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Posted: 3/13/2001 7:31:57 PM EDT
Fellow called into the local talk radio show today and made a statement to the effect that:

In current US Army basic training recruits are given a "Stress Card", when for instance, a Drill Sargeant is getting in the face of the recruit in a major way, and the recruit wants a time out, all he has to do is wave the card.

Is this true?  If so what's the scoop on this?

Link Posted: 3/13/2001 7:53:33 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/13/2001 8:02:34 PM EDT
I spent the summers of 1999 and 2000 at Ft. Benning for Basic and AIT.(I was a National Guard split-option)  I never saw stress cards, but heard they were used at other posts like Ft. Jackson and some others, but I doubt if it was true.  It wasn't easy while I was there, but going back for AIT, there were a lot of changes and I'm sure I had it much easier than those who went through 10 years ago or more.
Link Posted: 3/13/2001 8:06:26 PM EDT
It is no urban legend. Part of the new "feminized" basic training philosophy of the Army had them experiment with a stress card during basic training at Fort Jackson (maybe others) about 5 years ago. It was a pathetic joke and thankfully was laughed out of use quickly. Now if we can just get rid of the whiny girls in boot camp... seriously, the feminization of our military has severely damaged our military capability, readiness, and morale.
Link Posted: 3/13/2001 8:07:02 PM EDT
I completed my Army Basic in 93' and we didn't have it. New soldiers coming to the unit in '95 were talking about it. It is part of some 'Kinder-Gentler Army' program. There was also mixed male/famale basic training being tried about the same time.

When I got to Leanerd Wood for AIT we shared barraks with females. But there was no females allowed in my permanent party, Cavalry unit(1,200 personal).  

That's bout the only info I have on it.
Link Posted: 3/14/2001 9:51:13 AM EDT
Thanks for the replies, but a question occurs to me.

When I heard this it brought to mind the luxurious island getaway provided me by my Uncle Sam the summer of ’73 at a little garden spot just outside Beaufort South Carolina.  This thinking raised some questions in my mind, as to how you would implement the use of a “Stress Card”.  I wondered what the rules of use, the etiquette, if you will, for using it would be?  One instance of my experience raised a question in my mind.

Before my question, a little background for the young and/or uninitiated.

At the time of my “Fantasy Island” vacation my uncle provided all his nephews with a number of party favors to enhance the experience, some of which were only on loan.  One very important one was an M14 rifle.  Since these were very fine and expensive examples of the gunsmiths art, and very dear to my uncle, we were expected to take good care of them and certainly not lose them while playing in the sand or water, or under any circumstances.  If ever your rifle was to turn up missing you were required to report it immediately to your Drill Instructor.

Since no one was expected to juggle an M14 and a chow tray, before going to indulge in the gourmet repast we would all gather in our assigned squadbay (a long [about 40 yards] low ceilinged concrete room with 60 or 70 bunk beds [called racks] arrayed in two single rows in front of the windows along each side of the long sides of this hall like room) to lock our rifles to our racks.

Locking up your rifle was accomplished by passing a short piece of chain (covered with soft plastic tubing) around/through the welded steel frame of your rack, and using a cheap combination lock (same as a kid would use on his gym locker) pass the hasp of the lock through the two ends of the chain and the metal tab (it has a small hole for this purpose) that is the safety on an M14, locking it all together.  This tab is located at the front of the trigger guard, and passes back and forth through a slot in the front of the trigger guard.  When it is inside the rifle is on safe and when pushed forward through the trigger guard it is off safe.

(Break for character count)
Link Posted: 3/14/2001 9:52:13 AM EDT
Everything done in Marine Corps Boot Camp is done at warp speed.  And since everyone is in a hurry to see what new thrill awaits, sometimes in the rush a private will make a mistake.  Such as locking up his rifle through the trigger guard and not the safety tab.  This is a problem, as the first step in disassembling an M14 is to grasp the rear of the trigger guard and pushing forward and pulling down, disengage it and lever it down.  This allows separation of the trigger group, the receiver group and the stock, and possible theft of the rifle.  This kind of mistake was frowned upon by the Drill Instructors.

