A hard lesson to learn

Story and Photos by Sgt. John D. Ortiz
4th SB Public Affairs Office

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Bruises, bandaged arms, and ice packs galore; the scene repeats itself over and over in the faces, arms, and legs of Soldiers standing by to go head-to-head with instructors to clinch their level one combatives certification.
Command Sgt. Maj. Erik R.R. Frey, 4th Sustainment Brigade Command senior noncommissioned officer, stated the purpose of the Modern Army Combatives Program is to train Soldiers in combative skills and develop a train-the-trainer program.

As part of the Chief of Staff of the Army’s initiative to have all Soldiers trained in Level One Combatives, the senior enlisted advisor has taken the lead role in training Wrangler Soldiers.

“The purpose of combatives training is to instill confidence and fighting skill that can only be gained through engagement with an opponent in a combative situation,” said Frey.

Obtaining the right equipment to ensure safety along with finding a home for the program were paramount to the success of the training, stated Sgt. 1st Class Oran J. Spradley, primary combatives instructor for the brigade.

“Command Sergeant Major Frey and I really wanted to make the program available to 4th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers,” said Spradley. “We did what we had to do to get it up-and-running.”

Spradley stated hand-to-hand combat is the main focus of the program, but with additional equipment from pugil equipment to groin protectors, the combatives tent is stocked with equipment needed to conduct different types of combatives while ensuring Soldiers have the best protection money can buy.

Realistic training is a core concept of the program with a serious training atmosphere and grueling physical demands that often leave Soldiers drenched in sweat, sore, and covered in bumps and bruises.

“Even after leaving the tent, Soldiers come back the next night with big smiles on their faces,” he said. “I do not know too many places where you get you butt kicked all night, and return each night happy to be there.”

“Everyone thinks a combatives course is all about getting beat-up for a week, but that's not the truth,” said Spradley, adding the program is designed to produce confident instructors who will take these basic techniques back to their units, and train their Soldiers.

“Hand-to-hand combat training is a fundamental building block for preparing our Soldiers for current and future operations,” said Frey. “Wrangler Combative training will provide this critical capability.”

Spc Charles Thomas
Spc. Charles Thomas, a supply specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company puts an ice pack on his elbow joint after completing the test out phase to become certified in combatives.

Staff Sgt. Carla Williams and Sgt. Alisha Ahrens
Staff Sgt. Carla Williams, a brigade property book NCO, punches Sgt. Alisha Ahrens, as Command Sgt. Maj. Erik R.R. Frey looks on as a referee. The combatives program was instituted by Command Sgt. Maj. Frey to provide Wranglers the ability to learn hand-to-hand combat.


Sgt. 1st Class Oran J Spradley and Sgt. Linwood Johnson
Sgt. 1st Class Oran J. Spradley, the 4th Sustainment Brigade primary Level 1 Combatives instructor ‘rocks’ Sgt. Linwood Johnson as he tries to go inside to get one of three clinches during the test-out phase of the combatives course.

Maj. Ester M Morales
Maj. Ester M. Morales, in charge of the General Supply Office for the brigade bites down on a mouth guard before the start of the fourth of testing to become Level 1 certified.