Thursday, February 16, 2006

This We'll Defend

I see where the Army is considering lowering the standards for basic training. They are eroding the authority of the Drill Sergeant. That is horseshit, plain and simple.

The Drill Sergeant is the heart and soul of Basic Combat Training. The Drill Sergeant is the manufacturer of soldiers. The Drill Sergeant is the final arbiter of which recruit makes the grade and which recruit doesn't.

I still remember the names of my Drill Sergeants. Drill Sergeant Anderson and Drill Sergeant Grice took me through basic training. They kicked my butt when I needed it and they carried my ass when I needed it. They looked after me, they cajoled and threatened and pushed me farther than I thought I could go.

Years later, when I commanded my own company, Senior Drill Sergeant Pugh was my strong right hand for the first few months of command. He went on to greater posts of authority and responsibility and was replaced by Senior Drill Sergeant Goudeau, who showed me that there is more than one way to do a job correctly. I am forever indebted to those four men, who made me a soldier.

The Army should think carefully about this little scheme. We can't stand to graduate less than the very best. Our line commanders deserve the best soldiers we can field for them.


Anonymous said...

One of my buddies graduated from officer school for the 256 National Guard last February, and then was shipped to Iraq to join his unit. However, I remember his training being tough from an intellectual standpoint with many class sessions on various forms of strategy and mapping. I think that is exactly what our officers need to continue going through. They are supposed to be the smartest guys of the military, the ones who can defeat the enemy sector without getting his guys in his unit killed.

Anonymous said...

My daughter has been at Fort Leonard Wood, MO in Basic Training since November. Well, except for the 2 weeks she got off for "Christmas Exodus", when she got to come home. That was a surprise. While she was here, she complained that they weren't hard enough on her; didn't push her to do more; didn't do enough PT.

She was scheduled to graduate last week, but didn't. Why not? Because she can't do 47 sit-ups in 2 minutes (she did 41). So they held her over for a week, to allow her to re-take the PT test. I haven't heard from her so I don't know yet how she did on the re-test.

While at Basic, she was able to call me at least once a week. I didn't expect that. And she told me last week, while I was there for her not-graduation (we were already on our way before she found out she wasn't graduating, and they did give her a 12-hour pass), that the next group after hers was allowed to keep their cell phones! Is it really a good idea for recruits to be able to call Mommy and Daddy whenever the DI hurts their feelings? I don't think so!

The "kinder, gentler Army" is a bad idea. And I have that on good authority - a brand new recruit who thinks that Basic Training is too easy.


Anonymous said...

I vividly recall life in the navy in the late 70s when sometimes up to 30% of a unit might be positive on a drug uranalysis sweep. Lowering standards and screening then did not work, just doubled our work dealing with those who could not even meet those standards. The army is having problems meeting recruiting goals I understand which this may be an indication of. You are absolutely right, lowering standards is more of a burden then the numbers gained will benefit it.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Seems a lot of us *old timers* who remember basic as being a crucible, and not a crib, are hard put to understand why the military powers that be are standing by and allowing this to go on. This country will be the worse for unnesessary loss of lives (of our servicemen and women) and perhaps worse if the perception becomes that we are a beatable force... a paper tiger.

And thanks for the link back btw *grin*.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think all we did is go from one extreme to another. Almost everyone has heard of the DI stories where the kid goes crazy cause he can't handle the "pressure". Instead of fixing the rare occasion where the line was crossed or a situation taken too far they have softened it to the point that the only real training that a soldier gets is in combat. And thats if they survive long enough to learn it. I have had to personaly train 3 soldiers fresh out of basic while in a combat zone. Now teaching someone advanced soldiering is not a problem, But when im teaching him how to perform the basic functions on his personal weapon I say there needs to be some changes. Just my rant.

SGT L. Formerly of Army Recon.