The practice was that as everyone was forming up outside for the march to the mess hall the Drill Instructor would assign a couple privates (one for each row of bunkbeds) to check that each rifle was properly secured.  If one was found improperly locked up the private would point this out to the Drill Instructor.  The Drill Instructor being the kindly sort (as they all are), and not wanting to delay the gourmet repast of the private that failed to properly secure his rifle by making him come all the way back upstairs to do it right, would just pop the trigger guard disassemble the rifle into it’s three main groups and store them in the Drill Instructors hootch (room).  Upon returning the erring private would find his chain and lock secured to his rack, but no rifle.  He would then have to go to the Drill Instructor to report his missing rifle to get it back.

Losing your rifle was a serious no-no.  Now fortunately the private’s rifle wasn’t stolen, but it could have been.  The Drill Instructor would want us all to think about this.  To do this effectively the DI would ask us to lay down and think about it.  We would all lay down on our backs, raise our combat boot shod feet 6 inches off the concrete deck (and hold them there) and think about it while the DI gave a long talk about doing things right and taking good care of uncle’s property.  Although this was good for us intellectually it was tough on a tummy full of Uncle Sam’s gourmet vittles.

One private (let’s call him Gomer) in our training platoon had the unfortunate habit of not properly securing his rifle.  On this particular occasion, that comes to mind, Gomer came back from chow to find, much to his chagrin for the umpteenth time, his chain and lock but no rifle.  Gomer proceeds to double time it up to the Drill Instructor, who is standing behind his little table/desk at the other end of the squadbay, to report his rifle missing.

From my vantagepoint standing at attention on line about even with the DI, I can see that the DI is holding Gomers brown fiberglass stock (much harder and heavier than wood) by the foregrip behind his back.  When Gomer locks up at attention and reports his rifle missing the DI says something to the effect of; “Really?  Is this it?” and proceeds to bring the fat end of the stock smartly into contact with the side of Gomer’s head.  Gomer recoils a step and the DI comes around his little table/desk and backs Gomer up, down about 25 yards of squadbay all the while beating him severely about the head and shoulders with the stock.

Now for my question:
In the situation of simultaneously backing up and being beaten severely about the head and shoulders with a fiberglass M14 stock, one could easily imagine dropping one’s “Stress Card”.  What would be the proper thing to do?  Back up in a circle and scoop it up on the next pass?  Stick out your
Link Posted: 3/14/2001 10:02:52 AM EDT
Recruit TrickyVic I am disappointed in you!!!

Everyone know that current boot camp issue includes a 30 round, high capacity, Time-Out-Card Feeding Device.  If the first Time-Out card misses the target, you have 29 others to go.

Of course, this does not apply to civilian life where high capacity Time-Out card feeding devices are illegal.  Everyone knows that all these devices are POST-BAN as they were NEVER issued prior to the ban.

Drop and give me 20, Recruit Tricky Vic!!
Link Posted: 3/14/2001 11:15:27 PM EDT
OK! I dropped 20 and 1 nut (these days I'm about twice the man I was in boot camp).

I really expected more than one smart remark.
Link Posted: 3/15/2001 3:33:52 AM EDT
The more you sweat in peace the less you bleed in war. Any attempt to bypass this fact will lead to lost lives. Seems like this card is of the "Klinton" era.
Link Posted: 3/15/2001 4:59:42 AM EDT
I was at benning the summer of 2000 for basic and ait for infantry (11B).  We sure as hell didn't have stress cards, but we did run into some people who did.  If I remember correctly I think they were engineers, or drivers or something like that. Some soft skill MOS anyway.  

