An Infantry Drill Sergeant’s Thoughts On The Current State of Basic Training

For the second time this cycle, we have pulled prospective infantrymen in from the field because of potential thunderstorms hours in the future. I don’t know anyone that knows anyone who has ever been struck by lightning. We have completely disrupted valuable limited training time based on the potential (extremely low likelihood) hazard of a lightning strike, an event that can be mitigated by laying low in low ground away from metal. If we saw a copperhead in the field, would we bring the company in?

Alpha Outpost Knife PhotoAbsolutely not, but higher echelons of command have become so risk averse and image protective that the Infantry now runs from the storm, rather than weathering it. These young men could be in combat in mere weeks to months and have not had to so much as endure a night of soggy sleeping arrangements, and I am ashamed of it.

Right now, in a cold and dark desert somewhere, someone is training to kill these kids, and we are failing them. I see it in their eyes, they feel robbed of that bonding experience of shared misery.

For all of the talk surrounding the weakening of the force brought about by gender integration of combat arms, that is not what will lessen our combat readiness. Physical demands tests being emplaced currently will weed out those that cannot handle the rigors of combat arms. What will ruin the profession of arms is the pervasive mentality that when a risk presents itself, turn and run.

It’s wet? Get somewhere dry. It’s cold? Get somewhere warm. You’re under fire? Hide. Gone are the days of acceptable risk that is met with unwavering resolve.

Dump MRT. True resilience comes from facing difficulty head on, enduring the pain, and facing the next challenge with the knowledge of prior survival and victory.

This is my last cycle on the trail. In my 2 year tenure I have been witness to the introduction of mandatory 2100 bed times, soft shoes throughout all of red phase, milk and nutrigrain bars before bed, participation patches, risk avoidance, and coming soon mandatory videos of the soldier in training being sent to the family after said family completes online Army Family Team Building training. We are raising a generation of boy scouts to replace the most efficient and deadly fighting force on the planet, and I won’t sit idly by while it happens.

Smoke your men. Enforce the standards we know to be effective. Kick out the weak, and build the promising.

This we’ll defend.