Sgt. Ivan Linares, a Marine drill instructor, disciplines one of his recruits using rifle incentive training Sept. 5, 2014, aboard Parris Island, SC. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple.
In the more than 245 years of its existence, the US military has changed a lot. While uniforms and equipment are constantly being updated or mothballed, one thing has stayed unshakably the same: Privates are still idiots.
Even in 1775, sergeants were likely smoking the hardtack out of privates for classic screw-ups like showing up to morning formation drunk and without a musket.
Militaries using so-called “incentive training,” aka the good old smoke session, to correct action is a tactic as old as war itself, and while it may be falling out of favor in some parts of today’s military, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide some creative “corrective actions” that discerning small-unit leaders can use to sweat the stupid out of wayward boots.
Disclaimer: Some of these are likely no longer authorized, so maybe don’t use those. *exaggerated wink*
Three days into a weeklong field exercise, you catch one of the new privates rat-fucking the platoon’s MRE stash. While it might sound tempting to force him to eat every Veggie Omelet MRE in the box and then do a burpee for every calorie in the bag of Skittles he just pocketed, a better option is to have Pvt. Fatty Cakes go outside and Koala-fy.
Koala-fication is relatively simple (for the punisher) and miserable for the punished. It involves having Fatty Cakes latch onto a tree trunk upside down and hold on for as long as he can. When he unlatches, have him get back on. Repeat until a satisfactory level of misery is achieved. Bonus points if he pukes. If he pukes but doesn’t let go of the tree, reward him with a Chili-Mac MRE.
It’s 3 a.m., and one of your privates is more smashed than pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. and trying to get on base without his ID card. After the MPs call you to pick him up, you learn he left his ID card, his wallet, a pencil, his cousin, and his PT belt at the strip club. Every fiber of your being is screaming to smoke this Joe until he barfs up all the cheap booze and glitter he’s been inhaling all night, but you have to keep your cool. Smoke him too hard and he might make a YouTube video about it and have you canceled.
When Pvt. Fantasia Sugar-Thighs is having a hard time keeping track of his inspectable items, have him secure them to his person with 550 cord. Each and every item that has the potential to fall off should be individually tied to his belt. His glasses, wallet, ID card, common sense, keys, pens and pencils, notebook, and even his watch should all be secured to his belt via improvised retention lanyards to ensure they don’t go missing again.
Spc. Shamshield informs you he has a dental appointment Friday afternoon that might take up the rest of the day. Since the young soldier has a set of chompers that looks like 16 different Chiclets hot-glued to his gums, you call bullshit and swing by DENTAC to find, unsurprisingly, he is not where he’s supposed to be. When you find him watching hentai in his barracks room, resist the urge to smoke him so hard his offspring are born exhausted. Use our method instead.
Success in the Army is all but guaranteed to the junior enlisted member who can be at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform. Your Joe is having trouble with this, so help him out with a detailed schedule for guidance. It should look something like this.
0600 — PT Field — Winter PTs
0830 — Chow Hall — Full Battle Rattle with 8-ounce rubber ducky in left cargo pocket.
0930 — Place of Duty — Standard Uniform
0933 — Place of Duty — Civilian Clothes
0936 — Place of Duty — Standard Uniform
1100 — Outside First Sergeant’s Office — Summer PTs with a copy of Us Weekly and an Iced Capp from Tim Hortons.
You get the idea.
Pfc. Hugh Janus was so busy dancing to TikTok videos that he missed rendering a salute to a commissioned officer. The major didn’t notice, but good old Top did. He’s instructed you to square your soldier away. How do you proceed? Classic wisdom says to pull his spine out and crack it like a bullwhip, but that’s frowned upon in today’s Army.
Try a scavenger hunt. Create a checklist of officers for the boot to go out and salute. Five is plenty. Make it difficult. He needs to find a lieutenant who isn’t lost, one who is, a captain who isn’t piggybacking off of what the first sergeant just said, a major who isn’t at his desk, and a lieutenant colonel who wasn’t given a Bronze Star just for deploying. It should take him some time, and he’ll learn a very valuable lesson along the way. Be sure to have him stop for a box of chem-light batteries on the way back.
One of your privates just caught a bad case of Tiny Heart Syndrome (THS) and decided he needs to get on profile. Understand that a soldier’s medical limitations should always be respected and THS affects hundreds of privates who can’t pass their PT test every year in the Army. Pvt. Jonathan Brokdik shuffles around in his soft shoes day in and day out, closely clutching his full body profile. He regularly misses PT, field-training exercises, and anything involving physical labor. His physical conditioning is suffering, and you need to find a way to keep this Joe fit until he recovers.
Even a completely limiting profile isn’t completely limiting. Can the soldier blink? Can he move his face? How about talk? If he can do any of those, you’re in business. Start with four sets of 50 blinks. Move onto an antagonistic superset of surprised eyebrows to angry eyebrows. Transition into lower face for 10 sets of 10 smileys with a finisher set of 100 straight frownies. Close out the workout with a whole face circuit consisting of nose crunches, nostril flares, squints, and tongue wiggles. Repeat daily until THS symptoms clear and your soldier can return to regular duty.
Eric Miller is a former Army Combat Medic from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.
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