It sounds like they had it easy though.  They were pissed becuase they didn't get to eat cake and desert until their second week of basic.  I was almost done with everything then, and I just said cake, whats that?  Some have it easy, others not quite as much....
Link Posted: 3/15/2001 5:59:39 AM EDT
Benning 89  for Infantry training, sucked, hotter than hell, tough DI's  No cards though.  Just a lot of yelling, sweating, and little sleep.  
Link Posted: 3/15/2001 6:18:41 AM EDT
I went to Jackson in 82. No such animal then. Never even heard about it till now.
Maybe they will make "The Crying Game" part of the indoctrination program.
Link Posted: 3/15/2001 6:39:02 PM EDT
TrickyVic, your gyrene experience in '73 sounds about like my Army experience at Ft Dix in '70. Now lets not get into the Army/Marine shit, but we went to the college of hard knocks, to prepare for hard times. Never heard of the "stress cards" before your post, but Nikes, instead of combat boots, "lower the bar" for the lames who couldn't get over the wall, four "person" stretcher carry drills, sensitivity training, and other sundry assorted p.c. bullshit makes it more imperative than ever that us "civilians" are as well armed as the "armed forces", cause I really have my doubts about their ability to defend the homeland, if need be. I hope I'm wrong.
Link Posted: 3/15/2001 7:24:42 PM EDT
I was at Ft Jackson, summer of 1990.  

Basic training Co B, 4th Bn, 13th Inf Reg. housed in the then new  Starship barracks.  Which are at the base of tank hill (sorta)

AIT with Co D, 277th, (roach infested barracks)  Unit Supply Specialist

Never heard of the cards before today.

Link Posted: 3/15/2001 8:03:43 PM EDT
I really have my doubts about their ability to defend the homeland, if need be. I hope I'm wrong.
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Thanks for the reply oldeschool.  I hope you won't think I'm spliting hairs here, but I have to comment.  First Dustdevil had it exactly right:
The more you sweat in peace the less you bleed in war.

If you're saying what I think you're saying, you're exactly right also.  Every citizen of our beloved country ought to be prepared both mentally and physically to defend our Constitution, our country, and our fellow citizens.  I'm not ashamed to say it, "I love my country".  As flawed as it may be, even with as many things as I think need fixing, it is the best that human head and heart has been able to fashion in all of recorded history.  It is worth defending.

You're right about the training too.  To do a tough job and have a reasonable expectation of coming back alive requires tough training.

Where I have some disagreement with you is that I have faith in the young men in our armed forces.  I beleive that if they actually found themselves on the pointy end, that many if not most, would rise to the occasion.  What breaks my heart is the number that would have to die, needlessly, because the powers that be have failed them by not providing the proper training and preparation.

The fault lies at the highest levels.  The Pentagon is full of managers not leaders.  Ask this question.  Which is more likely to get you a promotion in today's military, an MBA or a Combat Infantyman's Badge.

Look at the current flap over berets.  Clearly a case of PR and style over substance.  Managers not leaders think this way.

I think I could make a good argument that the rule ought to be that no one makes flag grade without having made their bones.  I mean having stood toe to toe with the enemy and shoved the steel home.  If they have not come back with the gore ground into their uniform, in defense of our country, then they don't have the moral authority to send other men in harm's way.

I think that if we had a Pentagon full of blooded commanders, real leaders, we would be less likely to see the disgrace of our dead soldiers being drug naked through the village streets by laughing recipients of our country's largess, as we did in Somalia.  Any body else remember seeing that on the evening news?
Link Posted: 3/16/2001 8:18:50 AM EDT
While I never went to Army Basic Training, as a young Marine Corps Tanker I attended the Armor Basic Crewman Course at Fort Knox.  This would have to be in the Winter of 1985.  Although we had our own Marine training Company, we had a good view of Army Basic Training, especially since they moved a bunch of fresh Army recruits into the barracks next door.  Here is what I observed:

1. Fat, out of shape, Drill Sergeants slouching around, smoking and cutiing up in front of the recruits.

2. Maximum of 10 punishment pushups allowed at any time.

3. Lack of discipline "after hours."  Since the barracks was split in two down the middle on all four floors, we could pretty much hear everything going on.  After 6:00 PM or so the Army recruits were apparently on their own.   Sounded like a bunch of kids on a school trip.  

4. Lack of spit-and-polish.  Irons and boot brushes not in widespread use.

5. Very low physical fitness standards.  

6. Liberty available in boot camp, for crying out loud.  These were not AIT soldiers, these were recruits.  Saw them regularly at the PX and at the little gedunk around the Disney barracks area.

You get the picture.  Compare this to Marine Corps boot camp.  Not to mention Marine Corps "AIT," that is, the School of Infantry.

