Tough army training turns boys into men

Updated: 2014-01-13 01:12

By Wang Zhenghua in Hangzhou (China Daily)

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Tough army training turns boys into men

Troops crawl under barbed wire during a drill in May. Hard training is behind Sixth Company’s honors and achievements. Provided to China Daily

Company anecdotes

It's not always easy to tame new recruits, who were mostly born in the 1990s and often arrive with a rebellious and arrogant attitude toward everything, or to put them through the tough training to achieve good results in military competitions.

To train these spoiled sons, the company fosters their sense of honor by requiring them to learn about its stellar history.

"Throughout its 74 years, our company has been involved in 161 battles, big and small. That honorable history is our trump card," said Huan.

Each new recruit is asked to remember anecdotes about founders of the company and, after several months, to serve as a guide at its honor hall where about 200 relics and 300 photographs of the company are displayed.

"It's never an easy task to remember every word in a book about the company's history that has hundreds of thousands of words. I often heard complaints such as, ‘If someone is able to recite all this material, he or she would qualify for a renowned university for their talent, rather than being recruited for the army,'" Huan said.

With that sense of honor in mind, members of the company show their edge in exercises and competitions — over the past 10 years, the company has fielded 62 champions in competitions held by a division or higher-level military unit.

Other company requirements include respecting each soldier's talent and teamwork-building.

Huan said that Wang, the son of a well-off family, found it hard to get used to life in the army when he first joined in December 2012.

As Wang, 19, put it, before he joined the army he had a lifestyle of surfing the Internet during the daytime and seeking fun in bars at night.

Many other recruits had been pampered by their families before joining the army. One mother, in an effort to get her son to behave better, even resorted to lying to him that she had cancer.

Wang showed a great talent for shooting while long-distance running was his weak spot.

"I told the company leaders that I'd rather sleep in a pigsty than run five kilometers," Wang said.

To help him improve, Wang took part in special sharpshooter training, and a squad leader was asked to teach him running skills, such as how to regulate his breathing.

He used to lag so far behind during team running events that he had to be dragged with a rope by three people to keep up. But he is no longer afraid of running.

He also made remarkable progress in the shooting program.

Adapting to change

Another challenge that confronts the company known for its tough training is the impact of technology on the military. How does a team with such an honored history adapt to a revolution in military affairs that may change combat processes in the future?

The answer to that, commanders said, is the company's strong capacity to adapt to change and always serve as the first to test new technology - as shown in a major upgrading of weapons.

In March 2008, the army began to use a new amphibious armored vehicle, a major step toward the combination of mechanical and information technology.

But soldiers found it hard to train with the new equipment, and had to come up with new exercise programs to integrate the vehicle in their training.

The company volunteered to be the first to test the new vehicle, Huan said, adding that 30 technicians were sent to the manufacturers to familiarize themselves with the features and operation of the vehicle.

Personnel were organized to draft 178 training topics and 100,000-word teaching materials that were later copied by and applied to the entire division.

"The sixth company is a unit standing the test of history, it will lead again in the new times," Huan said.

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