21 February 2006

The 'Truly' Modern Pentathlon

With the Winter Olympics winding down, and the biathletes making news, my thoughts turn to that event's summer cousin, the modern pentathlon.

When the Modern Pentathlon was conceived it was expressly meant as a way to show off the diverse tool set expected of an officer. In 1912 it made sense for those to include show-jumping, shooting, fencing, swimming, and cross-country running (I'm in debt to this site which has much, much information that I'm mangling here a bit to suit my own purposes).

Well I'd like to suggest it's about time for a 'Future' Pentathlon, one that reflects five skill sets needed for the current and future officer.

First off, I'd make the events squad based, each team would be comprised of 5 people (either sex, up to each team the mix, with the requirement of at least one person being female). Each person would have to compete in at least 3 events. Success in the current battlefield relies more on the coordination of squads of people and not the heroics of any individual. A competition should be designed to reflect that.

Another difference would be that every event would happen with other teams providing 'hostile' fire. Most event would have paintball elements to the event where 2 competing teams would be attacking the squad attempting each event. This would reflect the numerical superiority defenders usually enjoy, and would allow for teams to specialize in defensive techniques as teams could steal points by defending especially well. (The two defending teams wouldn't be allowed direct radio communications however, just to add some balance).

In the current modern pentathlon you can break down the events into aided mobility (equestrian), aquatic (swimming), close combat (fencing), distance combat (shooting) and evasion/escape (cross-country running). I'd keep the general categories the same, but amp them up and create tests that better reflect the shape of the modern battlefield.

For the mobility event, horses have long since been replaced by machines, a driving under hostile fire (from paintball, and paint-land mines) event would simulate the kind of challenges currently faced by modern troops and would be exciting to watch. The courses could be urban, desert or mixed rural/agricultural and the defending teams would be given the opportunity to plant one mine each and set up three ambush points. This would make a great televised event, maybe not so great for the live audience, though.

For the aquatic event I'd emphasize the squad nature and have three 'healthy' swimmers and one 'injured' swimmer over a 2000 meter riverine course (downriver to make it feasible) with at least 5 bridges and blinds any two of which could have ambushes set up by two of the other squads. The injured swimmer would be conscious so could float on their own, but wouldn't be allowed to stroke or kick. The event would be done clothed (as if a river patrol was overtuned and had to swim to a protected checkpoint).

For the close combat event, it would be an indoor urban hostage extraction scenario. Two opposing teams would represent hostage takers, and the attacking team would have to find, secure and recover the hostage in a multi story structure. To make it feasible for the attacking team to succeed, the defenders wouldn't be allowed to have more than two people in any one room, and the hostage would be unguarded in a room with four entry points, no more than three could be defended.

For the ranged combat event, squad based paintball capture the flag style. Big field, two teams versus the one attacker, with the right camera coverage could be great to watch.

The escape/evasion event is last and would still be a cross-country run, but the difference being that the squad would have to rescue an 'injured' teammate. The event would again simulate having one injured squad member with the others healthy. In this all five would compete at the same time, but the 'injured' player would remain the same throughout the event. They'd get a stretcher to make carrying easier, with uncoordinated hostile fire over a 10 kilometer course with elevation changes mixing open and spaces with good cover usable for both ambushes and cover when facing hostile fire.

Rather than all the events happening on the same day like the original modern pentathlon the events would happen on consecutive days, but each team would compete three times each day (once as competitor, twice as defender).

I think this would be entertaining, more so than the current biathlon or pentathlon, it could happen by the 2012 London Olympics, if not, maybe a gameshow, (I want at least a producer's credit though, if not the hosting gig).

1 comment:

Pastor_Jeff said...

That is so totally awesome!

Most of the Olympics I find boring, but I would definitely watch that!

'evilgl' - evil gel? evil gal?