Friday, August 24, 2007

Pansy Camp

I guess the Marine Corps just isn't what it used to be.

A Marine Corps drill instructor is facing 225 counts of abusing recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

From the article: In one incident, Sgt. Jerrod M. Glass allegedly ordered a recruit to jump head-first into a trash can and then pushed him further into the container, according to court documents cited in The San Diego Union-Tribune. He is also accused of striking recruits with a tent pole and a heavy flashlight.

So? The poor little Marines got hit and humiliated. Oh the horror of suffering some sophomoric abuse at the hands of a few drill instructors as they prepare the so-called men to go to war where they might suffer real abuse at the hands of a merciless enemy.

When some of these guys are in some Iraqi, or God-forbid, North Korean prison camp being beaten, tortured, starved and humiliated they can't go up the chain of command and make a phone call to their lawyers or the ACLU or the press or their mommies.

Marines train for war. That's what they do. Honestly, I think there should be plenty of abuse and humiliation as part of the program at boot camp to prepare them for the realities of war.

I went through Marine Corps boot camp in 1986 (San Diego). Was I abused and humiliated? You be the judge. Would I tolerate from a civilian employer what I did in boot camp? No way.
  • Week 2 of boot camp - Drill instructors were trying to get us all lined up by height and making a huge mess of it. I couldn't hold my tongue any longer, I had to say something. So of course my Senior Drill Instructor, a short little guy named SSgt. Villegas called me out in front of the rest of the recruits. He took off my cover (hat to the rest of you), threw it on the ground, stomped on it a bit, crammed his Smokey Bear down on my head, yelled at me a lot, and told me to get everyone lined up by height if I was so smart. So I did. Of course I paid for it for a week in various ways that I can't even recall but it was worth it.
  • One of our drill instructors was kicked out of our platoon and we later saw him with a newer platoon several weeks later. Even though I did not report him, say anything to him or about him, I like to think that maybe I was partially responsible for getting him booted out. I was in the Senior Drill Instructor's office and he was seated at his desk. I don't recall what he was talking to me about but I just happened to have another drill instructor on either side of me. The one on the left was practicing his NCO sword drill. I guess he was trying to scare me or something but in my peripheral vision I saw what he was doing. He came around with his sword fast and stopped it about a half inch from my throat. I saw it coming and I was half tempted to step back, turn and beat the daylights out of him but decided on another course of action. I did NOTHING. I didn't blink, flinch, move or make a sound. After a well timed pause I just turned my head and glared at him for a few seconds then looked back at the Senior. It make the D.I. look like an immature moron. There was no reason for me to complain or be upset.
  • The Great Skivvy Swap - One day after a PT run we were back at the squad bay and the drill instructors were of course yelling at us for something. We had to stand in front of our foot lockers and the Senior yelled "Strip! Move!" We figured he was going to herd us in to the showers. Then he bellows, "Switch sides! Move!" Huh? We were a little confuse so he not-so-patiently clarifies that we were to go stand in front of the foot locker of the person directly across the squad bay from us. So here's 52 guys running across the squad bay naked (WonderWoman's going to have a good time with this one). So we're back at attention in front of the other guy's stuff. "Get dressed! Move!" was the next order so off we go, running back to our stuff. "Stoooooooooooooop! Get back! Move!" Huh? "Get dressed move!" Off we go. "Stooooooooooooop! Get back! Move!" Uh-oh. "Get dressed in place. Move!" Oh you MUST be joking! We didn't say that of course because we knew he wasn't. So, we each got dressed in the nasty stuff the guy across from us was wearing. Tall guys got short clothes, short guys got tall clothes. I gotta tell you, putting on some other dude's sweaty underwear is pretty humiliating and you can be none of us were laughing. Yet, no one refused to follow the order. To the best of my knowledge it none of us became deranged killers over the incident.
  • I did serve as a punching bag for one of my drill instructors once. He was trying to provoke me. I am not a person who is easily provoked. I clearly saw his motives and I didn't take the bait. He was shorter than me but he was tougher than me and I would have got the crap kicked out of me had I taken him on. I didn't back down from him but I didn't take a swing at him. Even if I could have beat him, it was a no-win situation for me. So I stood my ground and he gave me a couple of gut shots. He wasn't even trying. If he was, I'd have been on the ground. He was testing me essentially to see if I'd cry or break down or so something like that. It wasn't really until after that incident that she showed any respect for me. I guess I passed the test. Was it abuse? By civilian standards, yes. Did it even occur to me to report it? No. When the Inspector General came around and asked us if we had been hit or abused by our drill instructors I said no. I suspect that if I had said yes, I'd have been the one looked down on. Again, another test; loyalty.
There were lots of other miscellaneous incidents and those of you who have been through boot camp will certainly have some of your own to report. Even those of you from the lesser branches of the military (yes, the Marines view you that way though your service is no less appreciated) have your own stories. I heard from an Air Force guy once that they were forced to endure a 5 mile hike once. A Navy guy told me that he was traumatized by having to run twice a week. And an Army friend complained that sometimes they had to train for more than 4 hours a day in boot camp.

Seriously though, how can we expect to teach our troops, especially our Marines to endure war-like conditions if we have to pamper them and not make things too hard on them? There should be guidelines but certain things should also be part of the program to instill the notion that they can endure far more they imagined when it's needed. Intrinsic in training for war runs counter to every other civilian occupation, even para-military jobs such as the police who are there to protect and serve. Marines are there to kill and destroy, that's the job of military force. Some of those men come out of the experience much the worse for wear and that's a shame. Some people can't even develop the mental toughness for boot camp; that's even a bigger shame. But that's the point of boot camp; if you can't handle it there, you can't be trusted in combat and you'll put the lives of your platoon at greater risk.