Army Hazing


Its stories like this that really frustrate me when I hear people talk about “the old Army.”

DETROIT (AP) — A soldier from Michigan who was struck with a large, wooden mallet at his Army base in North Carolina was seriously injured, his father said, expressing anger and shock that the incident was allowed to occur.

Ken Roach of Battle Creek said his son, Sgt. Phillip Roach, was hurt at Fort Bragg during what the Army later called an unauthorized “hazing” event to mark his promotion to sergeant. The 22-year-old knocked his head on the cement after getting hit, causing a seizure and head wound that required six staples, his father said.

Right. Cause that’s the “good ole days.” I hear it sometimes, somebody will say to me that “back in the day, they would just take it outside and settle it like men.” This new pansy Army with all it’s political correctness and sensitivity, they just need to get a case of intestinal fortitude. Right. Cause the old Army just was better.

Come on. This “pansy” Army has sustained combat for well over ten years. All volunteer. I think they’ve proved themselves over and over again to be able to “get it done.” You really want an Army where this kind of hazing is appropriate? Where a senior non-commissioned officer or commissioned officer can just do whatever they want to your child?

I don’t. I want some rules in place. If my children ever want to join the Service of their own free will and volition, I trust that the system in place will not deliberately hurt them without betterment. In other words, I get that Soldering is tough. I get that training has to be realistic, difficult and therefore dangerous. I get that sometimes people are going to get hurt – it’s training for war! I also do not want people to abuse the power and trust invested in them to train our nation’s finest.

I’m sure in this instance, there was no ill intent. I’m sure that there were traditions that are in place that this young Soldier was following. That does not make it right.

War is dangerous enough, our Soldiers are getting hurt in the field enough to allow for senseless traditions for the sake of traditions. Sometimes, this “new Army” is actually an improvement.

Further thoughts:

Last week, I watched my new Chaplain Assistant, MOS 56M, a PFC straight out of AIT take pepper spray to the eyes. It’s part of the training regimen for a Soldier who works in a prison. Here is a young man who wanted to serve his country, signed up for the Army, succeeded at Basic Training, comes to Leavenworth as a CHAPLAIN ASSISTANT and then has to take OC pepper spray in order to do his job.

Here’s how it goes, Soldier stand at the ready, OC pepper spray – spray designed to be so painful that being in contact with it will incapacitate an enraged, fighting individual so that they can be subdued – this 20 year old PFC from Virginia takes  the spray directly to the eyes! Not a wipe across the forehead, not “in the room,” and certainly not on some other part of his body where it would hurt (I speak from experience) – no, he takes it right in his eyes. He then has to complete five actions all related to being in a riot and subduing unruly people. The entire training take him about five minutes. Five minutes of shear agony. It is a hundred times worse than CS gas training or anything like it. It takes him two days to recover, both of which he comes to work and while his eyes are red and he is constantly wiping them, he does not complain.

That is training. That is tough, realistic, hardcore, hooah training. I have no issue with it. In fact, as the individual whom the 56M is supposed to protect, I am glad that I have a Chaplain Assistant who can take that kind of pain and come out swinging. And maintain his professionalism. He didn’t curse, didn’t scream, didn’t lose his cool – just grimaced through the pain with open eyes and completed his mission.

This business of hazing has nothing whatsoever to do with “making hard Soldiers.” Hazing is about the abuse of power over those who are so committed to being “one of the guys” that they take it. It has no place in a professional, all-volunteer force. I meet hardened Soldiers every day, Soldiers who don’t bat an eye at doing the hard parts of their job – but they don’t abuse others.

Hard training makes hard Soldiers.

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