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BURAWSKI
09-26-2013, 02:01 AM
http://www.navytimes.com/article/20130925/NEWS/309250020/Training-boss-Forcing-recruits-sing-nursery-rhymes-hazing

So I was just looking over this article today. FWIW, I thought I'd share with you a letter I sent voicing my 2-cents on this. A lot of people are saying that it is mostly retired Sailors voicing disapproval on this. Truth be told, being retired or active duty has nothing to do with the reasoning of why this is wrong:

In response to the Navy Times article “Training Boss: Forcing Recruits To Sing Nursery Rymes Is Hazing” and posted online on September 25th, 2013,has generated a lot of negative responses, and rightfully so. Today’s Sailors need to learn that while in the Navy, and in life in general, they will suffer indignities and experience humiliations. Also, I don’t see where this type of punishment would sacrifice the self worth of recruits. At the most the RDC should have been counseled, if that even, but not given non-judicial punishment. There is nothing wrong with subjecting recruits to humiliations, so long as there is no intent or desire to demean.

This was done in a training environment, not out in the fleet, as an attempt to foster the idea that humility is necessary and inevitable while in the Navy, and which cannot hurt them, but make them stronger in facing adversities. The RDC knew that those recruits will experience a lot more than just humiliation after they leave recruit training, and he was preparing them. The Navy is saying these recruits were traumatized and abused by this? Say what? Huh? You can’t run to the chain of command every time your feelings get hurt or someone says or does something perceived as unfair or humiliating. Every time a petty officer or chiefs order is counter-manned by someone higher in the chain of command they lose credibility to the point that the whole system starts to break down. Junior Sailors know and understand this and abuse it every day. It actually is disrespecting the chain of command. Again, I have to ask in what way was the self-worth of those recruits violated? And making a habit of questioning every order a petty officer or chief gives to a junior Sailor, who then proceeds to jump the chain of command is fairly common. What will happen when they get to the fleet and realize they can’t pull out a stress card after getting a royal ass-chewing (is cursing outlawed in the Navy now?) or while in the middle of fighting a fire at sea?

Anyway, it's just my opinion on the matter. I'm sure there are others who don't agree but that's ok too. Everyone's got an opinion, right? If you did a survey I am certain a majority of those on active duty would have similar feelings on this subject. I will say that I think retirees have been given a bad rap on voicing our opinions on the changes happening in the Navy today. We are perceived as having bad attitudes, non-conformers, backwards and narrow-minded thinkers. Even the MCPON has discounted everything that veteran Sailors have voiced in response to the numerous changes happening now. Experience should count for something, but it seems like anything done in the past is looked at as outdated and needing either to be revamped completely or eliminated. Why is that? Maybe it's because we live in a litigious society where being sued is as commonplace as shopping. Well like I said, everyone's got an opinion.


B. M. Burawski, YNC(SW)(AW), USN (Ret.)

Rusty Jones
09-26-2013, 01:55 PM
I can't say that I see it that way.

I can't speak for the way things were back in 1985; but I can for 1999. And I do have to say that the majority of the people saying that boot camp has "gone soft" are, in reality, making their own boot camp experience to be tougher than it really was in order to boost their own egos.

This RDC himself went to boot camp in 2005 - six years after I did; so I can say with certainty that he didn't experience this himself. At least not without his RDC's being in violation of the hazing policy.

That said, I can't say that I recall being made to do the stuff that this RDC did to his recruits.

Telling them to do the "Soulja Boy" dance to a nursery rhyme?

Here's there to train recruits, not use them for his personal amusement.

There are supposed to be the RDC's per recruit division. Why aren't the other two RDC's being held responsible? I'll tell you why - this RDC knew that what he was doing was wrong, and didn't do it in their presence.

Having a recruit do "I'm a little teapot" - would he ever do this in the galley or out on the street, where RDC's outside of his division could see him? Obviously, he didn't - otherwise, he'd have been gone a long time ago.

Stalwart
09-26-2013, 02:52 PM
Good points Chief. I don't agree with everything but overall you hit the nail on the head (with me anyway). The final paragraph about retirees is the part that got my attention the most.

I have been in two branches of the military for a total almost 23 years. I will say that I have always valued the opinions and experience of veterans whether they retired or not. Admittedly I do start to tune out when I hear a point being made about ANY subject that is basically "it should be done this way because that is how we did it in my day."

That line of thinking fails to acknowledge that technology, tactics, war, people, society ... EVERYTHING changes over time. I will say that the tenants of what makes good leadership and bad leadership does not change (and good leadership in the Marine Corps is still good leadership in the Navy and vice versa), but the methodology and specific techniques have to change over time as society changes. Some people fail to acknowledge change; I am not saying that means you have to embrace or champion it, or even defend it; but what worked to motivate people in a previous era may not be what works now, a technique that work in combat in the past may not work now etc.

