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?

How does that work? According to the web site, the limit for the Army is 35.

It also says the required time for a 2-mile run for 22-26 year olds is 17:30. I feel like even at 47 I could probably do that with a bit more training. And I’m not particularly fast or athletic. I’ve just been running a lot since I’m unemployed and don’t have anything else to do.

US Army, mid 90s through very early 00s.

Dept. of The Army, in the late 90s or possibly early 2000 changed up the PT standards to make it so that it got tougher as you got older. They realized that mid-career soldiers were acclimated to higher standards when younger and were still physically capable, more so, than younger soldiers. Age 40, I think, is when PT standards sharply dropped. Reasoning being, height of your career, busy doing admin stuff or whatever, age as well, maybe you’re no longer as capable physically.

End of hijack

When I went into basic, the speech we were given was this. Pack all your issue stuff in your duffle bags, leave them in your locker and just walk away. Of course what they didn’t say directly, but hinted at was, that wearing any of the uniforms would leave you open to charges of theft and since at that point they’d already taken away all our civilian stuff and locked it away…
There were a couple of people from the other platoon who did just that. Never knew what happened to them other than they were just gone one morning at reveille.

The limit for joining with no prior experience is 35. But you can stay in until you can’t

I thought that was basically going AWOL and was actually considered a crime? Or was the assumption that at least they were no longer the drill sergeants problem at that point?

Basically that. Once they’ve arrived at boot camp, they will have to go through the process for someone who has failed to meet standards. There is no “bell” like in say, SEAL training, no mechanism to just say “I quit and wanna go home” directly (and to be clear, ringing that bell doesn’t get would-be SEALs sent “home” either, it just ends their SEAL training and they’re probably going somewhere else within the Navy in very short order). Getting off the bus at basic training and saying “I want to go home now” often enough and refusing to complete training would, however, demonstrate a failure to meet standards and lead to, as others have noted, an Entry Level Separation (which doesn’t mean much… unless you want to try and join the miIitary again—good luck with that, because it’s almost certainly not going to happen).

Support for the “not necessarily quickly” claim (from the Navy, at least, and described in its official Recruit Training Command FAQ):

There’s paper work involved, you know? And if there’s one thing the military is good at, it’s taking a long time to do paper work. also, there’s money: on the one hand, they do have to pay you for showing up and “working” for however many days you spend in the military. On the other, they need to arrange travel home (or at least back to where you came from), can’t just boot you to the curb and say “good riddance,” even if it’s what you and the people handling the paperwork would really prefer. Bureaucracy for the win!

And really, if they teach a recruit nothing else this is a life skill most people need to learn anyway. A person can accept a defeat, but running away never ends.

Eh… maybe. But the military can be a really lousy place for self-discovery, particularly if you’re not cut out for it. Maybe a better lesson is “If you find you’re not well-suited to a line of work, consider looking elsewhere”?

Because just falling in line and following the leader never ends, either, if you want to play it that way.

In context, “Suck it up and drive on” was the recommended strategy for getting through Basic, even if one’s intent is to pop smoke immediately afterward. The ability to do something unpleasant, but not inhumanly so, for a specific period of time is different from an endless game of “follow the leader” (which is rather an unnecessarily degrading characterization of successful military career mindset if you ask me), and is a good skill even for civilians. Especially in 2020.

If you have phrased your position in such a way that no one can disagree with you…

I recall while in basic there was a “rainbow” (someone still wearing civilian clothes who hadn’t gotten the haircut or been issued clothes and gear yet) who was being yelled at in the chow hall by a female drill instructor to stand at attention. He was standing up straight but did not have his heels together. She kept telling him to stand at attention and kicked at his feet. Eventually, he got sick of the abuse and uttered “F*** off you little b****”. He was immediately surrounded by all the other drill instructors present and was never seen again.

I don’t know what actually happened, msmith357. I only know what we were told. Yes normally it is awol and eventually desertion, but new recruits still in basic are, or were treated differently in regards to those charges at that time.

I’m not getting something. Did I do a faux pas?

“McNamara’s Morons” was a thing during the Vietnam era - inducting people who definitely wouldn’t have made it if the standards were higher. I started a thread about it a while back, when I heard about it.

One of the reasons that the Army loves people who actually have a college degree, over people who have tons of credits, but never finished, is that anyone who completed a degree has learned that there are always going to be little things you really don’t want to do, but must do, in order to accomplish a larger goal. In other words, you might major in English, but you still have to take some math and science classes, and vice-versa. People who fail out of college rarely do so in their majors classes. It’s the French major who can’t pass calculus, or the chemistry major who can’t pass freshman composition who falls out.

There were some people in my AIT unit who were in the military for the GI bill, but I could tell they weren’t going to make it through college unless they had a logarithmic leap in maturity, because this concept eluded them. They got into shouting matches with platoon leaders over doing CQ duty, even though you were allowed to sleep through morning formation when you did.

When I was in basic training in the US Air Force towards the end of the 1980s, anyone who wanted out was released without much fuss.

We had a few fellows who decided they’d made a mistake in joining up. They talked to the training instructor in charge of our flight. After a couple of days to get the paperwork done, they were gone - on their way home.

We did have one fellow, though, who straight up threw a fit and demanded to be sent home at once. I don’t know what all went on after he was taken out of our dorm, but I do know he spent most of the following month in a small room attached to the orderly room in the squadron headquarters.

When the other guys were released, they were gone and no longer part of our flight.

The guy who threw a fit remained a part of our flight, and had to be accounted for at every roll call or other function that dealt with trainees by name.

As I remember, he was sent home about the time our flight graduated from basic training.

We had another fellow who had some skill or ability that the Air Force wanted. Smart fella, unfortunately built like an egg or a pear.

He failed the confidence course (what the Army calls an obstacle course) and was moved into our flight (we had started a few days after his original flight) to re-take the confidence course.

He failed it again. And again.

We saw him several times over the next week. Each time carrying his duffle bag to the dorm of a different flight.

I know he eventually graduated, but I don’t know how many times he repeated the confidence course before he made it through.

Huh, I never knew any of this. I am now thinking back to what happened to one of my close HS friends - he joined the Army not terribly long after high school, but was home within a few weeks. Super-smart guy (he failed AP Calc because the teacher wanted him to show his work, but he did it in his head), near-perfect SATs, in good shape, but I am guessing Army life wasn’t for him. It’s really too bad, because he never did finish college due to a giant pile of family drama. The GI Bill would have been a life-changing thing for him. Someday I should ask him about it again - at the time we were all mystified that nobody ever came and dragged him back to Basic.

Maybe don’t.

At what point did the Marines start taking draftees though? Boot camp in “Full Metal Jacket” is in 1967.

It’s absolutely possible someone like Lawrence/Gomer would have volunteered. Hundred percent possible. You’d be surprised how many people volunteer who seem shockingly unsuited to it.

The opening scene made it pretty clear that he came in thinking he’d get a chance to play dress up as a soldier. Hartman quickly disabused him of that notion.

Eh, the right moment may or may not ever come up. He’s a very close friend, and this is something that happened now 30 or so years ago.