Angry drill instructors

Basic training, as anyone who has been there or even heard of it knows, involves a lot of yelling and getting smoked a lot. This is to be expected, given that when you enter the military, you start out not knowing too much and they are trying to whip you into shape.

But is it different for experienced soldiers going through training for higher level stuff? I heard that drill sergeants actually have to do basic training a second time as part of their drill sergeant course. Assuming that they must already have the BCT stuff down pat, shouldn’t they in theory be able to go the whole ten weeks without anyone ever yelling at them or getting smoked? How about for really elite training like SEAL training? I’ve heard horror stories about how tough it is, but I would think there would be a level of respect between the instructors and the recruits that wouldn’t be present in BCT due to the fact that anyone who is in SEAL school is already a pretty damn good warrior. So I would think that in theory, a SEAL recruit wouldn’t need an angry instructor in their face on an hourly basis. They are already motivated and already respect the chain of command.

Has anyone done this type of advanced training, whether it be Rangers, drill sergeant school, or any other type of elite course? Is the atmosphere similar to Basic, or is it a totally different relationship between recruits and instructors due to the fact that you’ve already proven you belong?

Bonus stupid question, something I was thinking about while going through what is known as the “shark attack”: if you were to take an elite group of soldiers and put them undercover to do BCT, would the drill sergeants be impressed with their performance or would they get berated and smoked all the time just like new recruits because that’s just how it is?

I’m just trying to picture a Shark Attack where no recruit is moving a muscle or doing anything wrong and drill sergeants stomping around huffing trying to find someone to smoke but unable to do so. That would be hilarious.

I’m guessing they put a certain amount of pressure on even elite trainees, because they will be under pressure when they have to perform. The adrenalized brain works differently than the non-adrenalized brain and my guess is you have to either master your emotions to the point you’re stone cold in any situation, or learn how to function when you’re as scared as it’s possible to be.

IMO the yelling isn’t about respect.

It’s a role as I understand it. If they play their role correctly, you learn better.

I’ve been told it puts your brain in learning mode, in a manner of speaking.

Once someone is training to be Jump and Die… er, Green Beret, they’re indoctrinated into the Army, and don’t need to be psychologically broken down to accept the Army’s way of thinking:

So the trainees not only want to be there, they’ve proven that they can handle the normal Army to the point the Army is willing to make them into Special Forces. If they aren’t Army all the way by then, another few weeks of shouting isn’t going to do it.

My Daddy was a drill instructor in USMC for many years. He liked to say “beat 'em down, and they hear better”. Of course nowadays no one gets hit (;)) anymore. My brothers were all ‘meh’ about it when they came home on their boot leave. My Son-of-a-wrek said he had never heard anyone yell so loud for so long. They were all good Marines, so I guess yelling does the trick.
ETA my son went to sniper school before deploying to the M.E., I will ask him about the extra training and let you know.

Many years ago, my mother worked in the PX at MCRD in San Diego.

She told me the DIs would be in several times a day to buy cough drops and always sounded completely scratchy-voiced and hoarse when talking to her. :slight_smile:

I’ve always wondered how they turn off the DI stuff once they go home to their families?

Also I imagine Hollywood is right on the money when DI’s get their first look at a bunch of new recruits and when they say “what did I do to deserve such a bunch of worthless blank, blank, blank that I now have to train?”. Especially times when recruitments have been down and they are relaxing the rules on whom to let join up.

I mean DI’s are evaluated by how well they train the recruits and they must get frustrated with what they sometimes have to work with?

The guy across the street says he was a Marine sniper. Do you know any ways to trip him up if he isn’t? He owns a gold plated 1911A he claims to have been owned by General Pershing.

I was a little bit older than some but not all of the recruits when I joined the Army at 23. I felt like those of us who were a little older didn’t take it as seriously as the guys that were around 18. I just didn’t feel as much stress or anxiety as most of the younger guys, Basic was really more psychological than anything, sure it was physical but once they whipped us into shape it was a cakewalk. Actually my favorite part of the experience was just listening to the drill sergeants constantly insult people, I could never stop laughing even if they then began smoking me too.

In elite schools , the students all chose and competed to get there. Fear of failure is a huge motivator, as is the drive to succeed. There’s not much need for browbeating except for occasionally reinforcing safety issues.

