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It Will Take More Than Increased Supervision To Fix Hazing At Marine Boot Camp
A recent death at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, brought attention to hazing in Marine recruit training. Raheel Siddiqui, a Pakistani-American recruit was subjected to abuse, which including being slapped, being insulted based on his Muslim faith, and being put in an industrial clothes dryer which was then turned on.
Hard training and hazing are not the same thing. After hard training, one is better for the experience, and able to handle tougher challenges in the future. Hazing just beats people down, and establishes an expectation that the next generation should be subject to it as well, just the way child abusers were often abused themselves. The Marine Corps needs to address the problem it has with hazing at recruit training, both by better supervision, and also by addressing at least one of the reasons that drill instructors choose to haze: getting undesirable recruits to quit.
The investigation in Parris Island has revealed numerous abuses. For example, ethnic and homophobic slurs are frequently used. A drill instructor ordered one recruit to have the recruit’s sister call, so that the DI could hit on her. Perhaps most troubling, some abusive DIs may have been intoxicated. They knew what they were doing was against Marine Corps regulations; they told recruits,”snitches get stitches” and bribed some with food for their silence.
None of these techniques are authorized instructional techniques in the Marine Corps. Most are expressly proscribed. They’re sadistic and wrong, as well as ineffective. Nonetheless, the newest revelations raise the same chorus any story about military training invariably does — people stating that training has gotten soft and that beatings and ethnic slurs are part what makes Marines tougher.
What training value is there in ethnic or racially-based slurs or harassment? While they may be an effective means of tearing a recruit down, they leave no way to actually build him or her back up. There are plenty of harsh words available in the English language without resorting to ethnic slurs. A recruit can stop being incompetent; he cannot stop being of Pakistani ancestry.
What part of military training is improved by having the instructors drunk in front of recruits? A DI’s job requires that he be in control of the training environment at all times. His absolute control of the recruits’ environment is part of his perceived authority. How is he supposed to have that if he isn’t even in full control of himself?
Many still say that corporal punishment and other hazing is an appropriate means to punish Marines, especially recruits. They claim that this is necessary to instill and maintain discipline. The cause and effect relationship between being hit, or being shoved in a clothes dryer, and becoming a more capable Marine is hard to explain. There are plenty of ways a drill instructor can make a recruit miserable without striking him, or worse.
The abuses uncovered after Siddiqui’s suicide weren’t the product of a carefully thought-out plan to tear recruits down in order to build them up into Marines. The abuses amount to nothing more than bullying and sadism under the color of authority.
As always happens after a high-visibility failure, corrective measures will be applied. Some already have been, such as increased officer supervision of NCO trainers, and mandatory suspensions for DIs under investigation. Some might even fairly be termed overcorrections, but when a large number of people in positions of authority at Parris Island clearly couldn’t handle autonomy without disastrous results, what was Marine Corps leadership supposed to do? It had to act, both because it was the right thing to do, and also to forestall the need for civilian leaders to impose even more drastic changes from a position of ignorance.
The pro-hazing voices out there, as repulsive as some of them are, do have one decent point, however. There are some recruits who shouldn’t be in the military.
However, we shouldn’t need to resort to hazing or abuse to get rid of them. In addition to the stock administrative solutions that have been or will be implemented, there should be one more: Kick out more recruits.
Physical training as punishment doesn’t work on an individual who is unable or unwilling to actually do one more push-up. When the only punishment for not being able to do physical training is just more physical training, then there is a temptation for some DIs to turn the knob to 11 and resort to unauthorized punishments.
The historical rate of attrition from Marine Corps recruit training is only 10% for men and 15% for women. Of those, the large majority are dismissed for some variation of fraudulent enlistment, not for failure to perform at Boot Camp. Only about 23% of washouts (that is, two to 4% of total enlistees) actually leave for conduct or performance. As an old saying goes, the fastest way off Parris Island is to graduate. It’s actually pretty hard not to graduate, as long as one can put up with the requisite amount of harassment.
To fix this, the Marine Corps should build a greater amount of attrition into the system. Recruits who have persistent trouble during initial training often have issues later in their enlistments. Accept the cost of more attrition in boot camp in order to avoid first-term attrition later on. Give the DIs much broader latitude to bounce recruits and quickly process them out of the service with minimal review. This would also further enhance the elite reputation of the Corps — not only would it be known for the toughest initial training of the services, but also for its selectivity during that training.
Just as importantly, giving DIs more administrative authority to kick out non-performers removes the last excuse of those who haze — that they were doing it to remove a non-hacker from the service. Allow them the authority to do that the right way, without physical force, and the only DIs who still haze will be the true bullies and sociopaths, who can then be punished appropriately without any institutional remorse or second-guessing. It puts the onus on the DIs to do the right thing, because they will have no more excuses.
The Marine Corps can and must eliminate hazing and abuse in its recruit training. But beyond the usual administrative changes that have to happen, it can also use this opportunity to make the service tougher and more selective. The Marine Corps doesn’t have to become softer, just smarter.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.