CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN – --
U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Okinawa were given a unique chance to earn their tan belts by participating in a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program course, instructed by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Carmen Thornton.
“The purpose of this MCMAP course was to bring services together,” said Thornton, a MCMAP instructor and shop chief of G-6, communications, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific – Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan. “I wanted to give the soldiers an experience and show them what we do in the Marine Corps. MCMAP is different than what the Army does in their combative training and I was excited that I could show them the differences hands-on.”
MCMAP consists of a weapon-based curriculum that integrates equipment, physical challenges and tactics found on the modern battlefield. For Marines, MCMAP is a fundamental part of the Marine Corps, as all recruits have to be a tan belt to graduate boot camp. For other branches it is a new experience that is different from what they are normally offered.
“This was something the Army doesn’t have and I wanted to take advantage of it,” said U.S. Army Specialist Jonathon Retzloff, a patriot fire control enhanced maintainer with the 1-1 Air Defense Artillery Regiment. “This allows me to get more training and more experience under my belt. It is physically demanding. It pushes you to your limit. We did learn a lot though and it is useful for the future.”
The U.S. Army offers their soldiers training called the Modern Army Combatives Program or MAC. It is a hand-to-hand combat training and techniques course that all soldiers have to go through. What makes MCMAP different from the Army combatives course is that MCMAP teaches the three disciplines alongside the techniques. The mental, physical and character disciplines help develop a well-rounded warrior.
“The Army has good programs that everyone can learn from, but MCMAP is a twist on what we learn,” said U.S. Army Specialist Brendan Smith, a patriot fire control enhanced maintainer with the 1-1 ADA Regiment. “I feel like this should be a suggested course for the Army to take because of that. Everyone can learn something doing MCMAP. It is a positive motivation.”
MCMAP is a tool that can be used to develop a warrior but to also bring them together. MCMAP reinforces teamwork and camaraderie.
“The course itself had only soldiers, but I had other Marines and a Navy corpsman come out to help,” said Thornton. “They were all sparring together and pushing each other. We got to show the Army side what Marine camaraderie is like. We got to bring them in and show them that they are our brothers. These opportunities allow us to build mutual understanding between services.”
Around 20 soldiers took advantage of the offered course. They learned the tan belt techniques and material. When Thornton conducted assessments on the first batch of soldiers, all of them passed.
“They absorbed all the material I taught them and they took it seriously” said Thornton. “They all passed and I am so proud of them. I will be in touch with their unit and command so if they would like to have more soldiers go to tan belt or beyond I will be open to continue teaching them.