05 August 2007

Namby-Pamby Basic

Still here, folks, ranting when I can.

Was sent an NPR link a couple days ago re: Army Basic Training at Fort Jackson, SC. I was taken aback at how "mellow" the Drill Sergeants were, allowing privates to do things I never would have dreamed of, such as refuse a direct order to pick up headgear. (The private cited in that case was discharged). My recollection is that if I would have done the same thing, I would have had an Article 15, made to repeat Basic and had a black mark on my record for the remainder of my enlistment.

Hey, I know the Army's hard up for folks to serve in a war zone. Note to Pentagon: Let's cut the touchy-feely shit and get these guys and gals up to speed for the war zones, and if they don't want to do what THEY SIGNED UP FOR, make them face real, lasting consequences.

War zones are stressful, kids! Let's make sure our new soldiers can handle it. Kid-gloving isn't doing anyone any good.

I went through Jackson back in 1994, during the drawdown/early Clinton years, and - while it certainly was challenging - it just didn't leave me feeling like a warrior. No, I felt like an Army 'employee' more than anything else. (I look back and refer to Basic as "Bill Clinton Summer Camp")

Just after I left Jackson, co-ed Basic was instituted there. I have been, and remain, dead-set against this. It's certainly nothing against women in the military - my mother was an Army nurse in Vietnam - but Basic is the one time where Soldiers (sailors, airmen, Marines, etc.) MUST be focused on training and nothing else. (The same argument can be applied to a war zone, for sure).

At any rate, the upshot of the gender integration of Army Basic at places like Jackson was that by the end of 1995, discipline and physical fitness problems were becoming apparent with young privates reporting to permanent-duty stations (I was at Bragg with a year under my belt during that time).

Sure, there are bad apples everywhere, but in my observations, the problems definitely increased, especially, I believe, in support units such as the one I was in.

A brief rant, but much-needed. I'll be back when I can, as time permits.