I know there can be a lot of pure hazing in intermediate schools before you get to the elite levels. I’ve heard there’s a lot of hazing in RIP (Ranger Induction Program) before you get to Ranger school. And my personal memory of jump school was that some instructors were bona-fide unprofessional pricks about trying to get people to drop out. But some of those guys were Vietnam vets, which are quite different from later generations.

Ask him to describe SERE training and see if it matches up with the link. As a sniper, he would have to have gone through Level C training at Rangely or Warner Springs.

SERE training (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape), which I managed to avoid, is a fairly intense training camp that teaches all of those aspects of capture. While I didn’t have to go, I knew a lot of guys who did. While it’s rough, there isn’t the same sort of harassment as there is in boot camp. The abuse handed out is to simulate conditions in a POW camp, not to teach you to march in a straight line.

In my experience, the schools generally remain rather… Um… “Loud.” But the goals are different. The problem is that if you are trying to get 200 people through your training program as efficiently as possible, you need them to shut the *@#& up, do what they are told, and pay attention. If you try to identify every Soldier’s individual needs and personal motivation, you will not get things accomplished on time. So they resort to the most common denominator, which is shouting and physical punishment. You will notice that the schools that tend to be the most ‘loud’ are the ones that have (A) a tight timeline, (B) a large number of trainees, and © an interest in indoctrinating the trainee into a certain group mentality or culture. I’ve been to plenty of schools that were perfectly pleasant, academic experiences, because they didn’t have these three factors.

When I went to Warrant Officer Candidate School, the school started off like basic in the sense that the cadre used shouting and ‘smoking’ sessions to establish their dominance. For the first week or so, the message was: “You listen and do as you’re told. We’re in charge. We won’t tolerate poor performance.” If your group was able to shut up and listen and accomplish things, you could get through it with a minimum amount of shouting. If your group made mistakes and did not cooperate, there would be a lot of late night PT.

But remember, this is a school for senior leaders, right? So after that first week you get into the routine and things start to change. The cadre still maintains the standards and conducts inspections and things like that. But they also begin to back off, or become entirely absent. The candidates are increasingly left to their own devices, so that they can plan and execute their own tasks.

**I’ll give you an example: ** When we arrived at the school, there was a rock outside the front of the building. Basic Training is all about obedience, so if the Drill Sergeant wanted the rock to be painted a certain color, he would tell them trainees what to do, when to do it, and he would stand there and watch them paint the rock to make sure it was done correctly.

But Warrant Officer school isn’t basic. It’s about leadership. So the cadre handed us a giant binder full of policies and said, ‘Read this from front to back.’ Somewhere in the middle of that binder was an instruction that said, “Paint the rock gray by the end of day three.” So the candidates had to (A) read the policy, (B) assign responsibility for the rock-painting task, and © execute the rock-painting without supervision.

If we didn’t paint the rock, we’d surely get screamed at and smoked. But that’s not the point. The point is that we were being given a lesson in self-management and self-organization. Since it was a school for leadership, they expected us to be able to accomplish these things without someone standing over our shoulder the whole time.

Here are five questions that are easy to use and would work pretty good.

For the pistol, ask the serial number. There are sites out there that can track it back to it’s point of origin if not illustrious owners. I’d also ask how he got a hold of it even if he is a duper-duper world’s best sniper given a double secret medal by Obama himself only nobody can talk about it.

Not sure why a Marine would deign to own a pistol that was possessed by a mere Army general, anyway. Chesty Puller, OTOH… :slight_smile:

I wonder if there have ever been any scientific studies done on the best way to train soldiers? Are there any foreign militaries that take a less histrionic approach to training? Just looking at the difference between the Army and Marines, it seems like the Marines get a lot more hell from their instructors, and no doubt they are tougher individually than Army soldiers, but I’m not sure that in a modern military environment that makes them BETTER. I think an argument can be made that if the Marines took the “softer” approach of the Army towards training that the Marine Corps would be just as effective as it is now. And DIs might not all be so hoarse all the time.

By G-d, you’re right! Good point.

He said the serial number was verified. He bought it. It is plated in some bright metal.

From my own experiences while in the Army, you will get yelled at by the training cadre for some of the courses but not always. In Basic, the drill sergeants yelled quite a bit, and the reasons for the yelling are understood here, but they didn’t always yell. Yelling wouldn’t work while giving a block of instruction but it would while making corrections or chewing out the ate up privates. When I got to Advanced Individual Training, the drills acted similarly but the instructors for the courses were not drill instructors so they were a little more laid back.

