Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Gentle" Drill Instruction

A Marine Corps reservist from New York said the following in a Letter To The Editor published in the Weekend Journal:
Preparation is the best ingredient for molding our future soldiers. I almost laughed at the thought of Army recruits running 60% less, having enough seconds to eat and not being subject to tough emoitional stress from their drill instructors. The Army is doing a disservice to these recruits. Years ago in Vietnam, I ate one C-ration per day, hiked 10 to 20 miles daily with a 70-pound pack, slept in the mud with mosquitoes and experienced the fright of someone trying to do bodily harm to me. I survived physically and emotionally because I was trained by "mean" Marine Corps drill instructors. Let's properly prepare all recruits and not worry about recruiting goals.
There is a serious problem with this modern society in which the powers-that-be have decided it better to play it safe with recruits than to push the boundaries and possibly hurt their feelings. With today's standards of drill instruction, WWII infantrymen and paratroopers would never have been able to deal with the pressure. Imagine what today's preparations would have done for the 101st Airborne as they were scattered all over France, missing drop zones by many miles in some instances. The ability to run long distances and still remain alert to any threat is what gave these brave paratroopers a slight advantage in their horribly disadvatageous positions.

Today there are activist groups representing every possible cross-section of America ready to sue at the first cry of discrimination. Whether it is calling a recruit "Private Pyle" as R. Lee Ermey's character did in Full Metal Jacket, or using any of a number of derogatory terms to train their recruits to deal with anger and frustration, drill instructors are becoming increasingly worried that their actions will be scrutinized by the armchair generals that make the ultimate decisions in Washington.

The aforementioned reservist certainly hit the nail on the head when he summed up his experiences with the worst conditions to help train him for the fighting that he was sure to encounter in the coming months. Then we have the case of people like my father who were in no way ready to submit to the crap being dealt by drill instructors in the Vietnam-era. He simply wanted to serve his one year and get back to America, so his impatience took the form of contempt for authority. Were it not for the harsh treatment during training, it would've been much more difficult for him to take orders on the battlefield with all the carnage and horror that surrounded him.

The truth is that all the yelling and cursing and belittling of recruits is ultimately done to prepare recruits for conditions on the front lines. If a recruit goes through basic training without being really afraid, what are they going to do when they are part of a unit being ambushed by enemies armed with machine guns and RPGs? The only way to really prepare someone for that is to subject them to the worst possible conditions before they even leave America. Once they know just what to expect, they can begin to mentally prepare themselves.

If it were not for drill instructors and boot camp, many more young men and women would be returning in body bags. Thank God the pacifists aren't in charge of this country ...

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