.
The new manual includes chapters on “spiritual readiness,” establishing objectives, visualizing success, and even recommends napping.
“Soldiers can use short, infrequent naps to restore wakefulness and promote performance,” the manual states. “When routinely available sleep time is difficult to predict, soldiers might take the longest nap possible as frequently as time is available.”
Ret. Lt. Gen. David Barno, who spent about 30 years in the Army and led combined forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, noted that “the Army has always had an internal dynamic that real men don’t need sleep and can just push on, and it’s incredibly stupid. Combat is a thinking man’s business and your brain doesn’t function without sleep.”
Iraq War veteran Phillip Carter, now an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University, added that “the Army is on to something here. The old manual looked like something out of a gym class from the 1960s. There was lots of jumping jacks and wind sprints. It wasn’t keeping pace about what we knew about combat. The truth is, we know sleep is critical to better decision-making.”
He also noted that “the government is spending billions of dollars a year to compensate troops for breaking them in service,” in the form of disability payments to soldiers who suffered injuries during their service. “If it’s just a little bit better, it could be a huge difference.”
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