US army told to shape up â by duelling with pugil sticks guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 17 March 2010 19.53 GMT US soldiers in Afghanistan, where they will soon be joined by 30,000 additional troops Military chiefs say the US army's 30-year-old training regime is becoming obsolete. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images The asymmetric reality of 21st-century warfare has taught the US military much over the last decade. It has taught them that their enemies are relentless, technologically advanced and often invisible â and that hardware and superior numbers are no longer the guarantees they once were. Unfortunately, it has also taught them that some of their recruits are too fat and not much good in a fight, and that a lot of their 30-year-old physical training regime is in danger of becoming obsolete. However, the top brass has listened to Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans and is now switching the fitness focus from five-mile runs and bayonet drills to zigzag sprints and agility exercises. Battlefield sergeants believe recruits should also learn how to dodge across alleys and pull a comrade from a burning vehicle. The new drills are also designed to educate those whose only experience of combat has been gleaned from playing computer games. "Most of these soldiers have never been in a fistfight or any kind of a physical confrontation," said trainer Captain Scott Sewell at the army's fitness school in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. "They are stunned when they get smacked in the face. We are trying to get them to act, to think like warriors." To that end, Sewell and his colleagues spend hours urging trainees to duel with pugil sticks until one is knocked over.