Marine Corps veteran and amateur life coach Jack Mandaville has all the right answers to life’s toughest questions.
I just took command of a battalion that is notoriously one of the most out-of-control units in our entire division. From DUIs to fighting in the barracks, they are a complete mess. How do I restore order?
Lt. Col. C.J. Rocha
Have you tried gaslighting them? It’s honestly the best way to break someone’s spirit and get them to conform to your wants. I say this as someone who has been on the receiving end of some juicy mind games and, because of it, is now a shell of the man he once was.
So that’s what you need to do: gaslight those crazy bastards. Not only will you achieve complete control over them, but they will also lose all sense of who they are. Before you know it, they will be at your fingertips, begging for your approval, pathetically kissing your ass in the hope that you will assuage their tortured egos with breadcrumbs of kindness.
Let’s say, for example, that you have a company commander who you feel is underperforming at his job. You can say things to him like, “My previous company commanders knew what they were doing and listened to me because they actually cared about me.” Or even better, you can bring your old subordinates around and subtly (or blatantly) let your new ones know that you’ll go back to your old ones if they don’t do a good enough job following orders.
The key is emotional manipulation. Call one of your inferiors into your office and show clear signs of disappointment without actually saying anything. Make some huffing and puffing noises, roll your eyes a few times, and keep your lips sealed. Once he picks up on your nonverbal cues, as normal people will do, and asks you what’s wrong, change the tempo and continually say, “It’s nothing. It’s fine.” Keep saying that until both of you are just awkwardly sitting there trying not to suffocate from all the tension in the room. Once he gets up and asks to leave, thinking that maybe it was just a misunderstanding, that’s when you pounce.
“Oh, you’re just going to leave me like everyone else, huh?”
In an extremely passive-aggressive voice, gradually becoming louder, you’ll continue: “What took you so long getting here? Who were you talking to? You want to serve under somebody else, don’t you?! You’re just like my old battalion commander! You don’t care about me!”
Then, as he’s still trying to figure out what the fuck is going on, grab the first reachable thing at your desk and, with tears in your eyes and mascara running down your face, throw it at him as hard as you can.
Thanks to gaslighting, your victim cannot resist his desire to please you. So, instead of walking away, he just stands there trying to explain himself even though he still doesn't understand why you’re angry. The important thing for you to do now is to keep piling on the accusations. Every time he attempts to answer one of your accusations with a truthful and logical answer, you throw another accusation his way. Do this until he is left mentally drained and borderline brain dead from all the chaos that came out of nowhere. He’ll never want to serve under anybody else after you put him through that. I need to go to therapy.
If you’re not the screaming type, don’t worry. I have other methods.
The military has been doing things a certain way for years. Remedial measures like mass punishments, loud ass chewings, loss of pay, and confinement to the barracks for seemingly small offenses have been smothering morale for generations. On the plus side, they create an environment of such extreme pressure that troops will inevitably seek out unhealthy outlets for alleviating their anxieties. How about you reverse it? Instead of blatantly abusing the lower-ranking enlisted members of your unit, shock their systems with bizarre morale-boosting activities.
In a perfect military, everybody would be Mormon and literally nothing sinful would ever happen. But the reality is, you’re dealing with people from New England and Florida. You’ll need to rip the backbones right out of them.
Start by creating Pizza Party Fridays. It’s easy: You order endless pies and have them delivered to the battalion common area. Naturally, the troops will devour the pies, and in doing so become so loaded up on cheese and grease that they’ll go into the weekend lethargic and borderline shitting their pants. Nobody wants to go out and get so drunk that they suckerpunch a stripper when they have a tummy ache and a colon full of diarrhea (aka “The Itis”).
Or what about Facepaint Fridays? You hire a bunch of clowns to come to the barracks and do childish activities like face painting, balloon animals, magic shows, etc. Forcing them to behave like children will weaken their spirits and make them fearful of authority. Furthermore, who's going to pick a fight with a cop in the Denny’s parking lot at 2 a.m. while they have a My Little Pony painting on their cheek?
You might also try a mandatory potluck. All of the lower enlisted have to bring something they made themselves. And since there’s typically no modern cooking amenities in military barracks, you’ll be seeing a smorgasbord of Top Ramen dishes, Armour Vienna sausage spreads, and gas station hot dogs that will be sure to have everybody in full diarrhea mode going into the weekend.
You see, Col. C.J., the days of mass punishment and iron-fisted leadership tactics are over. Exacting physical or financial punishment on a youngster will only go so far. We have entered the age of psychological submission. Mind games are the future of maintaining good order and discipline in the military. They are the answer to your problems.
I hope you get your unit back to where it needs to be: an effective fighting force and not just a ragtag group of baby alcoholics.
I love you,
Jack Manford Mandaville I
Read Next: Dear Jack: I'm Worried About the Showers At Boot Camp
Jack Mandaville is a contributing editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He liked being a Marine, but loves being a civilian that does commentary on military culture because there’s no real sacrifice involved. He’s a satirical writer, entertainer, and amateur provocateur. His only real love outside of his work opportunities is falling asleep to Netflix.
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