Peace Time: September 11, 2001


One of the more interesting jobs in the army during peacetime is commanding a basic training company in the army. This was always interesting in the past, but is now more so because you have male and female recruits, as well as rejects that desperate (to make their quota) recruiters try to slip past you. Like any unit commander, you are subject to the 85/15 rule. In this case, fifteen percent of your recruits will cause 85 percent of your problems. Each eight week cycle will find the company commander faced with forty or more recruits who might not be able to cut the mustard. These fall into two categories, those who can't but don't really want to and those who can't, even though they want to. In the former category you have kids who just don't take to the discipline. Some were induced to enlist in order to "shape them up." In decades past, sergeants would take some of these lads out back and administer some "wall to wall counseling" (a beating.) That sometimes worked, but is now strictly forbidden (although it still happens.) It's the company commander's job to have the last one-on-one talk with these recalcitrant recruits, and decide which ones get the heave ho and when. Many female (and a few male) recruits realize, too late, that the army is really not for them. So the company commanders has to deal with tears as well as a strong reluctance to submit to military discipline. Perhaps the saddest recruits the commander has to deal with are those who were fraudulently passed by a recruiters eager to fill their quota. The army administers a battery of psychological and mental tests to prospective recruits to determine if they are trainable. Those who score too low will soon be found out as they constantly fail to pick up the many procedures taught during basic training. These recruits really want to be in the army and are not discipline problems, they are just too dumb to handle things (like taking apart and reassembling an M-16 rifle in a certain time) essential to a military career. If the recruit is borderline, the commander will discuss with his sergeants if additional training will do the trick. But often its the commanders sad job to tell the eager, but inept, recruits that they cannot stay. But it's not all headaches and angst. On graduation day, the company commander gets to preside over his successful recruits marching past him and demonstrating what success looks like. 


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