News: Modern Army Combatives Program makes self-defense a reality for all
Story by Sgt. Jessi McCormick
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – The Modern Army Combatives Program at Joint Base McGuire-Dis-Lakehurst, N.J., is geared towards training soldiers for combat, but military personnel aren’t the only ones benefiting from the realistic scenarios portrayed at the Joint Training and Training Development Center.
Members of the U.S. Army Reserves have dedicated themselves to the training of several civilian agencies as well as military service members.
“We train all branches of services here, including the Coast Guard,” said Sgt. Miles Noonan, a MACP instructor with the 174th Infantry Brigade. “We train civilians as well. In fact, we’re in charge of all the weapons retention training of the Federal Bureau of Investigation field agents from areas ranging from Virginia to upstate New York.”
The program was conceived in 1995 and was officially inducted into the Army training program in 2002. Taught in four levels, Joint Base McGuire-Dis-Lakehurst, N.J. has the capabilities to teach levels one and two. Levels three and four are taught at Fort Benning, Ga. The Joint Training and Training Development Center is equipped with four training areas, each simulating environments that the students may encounter in the future.
“We use facilities like this to best recreate combat environments, so we can learn and make our mistakes here,” said Noonan. “That way, when we go overseas and have to fight against a resistant opponent in all of our gear, we’re able to control the situation using the minimum amount of force necessary and dominate our opponent through superior tactics.”
“We train approximately 1,000 service members a month who are deploying overseas,” he said. “We give them a four-hour block of instruction that gives them a basic familiarization of the program. We give them relevant training that’s easy to learn, retain, and build on.”
Even though the course was developed for military training, individuals like Robert Dell’Aquila have profited as well. He owns Mission MMA in Haddon Township, N.J., and is an instructor of Krav Maga, a self-defense system developed in Israel that involves boxing, muay Thai, jui-jitsu, wrestling, and grappling techniques. In 2010, he traveled to Netanya, Israel, to train with Krav Maga Grand Master Haim Gidon.
Although Dell’Aquila is an instructor with better self-defense skills than most, he admits that he learns something new each time he attends the course.
“It was great having to sweep in and look around, not knowing where your next threat is going to come from,” he said. “That’s something I’m going to bring back to my students. We’re not always going to be in a nice, open, matted area. There’s going to be rocks, obstacles, stairs. This teaches the reality of fighting.”
Dell’Aquila participates in the courses approximately two or three times a month. In addition to perfecting his self-defense skills, he also lends a hand to the instructors and a different perspective to the students for when they may find themselves unarmed.
As with any martial arts training, MACP is only useful when it’s used often.
“It’s always beneficial to go through the courses again because you get a chance to understand the changes that have been adapted and implemented for changing times,” said Sergeant 1st Class Cynthia Price, an instructor with the 2nd Brigade, 309th Training Support Battalion. “It’s a very perishable skill. We have to train. We have to practice.”
Price will be attending the level three course in Fort Benning, Ga. in January. Her intentions are to improve her skill level so that she can better instruct students from any background when she returns to Fort Dix.
“There’s so much that you can get from the program,” she said. “From a female perspective, from someone not wanting to come into contact with an aggressor, or for someone who has never been in a fight or slapped in the face, you want to develop that muscle memory and get to a point that you don’t have to think anymore. You just respond and react.”
Noonan said versatility is designed to be part of the program.
“MACP is for everybody,” said Noonan. “It doesn’t matter what your job is, who you are, how big you are, if you’re male or female. None of that matters.”
Price also added that the number of students from different backgrounds, branches, and jobs makes the training work well. She said the variety adds to the reality of what you would actually face outside of a training situation.
“Everything we do in the program we do for a reason,” said Noonan. “We instill that confidence to close with the enemy in close combat, and we also teach soldiers valuable skills that they can use to build their life support system.”