What does a drill sergeant do if a recruit arrives at the recruiting depot then realizes what he's gotten himself into and refuses to participate and demands to be sent home?

I imagine it happens from time to time…

Wild guess: a volunteer army doesn’t want such people, so there is a speedy way out for them. Someone with actual knowledge will be along shortly to confirm or refute.


If you don’t want to be there, act like it. You’ll be on a bus home soon.

My basic training flight started with 50, after the first week we lost 10 and graduated 40. The reasons varied from person to person, no matter their excuse, it was because they couldn’t handle military life. That is the job of basic, to weed out those that can’t and train those that can.

Now, if there was a war and/or draft, that goes out the window and they are just looking for any bodies, so nobody gets out.

GQ isn’t the forum for wild guesses. Especially not in the first response. You may want to read the pinned board rules for this forum.

Entry Level Separation is regulated by Department of Defense Instruction 1332.14.

Thats not a wild guess. Its a very good educated guess.

It happened to be right, but it was presented as a “wild guess”. If he had presented it as an educated guess, that would have been different.

Maybe I’m just being unreasonably grumpy.

My Daddy was a Marine Drill Instructor for many years. He could tell you the first day who would wash out.
DoD has criteria to follow.
Your Gomer Pyle types would never last a week.
Daddy always said the bed wetters were the saddest cases.

We had some TV programmes over here that followed some new recruits from day one. It was made clear to them that all they had to do to drop out during the induction was to ask.

Around half of all recruits left before the end of the six-week induction. Homesickness, inability to manage without mummy to iron their shirts, difficulty with the fitness requirements and a realisation that the army just wasn’t for them were the main reasons.

It was pretty obvious that the program was designed to weed out people who were unlikely to do well as soldiers.

Actual person who went through USAR basic training in the 1990s.

Yes, they get rid of this person, but not necessarily quickly. They cat-and-mouse them a little. They do not make it easy. I don’t know if it’s just to make sure you’re not having a little transitory homesickness, and won’t shape up, given a chance, or they want you to be so miserable, you go home and carry the story, and possibly give a few half-hearted recruits pause, saving a few people from doing what you did.

Now, I did know of a couple of women who go sent from entrance processing to fitness (if you are way out of shape, you have to go to “fitness” for intensive PT before you start actual basic; we had two people in my unit who had been in fitness who were excellent soldiers, so, nothing wrong with fitness in and of itself). In fitness, they had some sorts of breakdowns-- I guess long crying jags that got them hospitalized for their mental health, and they were out-processed really quickly. So it can be speedy, but they really have to be worried about you.

They can out-process you really fast for other findings too, like a positive pregnancy test.

But if you are just being a screw-up in hopes of getting thrown out, it may take almost the whole stretch of basic before you are fully out-processed. The biggest screw-up in my unit, who went on sick-call like, every third day, and came back with wild stories about her poor health, that were clearly made up (which anyone who had taken high school biology could tell) was with us for five of the 8 weeks.

In case anyone is interested, it’s possible to get “recycled” in basic. If you are a screw-up, but you aren’t doing it to get out, you just really are a screw-up, they can decide to keep you, and make you do basic again-- essentially, you flunked and have to repeat. You can repeat up to three times, and then you get out-processed (or, when I was in, that was the rule-- don’t know if it still is).

As an aside, I assume that decisions regarding discharging soldiers are made by officers, not by NCOs. Does a drill sergeant have that kind of authority?

Gotta go through the chain of command, in some way. I would imagine.

Compulsory military service has been suspended in Romania. Unfortunately I had to serve before that.

Nobody was sent home. Everyone went through the whole period one way or another.
When I arrived I was told: “You’ll have to fulfill every part of this training program. If you can’t, we’ll help you. If you don’t know how to, we’ll teach you. If you don’t want to, we’ll force you.”

Actually, it’s the First Sergeant who handles it, but the DS who recommends it.

In the Canadian Forces, if you want to quit, you quit. Gaining a release during basic - or what we call General Military Training, GMT - is as simple as asking, though it you’re asking just out of fatigue or anger and you’d legitimately make a decent soldier, they’ll tell you to wait 'til tomorrow morning and see how you feel. But if you really do not want to be there, they do not want you.

Surprising that this is not considered desertion or malingering of some sort - if you signed on the dotted line, you should be forced to stay 4 years or however long a term of service is.

But I guess it makes sense that the divorce is mutually beneficial; the military doesn’t want people who don’t want to be there.

That usually kicks in at some point AFTER basic (and even then, it’s not “desertion” to want to leave unless you literally run away.) The point of GMT is, after all, in part to weed out the non hackers, and it’s just not worth anyone’s effort to make some guy stay if he really isn’t suitable for military service.

The washout rate was about ten percent and, honestly, you could tell on Day One who most of those ten percent were, and no one missed them when they were gone. A few people always surprise you and make it to the end when you didn’t expect them to, of course, and there’s always one or two people who really should have been counselled to leave but didn’t, and later on we were like “Christ, why did we let Smith stay? He’s more trouble than he’s worth.” And often they’ll let you leave then, too.

In one case, my unit had a guy who I’ll call Timmins, and he was a nice guy and all but was unmotivated and clueless and basically of no value to us at all, and why he’d been coached through GMT I cannot imagine (he joined up a few years after me so we weren’t in the same class.) One day, in the middle of a course, my best friend, and Timmins’s superior, sat him down and said “Hey, man, honest question; do you really want to be here? It doesn’t seem like it. If you wanna quite and go do something else, I’ll see to it.” Timmins admitted he wanted to quit, and they literally completed the paperwork that very afternoon, and he was gone. It was best for everyone.

You’d think that would mean people would always try to quit, but it’s really not how it works. It’s a volunteer army and so the people are a self-selecting group. They want to do that job.

Doesn’t happen anymore (IIRC even in WW2 it didn’t) but conscientious objectors in WW1 were forced to attend basic training and subjected to tremendous abuse for refusing to take part:

They stripped me of my own clothing and put the uniform down beside me and said ‘Now you’ve got to put it on’. I said ‘Well, I will not put it on’. ‘Alright, you’ve got to sit there’. I sat there for a day or two and the whole camp was interested. Everybody knew what was going on. Soldiers used to come and say ‘Go on, stick it boy, stick it if it kills you’. The major was very much disliked and I can understand that. I can see what type of person he was. He must have noticed it, because after a day or two suddenly my tent was taken up and taken right up on top of the cliff overlooking the sea. This was in November and it was pretty cold, misty weather. And I was taken up there and my uniform put beside me again by the tent pole, and just to make things worse than ever they rolled the tent walls up so that the wind came right into the tent, all round, and I could sit there and freeze.