[lit-ideas] Re: Dumb soldiers?

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2006 14:06:33 -0800

I don't disagree with what you've written, Andreas.  The system you suggest
is what the French Foreign Legion uses -- sort of.  The first part of their
training is a heavy dose of a lot of bad stuff in the form of intimidating
lectures, horrific films and brutal calisthenics.  At the end of that they
are given the opportunity to get out and the faint hearted do, but those who
choose to go on, if they enter the next phase, a phase of working with
expensive equipment, they can no longer opt out without penalty -- although
some do fail to complete their 8-years of obligated service and the FFL
doesn't worry too much about going after them.  If they return to France
they can be arrested and go to jail, so the FFL doesn't make it easy, but if
you really don't want to be there then the FFL really doesn't want you, and
that seems wise.

 

I've discovered that it is possible to opt out of our Army during training.
I know of someone who thought he was ready, trained himself in advance of
going in and did the hard calisthenics better than anyone else, but when it
came to being punished for what the others did, he balked.  He ended up
saying he'd rather go to jail than endure that.  Apparently the Army could
have sent him to jail but chose not to. I'm not sure what his discharge
papers said, but he was discharged in the midst of boot camp.   

 

And something like that happened when I was in book camp.  One of the guys
in my platoon joined because of a fight with his girlfriend.  They made up
via male and he wanted out.  He wrote to his mother who contacted the base
commander personally.  The base commander discharged this guy as well.
However, this has never been the norm in the US military.  The rest of us
had the impression that if we balked we would go to jail.  I'd like to see a
system closer to the FFL -- at least in the USMC :-)

 

However, if someone goes through all the training, is assigned to a base and
when a war starts, he balks, that seems to me a different matter.  I don't
think ignorance can any longer be claimed.  

 

Lawrence

 

-----Original Message-----
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Andreas Ramos
Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2006 1:09 PM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Dumb soldiers?

 

Sen. Kerry implied that only dumb people join the Army. Lawrence says nobody
is so dumb as 

to not realize they'll be in combat and get shot at.

 

There was an article in Harpers last year about soldiers who went AWOL. The
journalist 

talked with a bunch of them.

 

From the Harper's article, well, yes, people join the Army but don't realize
that 1) they 

must get out of bed at 5 am 2) they must obey orders 3) they can't discuss
or ignore orders 

and 4) they'll get shot at.

 

To most of us, this sounds pretty funny. What did they think they were
joining? The cub 

scouts?

 

But with the "adventure advertising", the general lack of information about
life (too much 

TV), and the false presentation of the military on TV (M.A.S.H, all the Army
comedy shows, 

etc.), many kids have the idea that the Army is a frat house.

 

And then there's those who enlist to get training, get a job, and so on.
They really never 

expected to "be shot at". They just want to be an electrician. Suddenly,
they're in war 

zone.

 

The answer isn't "you made a choice, so shut up." It's not good to have a
military with 

reluctant soldiers.

 

Perhaps there should a chance after boot camp to reconsider and be allowed
to quit, or be 

moved into a non-combat position with civilian conditions (wake up at normal
hours, etc.)

 

yrs,

andreas

www.andreas.com

 

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