This was at the height of the Cold War, by the way.  Can it have gotten anything but worse?
Link Posted: 3/16/2001 9:59:52 AM EDT
I attended Knox Basic in 1993 and...

1) Never wtnessed any fat, out of shape drill Sgt's.

2) That non-practiced, 10 push-up rule is not even followed at 'permanant party'. You push until they tell you you're tired. There is no limit in basic or regular.

3) "On their own?" Never. Noise discipline was always practiced, and there are on-duty Drill NCO's making sure of it. You better be in your rack. I can't even remember being in the barracks before 10:00pm.   6pm???

4) Spit-shine was a must, even in my regular duty Cavalry unit. While in basc at Knox, we had to have our uniforms pressed by a business in Radcliff. There were certain days they would make uniform pick-ups. There are no irons or hair clippers allwed in Army BT. Nothing not issued by Uncle Sam.

5) As far as phisical fitness goes, I could say the same of all branches. There is not enough being done. If I could max the Army standards, I'm sure I could at least pass the Marine's. I practice regular PT now, even after being out for 4 yrs.  

I spent 3 years in Ft. Stewert's 3/7 Cav. We had a 4-6-4 run schedule. 4 miles Monday, 6 Wednesday, 4 Friday. Tuesdays & Thursdays were used for grass drills and upper body conditioning. I enjoyed PT, but most didn't.

6) Liberty????? What?????? I never even seen the Ft. Knox PX the entire time I was there. You got an hour on Sunday if you wished to attend Church services, otherwise you were 'locked-down' in the barracks, for that hour.

I don't know what kind of unit you saw in training, perhaps it was the Army Band or something. I do know that when I was sent to Ft. Dix for operation 'Joint Endever', the only branch that practiced daily PT was the Army. All branches were tomporarilly stationed there. I remember guys saying, "Man, I wish I was in the Marines. No running".  [b]SCOUTS OUT![/b]
Link Posted: 3/16/2001 10:43:16 AM EDT
I'm glad to here that the Army was "tightened up" from what I saw back in 1985.  Maybe you guys were still on the tail end of the Carter years back then.

As for PT, well, I don't think any of the services have higher standards than the Marines.  Currently, to score a perfect 300 on the PFT requires an 18 minute 3-mile run, 80 sit-ups in two minutes, and 20 pull-ups.  As a young Marine Infantryman I seldom scored below a 270 and was made fun of for scoring so low.  (Pull-ups have always been hard for me. One pull-up equals five points.)

(I reenlisted for the Infantry from tanks, by the way)

I also continue to run PT even though I have been out for almost 10 years.  I am, however, a pale shadow of my former self.  I can barely break 24 minutes on a three-mile run, I haven't done a sit-up in eight years, and I don't think I could do 10 pull-ups if my life depended on it.  Blame it on marriage, kids,  and a desk job!
Link Posted: 3/16/2001 11:55:46 AM EDT
To the max the Army PFT(300pts) in the 17-21 age group, you have to run 2 miles in 10:54 minutes,do 82 correct pushups in 2 minutes, and 92 or 94 situps in 2 minutes. We do pull-ups in PT but are not tested on it. I was at Ft. Jackson in 93, in the old WII barracks by Tank Hill, and there were no stress cards, I lost 60 pounds in 2 months.
Link Posted: 3/16/2001 1:57:55 PM EDT
I went through army basic training at Ft. Bliss, Texas, 1983.  I couldn't write a response to GUS LASKARIS any better than KEVIN N did as to what I experienced in my basic training, and how unusual GUS LASKARIS' account of Army basic training sounds.

Of course this is not the first thread about military experience, and I'm skeptical to say the least as I read in some of these accounts how "lacking" another service's training supposedly was.  

This is an electronic, written forum.  Beyond a few, we're all faceless.  The end result is someone posts, and who's to refute what is written beyond anything other than more words.  

I have yet to feel the need to compare the level/difficulty of training that I've received to anyone, whether they be in another branch, another country's military, or civilian.  

The training that I've received and the level of discipline that's been instilled by it would allow me excel in any of these sectors, just as I have in the Army.

Link Posted: 3/16/2001 2:33:25 PM EDT
Well, the following things at the base I am at stationed at:

Recruits (trainees) can go to the PX in large groups, they are not supervised when they are there.  It is kind of a pain in the ass really, there are so many of them running around.

