Training, Hazing or Abusing?
By RU Rob
Hazing has been a rite of passage in the military from its inception. Earning the right to wear a badge, or become a member of an elite group has often been paid with embarrassment, sweat, tears and sometimes even blood. But what is too much? Are there definitive lines of what is deemed acceptable or have the winds of a decade of war slowly blurred those lines and opened them to a new interpretation or even erased them all together?
Last week, the New York Times published an article related to the recent death of a Muslim recruit and how the abusive tendencies of some Marine Corps Drill Instructors have permanently scarred and even killed recruits.
I can’t honestly say I know shit about Marine Corps Boot Camp. Why? Because I am an old Army guy. I do know, however, about Army Basic Training as I am a former Drill Sergeant. Doesn’t make me an expert by any means, but I would like to share some of my opinions.
From what I have observed from my time working with Marines as well as some of my closest friends being Marines (I know enough to not say “former Marine”) the Eagle Globe and Anchor (EGA) is the most coveted symbol of the Marine Corps. Don’t believe me? Go for a drive and see just how many EGA stickers you see on the back of vehicles across the US. It is their pride and joy and they want everyone to know it.
There is a term that we in the Army use when it comes to badges like the Expert Infantryman’s Badge or the Expert Field Medical Badge for those on the cadre, those who already have the badge, that take the standards and push them to the very limit. We call them “badge protectors.” In their mind, making it so difficult to earn the badge that it limits the number of soldiers who can achieve their ridiculous standards. This, in turn, makes the badge more valuable in their own mind. It isn’t right as the standards are clearly established, but the fewer the men, the greater the honor. I am not trying to compare the EGA against the EIB or EFMB by any means but is it possible that these Marines were doing just that? Making it impossible for those they deemed “unworthy” to wear their holy grail of badges, the EGA?
I don’t know any of the specifics about the accused Drill Instructors at Parris Island. Don’t know if they were all part of the same unit, spread out across the base or if it was just a couple rogue DI’s who took it a little too far. If the accusations are proven true, it is my opinion that they took it way out of line.
There is always going to be a bat-shit crazy Drill Sergeant. If you ever want to see the debauchery (and also the pathetic writing skills of our current trainees) go visit Awesome Shit my Drill Sergeant Said. I have even written about my own craziness (stupidity). I can say that none of my partners or anyone I personally knew went to the lengths of the accused at Parris Island. But, I can say that we did whatever we could to get as close to that line of what is acceptable on a daily basis.
I get it, the way the military has been pushing through recruits for the last 10 years is almost criminal. Continually lowering the standards, increasing the number of attempts to achieve, and generally defiling our beloved services. Taking a body that is only capable of breathing and making them soldiers or Marines (ok, ok…I will say Airmen and Sailors as well) isn’t always going to work out. I guess the real question is what can we do about it? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that stuffing a recruit into a clothes dryer while possibly intoxicated is not the way to do that.
What do you think? Is it possible to maintain an impossible standard or are we just tired of the quality of the average recruit given? I know one thing for certain: you can take a piece of shit, mold it and shape it into a beautiful flower but in the end it is still just a piece of shit.
Lastly, I want you to understand that I have not convicted theses DI’s, I am not privy to the specifics of this case and am also well aware of the lies that trainees are capable of telling. The truth will come out, just give it time.