|The new SOF: Special Operations Fitness|
By Sgt. Daniel Carter
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Jan. 15, 2012) - The performance training level of all Special Operations Forces Soldiers is critically important to the completion and execution of SOF missions.
This is the mission of the Tactical Human Optimization, Rapid Rehabilitation & Reconditioning (THOR3) team assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS).
All Special Forces groups, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), and the 75th Ranger Regiment have their own Human Performance programs that specialize in the specific needs of their units.
The USAJFKSWCS THOR3 team in addition to providing training and programming are also responsible for the human performance education and training mission for all of USASOC. They lay the groundwork for SOF Soldiers to learn why they are in need of such specialized professionals and how to utilize them effectively.
The USAJFKSWCS THOR3 team consists of strength and conditioning coaches, physical therapists, and a performance dietitian who work daily with Soldiers from all aspects of the command.
The THOR3 team assures all Soldiers assigned, from the students to the General Officers, reach the proper level of human performance for the mission at hand. The THOR3 team's goals vary from Soldier to Soldier. Some Soldiers are recovering from an injury sustained while deployed, while others are training to prepare for an upcoming mission or deployment.
While the focus of the THOR3 program is to improve current operational longevity and reduce the potential for injury, the added value to the SOF operator is the improvement in their overall quality of life lasting long after retirement.
The THOR3 team at USAJFKSWCS develops customized, periodized and personalized strength and conditioning, rehabilitation and performance nutrition programs for students and Special Operations Soldiers in order to optimize their human performance goals.
When an operator begins working with the THOR3 Team, the first step that they go through is the Performance Enhancement Screen. This screening includes tests designed to assess movement and performance as well as the Soldier's potential for injury.
The results provide the THOR3 team with a physical profile for each operator or student. From there, the team will work with operators and students in groups or individually to enhance their physical capabilities.
The Performance Enhancement Screen begins with a Functional Movement Screen, which is comprised of 7 tests measuring quality of movement. Scoring on this test indicates the potential risk for injury.
The second step in the PES is to assess performance. This is done through a series of 4 tests measuring mobility, agility, strength and endurance. Lastly, the performance dietitian also completes a body composition test.
After completing the Performance Enhancement Screen, the operator or student is then placed in either the THOR3 Rehabilitation Program or the THOR3 Human Performance Program. The THOR3 team then facilitates rapid return to unrestricted duty or maximizes the physical potential for each operator or student.
In addition, proper nutrition is required to optimize rehabilitation and performance, according to Christi M. Logan, USAJFKSWCS THOR3 Performance dietitian. This is an often overlooked, yet vital aspect of human performance, which is emphasized by the THOR3 team. Briefings are conducted by Logan in order to inform all students of the Civil Affairs, Military Information Support Operations, and Special Forces pipelines within USAJFKSWCS to include advanced skills training sites.
The performance nutrition briefings inform operators and students of the proper fuel that is essential to the success of the SOF Soldier. These briefings set the nutritional foundation for the remainder of the SOF Soldiers' career.
"SOF personnel have unique physical requirements with time-sensitive, mission specific physical demands. I provide the operators and students with the education needed to make informed decisions when it comes to their daily food choices that will improve their performance today, next week or next year," said Logan.
During her briefs, Logan helps them understand that in different settings their nutritional needs change. SOF personnel do not have the benefit of an “off-season” or a down day and their schedules are ambiguous and ever-changing.
Additionally, their bodies are taxed daily by heavy training and various physical and mental stressors, as well as by limited access to quality food when in austere environments.
Therefore, ensuring adequate calorie and nutrient intake on a day to day basis aids in improving performance. As with physical training and tactical skills that are performed daily, solid nutrition intake is just as vital to support their time-sensitive and mission specific demands.
Due to the ever changing mission of the Special Operations Soldier, THOR3 provides the program that allows SOF Soldiers to meet their mission requirements physically, mentally and nutritionally.The USAJFKSWCS THOR3 team aids the Soldiers assigned to the Special Warfare Center and School by providing them the tools necessary to meet the physical demands of the Special Operations community. With these tools, not only can SOF Soldiers meet the needs of the mission but they will extend the longevity of their operational capabilities.