Recruits are allowed to go to the recruit PX, where they are allowed to eat "Anthony's Pizza" and "Taco Bell" at their leisure.

Recruits on light duty status (wearing running shoes) are allowed to go to the PX on pass.  You see entire squads of broken recruits at the PX about every day.  Saturdays are the worse.  This is especially appalling to the Marines, Our question is if they are so broken they cannot wear boots what are they doing out of the rack.

The Sunday prior to graduation the recruits are allowed to go to the Mall out in town, to allow them to shop, "unwind."

Recruits are not supervised 100 percent of the time, I saw some recruits at a shoppette buying cokes, candy, etc., their DS was sitting in the van out in parking lot.

The army makes a point of how well their logistics work to get recruits home for Christmas holidays.  The Marine Corps on the other hand will let them sleep a half hour later on Christmas and Thanksgiving Day, they get a special meal, but they will train over the holidays. Additionally recruits are not allowed to wear the entire unifrom until they are formally titled Marines

The army recently lowered the standards for junior soldiers for PT and raised them for older soliders.  The reason for this where too few recruits could make the standards.

Most older/senior soldiers I know are displeased with the quality of the junior soldiers coming in.  There are still a lot of good ones out there, but a lot should not have been enlisted. We (officers) have the same problems with the quality of junior officers, too many Lts are here to pay back their education and get out.  They perform to the minimum with no desire to excel, this attitude is especially bad with USMA grads.

I have been told these problems are systemic in the US army today.  At all recruit training bases and with all branches.
Link Posted: 3/16/2001 6:14:10 PM EDT
The more you sweat in peace the less you bleed in war.
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Not strictly true on an individual basis, but on a unit basis, definitely so.

If you're saying what I think you're saying, you're exactly right also. ... I'm not ashamed to say it, "I love my country".
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Yes, indeed. Despite the fact that draft dodger scum like Klintoon get elected and spend 8 years "paying out" the military for making them feel guilty.

Where I have some disagreement with you is that I have faith in the young men in our armed forces. I beleive that if they actually found themselves on the pointy end, that many if not most, would rise to the occasion.
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I agree with you 200% Despite the media's chronic hand wringing over the moral decay of the youth, most would stand up. I used to be a punk in my youth too, never did a drive buy or sold drugs, but was what they called a 'j.d.'
(altho never caught for it) Rudest awakening and best thing that ever happened to me was hearing the drill sargeant's first scream of
"get your long haired faggot ass off the bus and fall in asshohle!!" Now, it would probably go something like "Hi guys, would you please get off the bus and put your toes on this white line out here? Thanks. Gee, your hair looks a little long, I think maybe you should think about getting a haircut. Are we ok with that?"

What breaks my heart is the number that would have to die, needlessly, because the powers that be have failed them by not providing the proper training and preparation.

The fault lies at the highest levels.
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You got that right!!!

I think that if we had a Pentagon full of blooded commanders, real leaders, we would be less likely to see the disgrace of our dead soldiers being drug naked through the village streets by laughing recipients of our country's largess, as we did in Somalia.
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Gotta disagree with your here TrickyVic. I'd bet that the commanders were chewing their rugs when the saw that shit and demanding nuclear strikes. Unfortunately, we had a lame ass, cradle robbing, pardon selling, draft dodging piece of shit for a Commander in Chief at the time.

Link Posted: 3/16/2001 8:15:49 PM EDT
I don't mean to bust on the Army (well, maybe a little) but there is some objective standard of military training.  Some is harder than others, and, all other things being equal, harder training is better training.

I know Airmen who swear up-and-down that Air Force basic training is the hardest thing imaginable.  I think it's because they can't imagine really hard basic training. Or to put it another way, if you've spent your childhood sleeping 'til 9 AM, anything that makes you get up befor six will seem incredibly tough.  Likewise, if you are a young punk used to mouthing off to authority, any system that makes you obey authority will seem exceedingly cruel.

These are subjective standards.

Now, I read in the newspapers that Army basic training is co-ed, and that upwards of 30 percent of the Army is female. I also read that the Army surrendered early to feminization under Clinton, instituting such things as "sensitivity training."

