Monday, April 18, 2005


Here’s a bunch of questions I’ve received. If I missed yours, email me again. I should have more time now that we’ve graduated. (Did I mention that we graduated last Friday? Yeeeehaaaaw!)

how accruate is the movie Full Metal Jacket?

Well, that movie took place during the 1960s and was the Marine Corps rather than the US Army, but since R Lee Ermy was an actual Marine Corps Drill Instructor I would guess that it was fairly accurate. Compared to today, we couldn’t get away with a lot of the phrases and terminology that was used, but the basic idea is pretty similar.

do you ever quote the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket?

Mostly only when joking around with other Drill Sergeants. Nobody would (or at least should) try to use lines from a movie in a serious way. You have to come up with your own material.

We civilians can't keep up with all the alphabet soup. That's because we just don't live it every day. Now, I have a question for you, Sarge. In what area do the Marines and the Army NOT overlap? Seems to me that both branches have essentially the same capability. Perhaps the Army is better with construction activities, and the Marines are better at operations involving water, such as capturing islands. Both have infantry and armor, and air capability, however. I'd just like to hear you unbiased [if possible] opinion.

I did a whole post on Army and Marines one time, but the gist of it is this: The Marines have a reputation as being more Infantry oriented because they have fewer support troops and have always emphasized that every Marine is a Rifleman first. The Army has begun to copy that in training their support troops, and in the last 3 years it has taken hold extremely well. This last group that graduated Friday are some of the best tactically trained troops I’ve put out yet. The Army probably has more organic capability to operate independently than the Marines, but the point is moot, because virtually all operations are jointly executed with each service playing some part.

What's up Sergeant, I wanna know your opinion on something, I joing the USMC, and my College Advisor asked me why I joined and I said to pay for college, her response was, "Yes . . . you'll be paying with the blood of other people" . . . now everyone that heard that took offense to it, except my mother, what is your take on this?

She’s and idiot, and in my opinion it is unethical and possibly criminal to try to indoctrinate students with her own political views, especially when she attempts to dissuade people from serving their country. Then again it’s fine for her to have her opinion and probably natural that it seeps through when she talks to people. She has a fine line to walk and took a step on the wrong side. Hopefully she gets fired for it, but I wouldn’t count on it.

As to whether you are actually paying with the blood of other people, that’s an interesting idea. From my perspective, you’ll be paying with your own sweat, commitment, hard work, and sense of duty. If you don’t want to do any actual fighting, cut the odds by staying out of the Infantry or joining the Navy or something. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have to, just that it is less likely. I would guess that you joined the Marines rather than one of the other services because you like the pride they have in the Corps. That’s good, but you better understand that that pride is EARNED. The farther you are from combat and the easier your job is, the less pride people tend to take in it. I’m not saying a clerk in the Navy doesn’t take pride in their job. I am saying that if you’re going to do the rough stuff, pride is the only way you will ever be repaid for it. With the exception of some specialty pays, everybody pretty much gets paid the same. If anything, some of the easier jobs will pay more for their specialty like languages or high demand technicians, etc.

And by the way, we do kill people. That’s a fact.

We try to kill the people who need killing, and will take casualties ourselves sometimes to avoid hurting civilians, but shit happens. Civilians have always gotten the short end of the stick when a war is fought in their country. But if a war is going to happen in your country, you WANT it to be the US who conducts it. Other countries and factions go out of their way to kill civilians and damage infrastructure. We do the opposite. You will never be able to make war sterile or pretty. Ugly and wrong things will always happen. That’s the nature of the beast. Anybody who says different is full of crap. We do our best to keep it to a minimum.

DS, I being a soldier just like you recently finished reading about 4 DS's who were abusing privated during their basic training course, the story is in this weeks army times. I was wondering your thoughts on that type of stuation, I know you are not among those who are caught up in it, but I would like to hear from a DS's perspective on the situation. Any ideas as to why it may have happened and how the Army could go about to further ensure it doesn't continue to happen.

Those Drill Sergeants (and one Captain I believe) are fricking idiots. They deserve whatever they get. The world is full of stupid people, unfortunately, and we try to screen them out as best we can. If they make it on the trail, ideally their buddies should be watching out for them to save them from their own stupidity. Apparently a bunch of idiots got assigned to the same unit.