Where this inevitable change impacts things like recruit training (or sexual harassment, sexual assault, the relief of CO's & CMC's) is that now we are in a world where the availability of information impacts how the military (with our experience earned morbid/insensitive senses of humor) may consider something to be a non-issue that is an issue with bodies such as Congress -- who has the Constitutional authority and duty to conduct oversight on us. As a result, things are more open to scrutiny than ever before and we are no longer in a world where the military leadership, Secretaries or Congress can have a ‘plausible deniability’ on a particular issue.

BURAWSKI
09-27-2013, 01:51 AM
Good points Chief. I don't agree with everything but overall you hit the nail on the head (with me anyway). The final paragraph about retirees is the part that got my attention the most.

I have been in two branches of the military for a total almost 23 years. I will say that I have always valued the opinions and experience of veterans whether they retired or not. Admittedly I do start to tune out when I hear a point being made about ANY subject that is basically "it should be done this way because that is how we did it in my day."

That line of thinking fails to acknowledge that technology, tactics, war, people, society ... EVERYTHING changes over time. I will say that the tenants of what makes good leadership and bad leadership does not change (and good leadership in the Marine Corps is still good leadership in the Navy and vice versa), but the methodology and specific techniques have to change over time as society changes. Some people fail to acknowledge change; I am not saying that means you have to embrace or champion it, or even defend it; but what worked to motivate people in a previous era may not be what works now, a technique that work in combat in the past may not work now etc.

Where this inevitable change impacts things like recruit training (or sexual harassment, sexual assault, the relief of CO's & CMC's) is that now we are in a world where the availability of information impacts how the military (with our experience earned morbid/insensitive senses of humor) may consider something to be a non-issue that is an issue with bodies such as Congress -- who has the Constitutional authority and duty to conduct oversight on us. As a result, things are more open to scrutiny than ever before and we are no longer in a world where the military leadership, Secretaries or Congress can have a ‘plausible deniability’ on a particular issue.

Well, yes I would say on an intellectual level you are right about that. It just seems with all of the problems happening in the fleet, particularly with the number of CO and CMC firings, there just might be a problem starting in boot camp. Are all these changes working out for the Navy? I think the readers should answer that, as I've already stated my opinion. And of course some change is needed and justified. But (and it is a big but) there are so many changes being made JUST FOR THE SAKE OF CHANGE, or to put an extra bullet on a fitness report. That is what I am talking about. Too much of the Navy's problems are being publicized in the media. Did the RDC's NJP need to be publicized Navy-wide? Was it really that big of a deal? From what I've read nobody was hurt, just some deflated egos and embarrassment. What's that about? How do they expect Johnny or Jane Seaman to keep it together when they experience some real stress when they get to the fleet and go on a long deployment? Maybe it could have been handled differently. It seems to me the Navy is making that First Class Petty Officer a scapegoat and using him as an example. I would find it hard to believe that no other RDC's or others in leadership had no idea that this had been going on. Anyway, at the very least I think the Navy is airing too much dirty laundry. Some in-house cleaning is needed because the negative publicity does not help anyone. The MCPON led the charge on this by blasting the CPO Community which didn't need to be publicized in the media. It could have been handled within the CPO Mess (remember praise in public, criticize in private?). That made it more difficult for everyone, not just the chiefs.

sandsjames
09-27-2013, 03:14 AM
I can't say that I see it that way.

I can't speak for the way things were back in 1985; but I can for 1999. And I do have to say that the majority of the people saying that boot camp has "gone soft" are, in reality, making their own boot camp experience to be tougher than it really was in order to boost their own egos.

This RDC himself went to boot camp in 2005 - six years after I did; so I can say with certainty that he didn't experience this himself. At least not without his RDC's being in violation of the hazing policy.

That said, I can't say that I recall being made to do the stuff that this RDC did to his recruits.

Telling them to do the "Soulja Boy" dance to a nursery rhyme?

Here's there to train recruits, not use them for his personal amusement.

There are supposed to be the RDC's per recruit division. Why aren't the other two RDC's being held responsible? I'll tell you why - this RDC knew that what he was doing was wrong, and didn't do it in their presence.

Having a recruit do "I'm a little teapot" - would he ever do this in the galley or out on the street, where RDC's outside of his division could see him? Obviously, he didn't - otherwise, he'd have been gone a long time ago.

Exactly right. You don't know how many times I heard that BMT had started letting the trainees take "time-outs". I probably heard this for the last 15 years, yet every new troop (or student at tech school) said it was absolutely not true. Everyone wants to think they had it tougher.

Rusty Jones
09-27-2013, 02:06 PM
I think that the big issue with this RDC is that he was not mature enough to properly exercise the power that was delegated to him as an RDC.

When I was in boot camp, I had one RDC that I could actually describe like that - young, immature, and trying to be some "badass" instead of having an actual desire to properly train Sailors for the Fleet. While I was out in the Fleet, I've seen too many Sailors just like this get orders to RTC to push boots.

Stalwart
09-27-2013, 02:51 PM
Exactly right. You don't know how many times I heard that BMT had started letting the trainees take "time-outs". I probably heard this for the last 15 years, yet every new troop (or student at tech school) said it was absolutely not true. