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?

What kind of discharge do you get if you drop out of basic training? A General discharge, or something worse?

Like RivkahChaya, I joined the USAR in the 1990s. My (second-hand) experience with Soldiers being discharged seems like it was pretty much identical to theirs.

In the U.S. Army, at least, such a Soldier would (eventually) be discharged under Chapter 11, “Failure to Adapt to a Military Environment.” My understanding is that this is generally a General Discharge, but it could be a lower form depending how badly you “fail to adapt.” I think it’s possible to get an Honorable Discharge under Chapter 11, but in practical terms it doesn’t really matter. If you’re discharged during Basic, you won’t have served long enough to qualify for any VA benefits, which is really the only practical difference between a General and an Honorable Discharge.

Also, to the best of my understanding, an NCO, whether a Drill Sergeant or a First Sergeant, cannot separate anyone from service. That would have to be a decision made by a commissioned officer. I have a vague memory that it was typically a board convened by an 0-6 (full Colonel) or above, but I could be way off on that.

It is called an Entry Level Separation, and there are no real negative consequences down the road. It is not considered a bad conduct discharge.

An entry level separation is not a characterized discharge. It isn’t Honorable, Dishonorable, or anything. It’s as if a person never enlisted in the first place. Once they are in for 180 days, then they gain veteran status and are entitled to certain benefits. At that point, their service will be characterized, and they are no longer eligible for an Entry Level Separation.
If a Soldier refuses to train from the very beginning, then the first priority is to motivate the soldier to train. The second priority is to ensure that a service member who cannot be so motivated, is separated before the 180 day mark. What happens in the meantime can vary substantially.

When I enlisted in the late 80’s, I recall that you could back out at any time during the processing phase until you take the oath just prior to boarding the plane to basic training. There were people who washed out of boot camp, some having to stay for periods of time due to medical issues, and others who were disappeared immediately for major infractions or confessed homosexuality. They were mostly given entry-level separations as mentioned above. Most discharges that occurred prior to completing a full tour usually resulted in a General Discharge unless there were other circumstances that warranted a Dishonorable or Bad Conduct Discharge.

Out of the 35 guys in my platoon who started infantry basic training, five dropped out before the four months were over, two for physical reasons and three on “psychological” grounds. That said, only one of them was actually discharged; the remaining four were graduated with lower Rifleman ratings, and were assigned to non-combat positions. Just because you can’t cut it as a infantryman, that doesn’t mean the army can’t find something easier for you to do, and really, if you can’t cope with being an HR clerk or a cook, then you’re probably unemployable for life.

In Aus, when I knew about it, “demanding” to be sent home didn’t get you anywhere. Even in basic training, it’s not that kind of Army.

Separation was possible at the end of basic training. If you decided you didn’t like it, you finished basic, then, if you hadn’t changed your mind again, you left. You could, of course, get thrown out at any time, but it was harder to do that deliberately than to have it happen to you accidentally.

added: actually, dunno about just ‘didn’t get on the bus’. AWOL from boot camp would get you punishment, but AWOL from getting on the bus?

The DoD Instruction I posted above covers dishcarge from the DEP.

My experience in the Army in the 90’s was similar to RivkahChaya’s. Obviously I wasn’t privy to these decisions, but the impression that I got was that if somebody decided that they wanted out in the middle of Basic Training or AIT, the process would take so long that their former classmates would be going home before them. The message that we got was that your best bet was to suck it up and drive on, because quitting was not a quick and easy way out.

I used to command a basic training company.

The key words are “refuses to train.” We can move him to (someplace, I have no idea where) and get him a trainee discharge in less than 48 hours.

The discharge is “uncharacterized,” not honorable nor otherwise. It is like an annulment. The enlistment never happened.

Marine Corps here, and in boot camp we had one guy who wanted out. He talked to me about it and I tried to talk him out of it, telling him to just embrace the suck. But no, he went and asked to be dropped.

The Drill Instructors just made life miserable for him. For awhile. In the end, he graduated with us.

There was this one guy in my company who wanted out. This was, I think, right after the end of Basic Training and at the very start of Advanced Training. We were doing routine maintenance, cleaning our gear and stuff, when he spotted our company XO, a lieutenant, walking past the end of the campground. He ran right up to him and started ranting and insulting him, threatening to beat him up and “go crazy”, while a crowd of nervous trainees gathered around, waiting to see what would happen. It was obvious to us that it was all just theater. We knew the guy was smart, he hadn’t brought his weapon, and with all of his raving and arm waving he was taking care not to actually touch the officer. The XO knew it was theater, too, because he just stood there calmly with his arms folded and a slight smile on his face and let the guy rant for few minutes. When the crowd grew big enough and the trainee stopped for a second to catch his breath, the XO, without saying a word, flicked his eyes at the two biggest soldiers in the company gave them a slight nod. They immediately lept forward, grabbed the ranting soldier by the shoulders and pulled him into his tent, where they sat on him - literally, I think - until the MPs came and took him away.