I have no doubt that their intentions were good, at least in the beginning. They probably thought that they were doing their part to instill "old school" discipline or something. They haven’t stopped to think that back when it was generally accepted to beat the shit out of Privates, was also when the Army was in the worst shape of its life. I know a guy who got his front teeth busted out by a Drill Sergeant in the late 60’s or early 70’s. Did it make the Army a better place when they did business that way? Hell no. The CQs had to carry loaded weapons because of all the drugs and criminal activity back then.

There is a general feeling that discipline has gotten too lax in the last 10, 20, 50, 200 years. Whether it’s true or not is up for debate, but the idea is out there. (I think it’s true to some extent, but everybody always says "Oh… we were waaaay more disciplined when I went through!" That’s BS. We got away with all kind of crap when I went through. Nothing too serious, but we were still wrong. It still happens. The better soldiers will police themselves, and the turds will always get away with whatever they can. If the platoon is getting out of control, it’s because their Drill Sergeants are not as engaged as they should be. If you are getting home early (6-7 pm) every night, then you’re not doing your job. Somebody has to be engaged with the Privates 24/7. Even if it’s only the CQ later in the cycle, the CQ has to be ENGAGED. He can’t be sitting in the office watching a movie all the time. He needs to be in the barracks walking though, talking to soldiers. They have to know that there is some kind of command presence or you’re going to get a Lord of the Flies type thing happening.

When Drill Sergeants do stupid or criminal things, it’s not because they don’t know better. They know. It’s because they have consciously ignored their better judgement for some reason. Their better judgement needs to be reinforced by the other Drills in the Company. You never cover up for someone. If you think they might be doing some shady shit, you advise them, then you warn them, and if they refuse to stop you go to the chain of command. If it’s something obviously criminal, you skip the first two steps of course. Your own ideas about being a good buddy or whatever don’t outweigh the DUTY you have to the US Army. The Army gets a huge black eye when this shit happens and it affects everybody. The first thing that will happen is the whole Chain of Command will be forced to overreact, (they have no choice) and then it DOES become hard to discipline soldiers or conduct daily business. You are also not helping them out, because they nearly always get caught eventually. Then their career is gone, their family life is in shambles, and nobody wins.

I know a lot of Privates and future Privates read this site. It’s the same thing in BCT or in the Army in general. You gotta look at the big picture and understand that your loyalty should extend as far as your buddy will let it. But when they put you in an ethical dilemma by doing something criminal, they aren’t being loyal to you or to the Army in general, and it ends up hurting everybody involved. The longer it goes on, the worse it’s going to hurt. I had several Soldiers get in trouble for fraternization this cycle. They wrote notes to potential girl/boyfriends after being specifically briefed that it was unacceptable. They were told that there would be no tolerance, and there wasn’t. They got Article 15s (Company grade) for writing notes. They lost good money out of their checks for those notes (hundreds of dollars). But if they hadn’t been caught, it probably would have progressed to more serious fraternization, and they would have gotten kicked out of the Army. They knew the rules and the consequences, and did it anyway. We addressed it, and they continued to train. None of them would have had it any other way. (Now, at least) Every soldier that graduated this time deserved it. They made a mistake, paid the price and learned a lesson, and are better off for it. If their buddies had covered for them, they would be back at McDonalds now, flipping burgers.

All in all, It just pisses me off that guys like that make news and it overshadows the good shit that is going on in BCT now. Although nobody likes change when it is happening, I look back at the last 2 ½ years and have to admit that I like the way it is going.


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Semper Fi!

Bill Adams

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Sarge. Quick question. Is it possible for a soldier in basic training to stop training or get a "lateral" switch to another branch. I'm trying to figure out if that's fact or fiction? What is a soldier decides he wants to be a marine? Can he get out or is too late once he's in basic training. Or a sailor wanting to be a soldier, vice versa. What's the truth to this. By the way, I'm writing a term paper on military branches and all that other good stuff. Sincerely, Another Stupid Civilian

3:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what happens when you get kick out of the army?? What are the consequenses???? Thank you

9:49 AM  

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