View Full Version : Recruit Training Meeting the Grade

02-09-05, 05:54 AM

Guest Column: Recruit Training Meeting the Grade

By Aaron Snapke

As a longtime fan of Col. David Hackworth and SFTT.org, I’d like to offer my contribution to a subject that has received a lot of attention here – the effectiveness of recruit training (see Col. Hackworth, “The March of the Porcelain Soldiers,” SFTT.org, Apr. 3, 2002).

In mid-2003, I made the choice to serve my country by joining the Army Naitonal Guard. I was not the typical recruit, having my bachelors degree already and at the age of 26. I came in on an OCS enlistment, and was sent to Fort Jackson, S.C., first. I went in late summer 2003, when the ranks were filled with younger split-option recruits, and the place was packed. All were non-combat MOS’s, and almost half were female.

Was the training softer than in the past? From talking to people in my Guard unit about their experiences (a good many of them started at Fort Benning), I would say the training was just as demanding, if not more so. More things have been added to BCT to the point of over-saturation.

I paid attention, and am a good learner, and was put in an outstanding platoon and company, and found that I knew more about common tasks than most of the troops I ran across when I got back. Every opportunity was given for me to learn. I chose to make the most of it. Not everyone going in will take as much away, as when you’re only taught something on the run once, retention of info suffers.

I think that the environment is different than in the past. There was no hazing, nor was there abuse like some of the stories I’ve heard from others (often enough to believe them). This isn't to say it was easy.

I was worked to muscle failure many times a day, we had at least one person drop of heat stroke every day (someone in another company died of the heat that summer). Drill sergeants used appropriate language (which included swearing) and if someone got their attention, it was mostly because they deserved it.

We were told that if the drill sergeants had their way, less would graduate, but were told, “We have to play a numbers game.” At the end of the training cycle, my head DS took us all into a room and told us who he thought shouldn’t graduate. He asked us if we agreed, and most did. He then told those who had been identified that when they went on to AIT and their duty station, those people wouldn’t know how lazy and selfish they had been. He advised them to take advantage of the second chance.

I don’t know how many of them took the opportunity, but from their reactions, I think that a few of them took the message to heart.

I believe the reason my experience was so good was the quality of leadership. We had a great group of NCOs who were tireless in getting the job done. The officers did what they could to empower the NCOs to train new soldiers, and almost every single NCO took that as an opportunity. I always knew that as hard as I worked, not only were the NCOs right there with me, but that they kept up the schedule for up to three years (so I forgave them their middle-of-the-day naps out of sight from us).

To conclude, there is still excellent training being given, even at Fort Jackson. I am certain that not everyone has as good an experience, just as I am certain that not everyone in the past had quality training. I think that complaining how easy the new recruits have it probably predates the Roman Legions.

Looking at the way our troops are performing right now at war, I see a much bigger problem with the senior leadership than I do with the troops on the ground. If anyone should have their training called into question, it should be the generation of “leaders” who choose politics and career advancement over their comrades in arms.

Guest contributor Aaron Snapke is a member of the Army National Guard. Send Feedback comments to dwfeedback@yahoo.com.


02-09-05, 06:09 AM
At the end of the training cycle, my head DS took us all into a room and told us who he thought shouldn’t graduate. He asked us if we agreed, and most did.

He's kidding right? Please tell me that Guard training is not a democracy on who graduates! :no:

02-09-05, 06:51 AM
This is a case of: He doesn't even know he doesn't know.
These guys think the ROPES Course is tough.
It came from the hackworth.com website. Nuff said.