I guess he got what he wanted, because I never saw him again. I really liked that XO, through.

Question which always occurs to me, finally remembered to ask in a relevant thread…

Why wasn’t the Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket on a bus at the end of said first week? [yeah, they’d have no story] In-universe, was it because the Vietnam war was going on and thus standards were lowered? Recall he was a Marine and thus not drafted (maybe).

I don’t know about during the Viet Nam era.

But earlier during the Korean era my Dad was drafted. Which means called to compulsory service in the DoD as a whole.

While doing the original pre-processing they said there were no USAAF (sic) slots & no USN slots. They had USMC slots open to anyone who volunteered. Anyone not volunteering for USMC was going Army, period.

Bottom line, being in the USMC was voluntary. But being enlisted in the DoD was not. That’s how you get USMC draftees.

Dad volunteered for USMC, did his 2-3 years well and never looked back.

It’s harder to leave the Corps.
They just need a “Few good Men”

I have a nephew who medical’d out. He broke his back on the obstacle course. He stayed in the hospital for longer than it takes most men to graduate Boot.

Actually, 42,633 men were drafted into the Marine Corps during the Vietnam war. [source] I presume Gomer was drafted, because he doesn’t look the type to volunteer.

Yeah, I was wondering about that. Like what happens to someone who is motivated, but maybe not up to the physical standards?

Back in the bad old days of Vietnam, guys in Navy boot camp were not eager to get 86’ed. It was more than likely (we thought) that you’d end up being drafted in short order, as the Army was not at all particular about who they drafted at that point, or be sent over to the MC camp to have some sense beat into you. We only had one guy wash out; he was a sleepwalker, and he began crying during the night. The military is more sensitive to people with problems now than they used to be.

You get a fitness test when you are in-processed. If you don’t pass it, you go to “fitness.” It’s intensive “getting into shape” work. I don’t know exactly what happens there-- I’m pretty sure they know better than to run you so ragged you never recover. They probably alternate strength training and cardio on different days, and also do things like yoga for flexibility. They may even work on balance and coordination, and confidence, with confidence courses, and teambuilding exercises. You probably go on hikes as well, and carry packs, to get ready for what will happen when you graduate fitness.

I’m here to tell you that plenty of people who come out of fitness make great soldiers. We had one who was a platoon leader. She was sharp, and never had to be told anything twice. She didn’t have spectacular scores on her PT tests, but she passed them, and she worked really hard at everything, and never complained. Plus, she could shoot really, really well. I’d be in a foxhole with her any day.

IIRC, average stay in fitness was two weeks. But you got tested every week, so you could potentially get out after one. I think you were allowed to stay for four, before they sent you home as untrainable-- or maybe it depended on how much progress you made.

Almost everyone, even people who didn’t go to fitness, failed the first PT test, and had to work extra on what they failed. I failed the run on purpose, so I could run with the “jog” group. I didn’t know I’d have to run again after supper. So I passed the next one.

The other two components are push-ups and sit-ups. I aced those.

When I was there, to avoid fitness, and woman first had to be able to do a single, correctly executed, push-up. Can’t do one? Fitness. Men had to do six. Then you had to do a small set of situps, again, very minimal, and I don’ remember the amount, but correct execution was key. I’ve forgotten how they tested us on the run. Few women went to fitness for running if they could pass the other two components, because woman who can do push-ups and sit-ups are easier to remediate as runners.

Everyone was a good weight, because you couldn’t get as far as a training station if you were overweight, so no one had weight to lose to be able to run.

People’s run times increased phenomenally over 8 weeks. The first test, which almost everyone failed, only required a score of 50% to pass. It was 55% for the second, 60% for the third, which graduated you to your next training station. You needed 65% to graduate from that station (AIT), and then most permanent stations required 70% to stay in without a waiver. I scored 96% on the test to graduate AIT. You could get a waiver for a test if you’d had certain conditions in the past n months: surgery, pregnancy, injury. Sometimes the whole test got waived; sometimes you score just did-- there was a woman in my company who’d had a baby 11 months and 2 week before one of the tests, and she got a waiver to pass as 60% instead of 70%

As you got older, the standards got easier. There was a woman over 50 in my company who had 22 minutes to run two miles, only had to do 8 push-ups, and IIRC, 16 sit-ups. She power-walked her run and made her time.

I just talked to a friend, and it wasn’t ‘at the end of basic training’ for him. (Australia) There was a definite point at 3 weeks (Army) where you were in or out, and that point was different in the different services.