General Mart de Kruif, the retiring boss of the Dutch Army, has lobbed a few missiles at his old colleagues as he retreats into retirement, saying that the shockingly low physical fitness of modern-day recruits has forced the army to make its training programs radically easier. Incredibly, even with those lower standards and expectations, the drop-out rate during training is still 70%, compared to just 6% in 1991.
To put this into context, this means that the average Dutch soldier would be unable to out-fight an ISIS fighter but would be able to beat them in a pie-eating contest. Especially if they were pork pies.
As you probably guessed, the general blames this collapse in personal fitness on computers, saying “… youngsters today are less fit and strong than a few decades ago … when you don’t play outside and climb trees but sit behind a computer, it becomes more difficult to climb up a rope.”
He certainly has a point. My own job involves sitting behind a computer all day and I can barely get out of my chair and walk to the fridge, never mind climbing up ropes. If I had a rope, and could manage to climb up onto a chair, I’d probably hang myself, but it would need to be a pretty strong rope. I’d probably just make some tea instead.
The American Army has addressed a similar problem with the calibre of the current generation of recruits by pretty much entirely replacing soldiers with drones. Some are controlled by “pilots” who remotely control the drones from offices in Nevada. It turns out that it feels very similar to playing Xbox, but the graphics are less realistic. The Army has a plentiful supply of recruits whose only life experience has been playing video games, but the longer term plan is to replace them all with autonomous, self-flying drones who use cutting-edge artificial intelligence to bomb the wrong wedding parties.
Obviously, the Dutch Army has a vital role in protecting the Dutch people from enemies outside the country and those who have already emigrated in, so, it is important that we have a plentiful supply of thuggish young men, able and eager to climb up ropes and beat the living crap out of whoever they find up there.
Luckily, it appears that salvation my be coming in the form of major changes in computing. The current consensus among technology analysts is that the next major shift, following on from the previous shifts from mainframes to desktops to laptops to smartphones, will be to virtual reality. From a young age, Dutch citizens will find themselves moving around with electronic buckets over their heads. Moving files will require serious aerobic stamina, deleting a folder will require high-level fighting skills. Online porn will require actual sex.
So, in a decade or so, the Dutch Army will get past its current low ebb and have a hale new generation of physically fit borderline psychopaths.