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by Ben Huot


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A lot of events happened while I was in the military in a very short time frame. I have been reflecting on them for the last 25 plus years. First of all, the military has its own culture like any country or large organization.

When you come to Basic Training, you are exposed to stress to test your ability to survive in combat. The idea is that everyone comes from their own subculture. To build unity there needs to be an entirely different culture that everyone has to learn from scratch.

Your life basically starts over, as you experience cultural shock. They simulate the shock of being in combat, by shouting and intense physical training, at first. Later, they have the gas chamber, throwing a live grenade, and the final test in Field Training Exercises.

You learn that things happen for no reason and you must follow orders no matter what. There are no other options and there is no time to think. The military uses peer pressure, repetition, and fear to motivate you.

The military trains the enlisted soldiers very similarly to almost any other military. The difference for us is we have more money for longer and more thorough training. As much as our military screws things up (which you never get punished for), we are still the world leaders in logistics. America is the Apple Inc. of the world’s militaries.

The point of basic training from a practical skills level is to teach you what are called combat survival skills. You have to learn how to shoot a rifle, which is designed to be used carefully, so that you only use one bullet per kill. You have to know how to respond to chemical weapons and protect and decontaminate yourself. You learn to stay low and crawl on your belly and how to march, so you know how to move in combat, as safely as possible.

The military made a decision a relatively long time ago that every soldier in the Army is first and foremost an infantry or foot soldier. This means everyone must be trained this way and so this is the purpose of Basic Training. One of the reasons why we win wars so easily is that we have the best technology because we have a virtually unlimited budget.

We also use this money to invest in supporting each foot or infantry soldier on the front lines. This decision means that the difference between a medic and a foot soldier is the medic carries an additional bag of supplies. This applies to every job. There are no desk jobs in the Army.

In the military, they say war is 80% boredom and 20% terror. There is nothing in between. It is like your entire life is Bipolar. You wait in line for hours for everything and they can and do random things unexpectedly, especially with tear gas and to scare you.

You learn to act like everyone else and you aren’t able to express yourself in any way during training. You also are made to feel you only exist because they need a warm body to put into their fancy vehicles. This makes me think of how a kid puts toys soldiers into miniature replicas of combat vehicles.

You are disposable government property and they use a term for that that I will not repeat. Call a Drill Sergeant sir or ma’am and they will say they are not an officer and that they work for a living. This did little for my self esteem, which wasn’t the highest before then anyway. I experienced a deep depression I had never felt before that.

After going through my complete Army training successfully, I have no desire to lead anyone or serve in any leadership. I have no desire to be rich or famous. And I understand and respect the labor movement. I felt very different about these particular things beforehand.

The Army is really serious about these kinds of training. They teach you these skills over and over again, in your free time. You get to go to the gas chamber, prove you can shoot well enough, and get tested to see if you are in good enough physical shape every year. As enlisted, you actually get promoted most by getting college credit.

When I left the military, after a little over a year, I was stationed in Hawaii. Everyone else in my unit asked to leave as well. People who sign up for a second enlistment are very rare and often get paid large bonuses. You basically only get to be a Sergeant if you sign up for another tour.

The Army is the biggest organization that has to be equal opportunity and affirmative action compliant. But the military has a disproportionate representation of people of color as NCOs, and not enough as officers. These laws actually effectively help more white people get promoted to Sergeant.