At jump school, we got yelled at a bit but it wasn’t anything like Basic. The Black Hats (instructors) had a more “I’ll screw with you” attitude and though they did some yelling, most of it was repeated procedures on Airborne operations. Soldiers have to follow the exact same process on every jump and it’s important to make sure that is all ingrained for safety reasons. If a soldier messes up, they might get yelled at a bit but there’s more of an emphasis on on-the-spot corrections (push ups) and repeating the training segment to get it right.

I did not go through Special Forces training but I supported them while I was in the Army and I knew of several soldiers who went through and the yelling was really at a minimum. SF soldiers were typically a little older (usually E-5 and above) and were already in the Army for several years so there was a more “professional” aspect to it. Additionally, SF soldiers are expected to think of options on their own and SF Groups tend to cultivate a little more individualism and forward thinking.

An example of this given to me by an SF sergeant who described a mission during the Q Course where his group needed to carry several cans of water to coordinates given to them and then transfer them to whoever is there. They were reaching their time limit with the mission and he ran ahead with another trainee with some of the water to let the recipients know that the rest is on its way. Once they got there, the instructor at the target area responded with “Water? I don’t need any water here” so the sergeant dumped his water out and went back to the other group to let them know that the water wasn’t needed. They were rewarded with a ride home as opposed to having to ruck all the way back. The point being that they were given one set of parameters but whatever happened along the way, the mission priorities changed. Insisting that recipient should take the water or arguing or any other similar response would not have been rewarded.

Members of the Spanish Armed Forces “are not allowed to use foul language, for any soldier in the service of His Most Catholic Majesty is a gentleman and must use language appropriate to one.” The regulation has been updated to get on with the times, but the rule stands. Noncoms are magnificent at coming up with non-foul descriptors that convey the desired imagery, though; I used to work with a client who’d occasionally say “my handle’s buzzing” and, while that is strictly speaking not any kind of foul language, everybody understood it to be semantically equivalent to “blow me”. Turns out he was a former Sergeant (TEDAX, specifically; Demolitions).

According to Bro-who-did-his-military-service, in general the DIs went more for sarcasm than for volume. For those recruits who wouldn’t recognize sarcasm if it was stamped so in multiple colors, they just resorted to speaking very, very, very clearly; Sesame Street had nothing on those guys. One of the differences between ranks was that the higher the rank, the least likely to yell. A corporal might yell occasionally, a sergeant almost never and an officer… if an officer was yelling at you you were fucked up to levels mathematics cannot describe (I’m not counting giving instructions as “yelling”).

As mentioned, the yelling (Basic Training & the like) has nothing to do with respect. It is about efficient and effective communication and it is about creating a stressful, often confrontational environment. Managing stress, mastering emotional responses, keeping cool under pressure–these skills above all will determine whether or not a soldier will be able to perform and keep himself and his comrades safe and mission ready. Soldier patrolling some village and someone runs up to him all agitated and chattering away in their weird language–do you want Soldier to be the sort who is easily spooked, or do you want someone who can put his own fear aside and try to objectively assess the situation?

Higher training will also have an element of that artificial stress, but it plays on different motivations. In Basic, everyone is still kind of scared of getting yelled at and smoked. But you get over it. And by the time you’re thinking about advanced training, you know how to take an ass-chewing, and you know how to push through physical discomfort. The instructor just isn’t going to get your attention by yelling and smoking, unless the goal is to humiliate you by treating you like a recruit. Instead they’ll sound out your fears about personal failure, about being the weak link in a chain that gets everyone on the team killed or worse, about maybe someone talked you into this program but it’s not really you, is it? What if you pass the course and get your wings or your funny hat–do you really want to do this for the rest of your career? Or are you just going to be a patch-finder? A chairborne ranger? Someone who spends all day in an office or a bunker, but gets greeted with hearty, mocking calls of “Hardcore!” Maybe you’re taking up a training slot for someone who actually wants and deserves the credentials you’re just going to waste. Why are you really here? You’ve got a good career, you can go back to that career right now, just say the word. Nobody else in your company has a Ranger tab, they can’t say shit to you about washing out of something they didn’t have the guts to try. There’s no shame in admitting this isn’t the right choice for you, God bless you for having the balls to step up and take a look. Go back and be an asset to your company, this isn’t really you, is it? THAT kind of talk gets under a soldier’s skin.

No, but I do know you probably shouldn’t get him angry. LOL

Where’s Alessan? I was hoping to hear the IDF take on this stuff.