There are a lot of weaknesses in the Modern Army Combatives Program, and I think a lot of soldiers and leaders today recognize that. I hear talk now and then of how the Army wants to scrap the whole program, which I think would be a mistake. However, the MAC system certainly needs to be fixed and upgraded.
It has been a goal of mine for several years now to come up with a supplemental training and progression that implements things like wristlocks, armbars, and standing takedowns, as well as simple strikes and kicks that MACP does not include in the level one material. Battlefield Combatives will also include techniques and strategies designed to kill the opponent outright, or disable the enemy long enough for the soldier to bring the primary weapon back into play. These techniques should be easily taught, easily mastered, and able to be performed in full body armor, ballistic helmet, and with a rifle.
In my experience, having been level one certified, the level one material includes the ground positions of guard, inside the guard, side mount/side control, mount, and rear mount. There is one sacrificial takedown, one defense against punches, and escaping the guard. There are also a couple of chokes, and the straight arm bar from the mount.
I believe that there is too much emphasis on submissions in the level one material, and not enough emphasis on ending the fight as quickly as possible. In Matt Larsen's own words, "The person who wins the hand to hand fight will be the person who's buddy shows up first with a gun." Essentially what this is telling soldiers is "Hang on tight and wait for help to arrive." As an infantry soldier myself, I disagree very much with this as a principle for any combatives system, let alone one that is supposedly intended to be used on the battlefield.
In addition, I have yet to see this material being taught with at least body armor on, let alone body armor and ballistic helmet, or body armor, ballistic helmet, and weapon. While training solely in uniform is good for the introductory phase of training, once the soldiers know the material, the panoply of war must be introduced in order for the soldiers to understand the complexities of fighting with gear.
Instead of taking the fight to the ground at every opportunity, a soldier should only go to the ground as a last resort. Soldiers on the battlefield must be armed with techniques that allow them to demolish their opponent and remain standing victoriously over them, rather than wrestling them to the ground and being tied up in what becomes a wrestling match.
The emphasis on ground fighting robs a soldier of their mobility, which is a key aspect of combat. If the enemy's partner shows up to the fight while the soldier is still attempting the submission as taught, the soldier at best may end up getting beaten badly before subduing both enemies, and at worst may be subdued himself and taken prisoner.
As well as sacrificing mobility, situational awareness also tends to vanish when an individual is engaged on the ground in a wrestling match. In combat, this means that the soldier may not even realize when they are outnumbered and must beat a hasty retreat or break contact, another situation that can lead to a severe beating or being captured.
Lastly, the modern United States soldier on the battlefield is bigger and stronger than his opponent, in addition to wearing body armor that protects vital targets from receiving devastating strikes. This protection will be taken into account while I design the curriculum for Battlefield Combatives. The soldier must still protect the face and keep the hands up while closing with the enemy, but the near invulnerability of body and head targets means that the soldier has a lot more margin for error when engaging an enemy and getting in a hand-to-hand fight.
I firmly believe that by including strikes, kicks, joint locks, as well as sweeps and throws, the current combatives program can be made more complete, and more effective for the battlefield. All of this can be done within the current paradigm of combatives training, and soldiers can achieve great proficiency in one or two techniques with only two hours of practice, making them better prepared than they otherwise would have been under a system based solely on submission wrestling.