What gives?  They can talk tough, but apparently the they are not very serious about being hard-chargers.  Or can caring, sensitive soldiers also rip the enemy's intestines out when the action goes hand-to-hand?  There seems to be a contradiction here.

Apparently, to an outside observer, in order to get real military discipline in the Army you have to try out for the Rangers or Airborne.  You certainly won't get it in the regular Army.

Look at it from a Marine's point of view.  The Army talks about how tought their training is, but they let their recruits make phone calls, smoke, use the PX, drink soda, eat gedunk, and even go on leave during basic training.  If that's tough basic training then what adjective can you use to describe the real thing?
Link Posted: 3/16/2001 9:13:11 PM EDT
Gus, I have no beef with you about the current state of the Army. Don't know for sure about the current state of basic training other than what I read and hear about. My Army basic training, 30 some years ago, was "oldschool", march or die, no slack. I'm sure that some of the Korean War or WW2 guys would say it was a pale pussified shadow of what it used to be, but it sure as hell was much different than what I hear about now. As far as Marines v. Army? Well, don't want to relive the rivalries of my youth - what's the point of exchanging "jarhead/army puke" barbs?, so suffice it to say that for now, Marines are still "old school" (sorry for the shameless plugs [:D]}, and hopefully always will be. Hopefully the Army will see the error of its ways and regain its former glory.
Link Posted: 3/17/2001 1:39:34 AM EDT
It was never my intent to compare service branches.  They each do different jobs and they train to the requirements.  If the course is traing "lite", then it is not the recruit's fault.  The mistakes are made at the top and the price will be paid in blood by the people at the bottom.

If you want to talk tough training lets hear from some Rangers, SEALs, or Force Recon people.  Hopefully these programs have not been tainted by the push to be PC.  The problem is these few cannot win a war by themselves.

To win we will always have to have high quality soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines on the line.  To have this we've got to have leaders in charge, and that is what we're real short on.

Can you imagine the results, if you had a time traveling space ship.  You could cruise on over to the Pentagon snatch up one of them Sun Tzu quotein', Harvard MBAs in a uniform, then haul 'em back to Bastougne (sp) slap his ass down and say let's see you manage your way out of the Bulge?  Or set him down on a hill side on Guadal Canal (my father was there) to watch the fleet disappear over the horizon, whoops!  Being able to pitch a really mean Power Point presentation won't cut it under those circumstances.

A huge chunk of our tax dollar goes to defense.  We ain't gettin' our money's worth, and the price that our young people will pay in blood is unacceptable.

Thanks for listening.
Link Posted: 3/17/2001 5:31:48 AM EDT
I was in Army Basic Training during the mid 80s at Ft Leonardwoood, Missouri and it was far from a pleasant experience.  We were up well before 6, usually closer 5, ran 2-3 miles, ate nasty grub and typically played in the dirt all day.  It was -20 during of Basic Training field experience and several recruits got hypothermia, even with our winter gear.  Six weeks later is was +90 degrees and we assembled a Baily Bridge (steel bridge) in MOPP Level 4 (Full Bio/Nuclear Gear), where some recruits experienced heat exhaustion and similar illnesses.  A number of recruits got hurt and hospitalized during traing, including one recruit in another Company turned his M-16 on himself during range fire and commited suicide.  Anytime you have this type of training and equipment there is a high degree of risk, so with this being said, I don't think that Basic Training can be watered down too much.
Link Posted: 3/17/2001 4:23:56 PM EDT
FNFalGuy, your basic experience sounded very similar to mine, except it was 90+ degrees every day (good climate conditioning considering where we were going). Mid 80's you say? Didn't start reading the stomach churning stories of the pussification of Army basic til the mid 90's. Klintoon corruption times - girls not only in basic but assigned to combat arms, Nikes instead of combat boots for the running and marching, sensitivity training, p.c. emasculation of the Army. Klintoon's revenge. Considering how much the media loved the bastard Klintoon, don't believe they were trying to do a hatchet job on him - probably approved of the whole thing. Any guys out there who went through Army basic the last 3 or 4 years have any comments on that?
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