Three Meter Zone | JD's Bunker | Poetry | Chapel | American Journal
Bring Mommy to Boot Camp
J. D. Pendry
This time they've really pegged my gag meter. "They" being the group of people - whomever they are... who continually try to fix something that's proven effective over many years and frankly don't need fixin' - well it didn't, but now I'm not so sure. "They" continue to tinker with what is most important to our Army - the basic combat training of soldiers. This is where the Nintendo generation learns the basic skills required for surviving combat - hence the name. It's also where they learn something even more critical than those basic skills. Values, discipline, self-discipline, teamwork, following instructions and obedience to orders.
My son graduated from basic training in 1996. He showed me a pile of photographs from his time at Fort Jackson. In practically every one, he was in a room in the barracks hugging female trainees. Being an old Drill Sergeant myself I was curious about basic training in the 90's so I asked my son to tell me about it. He told me that it was not very demanding physically. Then he highlighted the several concerts he attended during training complete with pizza and coke. On Saturday afternoons, I use to march my platoons to the troop PX. About the fifth week, if they were doing well I let them buy a soda while they were waiting their turn with the barber, but pizza and concerts? To my son, the highlight of basic training was concerts and pizza; not road marches, tough PT, night ranges, bivouac, or hard-as-woodpecker-lips Drill Sergeants.
It's no mystery nowadays that the Army is having a hard time meeting accession goals. And, "they" have tried just about everything to entice Joe and Josephine into the Army. Oops - I forgot. We can only refer to them as private, soldier, or by their last name. It's a self-esteem issue. Bonehead is probably out too. I gained much self-esteem in basic training. My Drill Sergeant, who I swear hated me for daring to breathe the same air as him, issued it to me on graduation day when he looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said "good job soldier." But, back to recruiting. Since the mega bonuses and other enticements haven't produced the numbers, we need the rocket scientists who figure these things out have decided there is another reason why young people don't want to join the Army. They're scared of Drill Sergeants. And, as my son would say, DUH? Maybe I'm too old, but don't you think that a little fear, which is more accurately described as a healthy respect for, is good. After all, the Drill Sergeant instills the fundamentals - discipline, toughness, and the skills if need be to destroy another human. A bonehead (oops there I go again) just off the streets with today's attitudes, needs to think that the Drill Sergeant is going to jump up and down on his chest if he doesn't stay totally focused on what he is doing. Anyway, their solution for overcoming this fear and encouraging young people to join the Army - Drill Sergeants are going to hang out in recruiting offices to show their "softer side" to potential recruits. Every Drill Sergeant wants that relationship with a private. Let me be your buddy. We can be big pals while you're learning to be a soldier. Hell, just call me JD. GAG METER PEGGED!
Do we really want recruits showing up at Camp Jackson looking for their pals in round brown hats? Let me pose another question here. If the Nintendo Rangers are so frightened of Drill Sergeants how does the Marine Corps manage to makes it's recruiting accessions? The Marine Corps that offers fewer cash bonuses, less education money and is famous for in-your-face boot camp.
My mentors conditioned me never to bring up a problem unless I had a solution to offer. I have one. If American youth, except for those going into the Marine Corps, are so frightened of Drill Sergeants, I suggest the following as a recruiting incentive:
"Let's Bring Mommy to Boot Camp."
Yessir Mom, we'll pay you a $10,000 bonus to accompany your Nintendo Thumbed, Twinkie-eating son or daughter to basic training. While there, you'll live with the Mom Platoon right in the barracks with your soldier. You can't be with your future soldier while he or she trains, but look at the ways you can help him or her deal with this frightening, fire-breathing Drill Sergeant and the transition to Army life:
Yes Mom, be there when your little trooper passes in review. Make your contribution to our nation's defense. Contact your local recruiter today.
Lost: One Army, last seen in 1990, vicinity of Southwest Asia. If found call the Department of Defense.
© 2000 J. D. Pendry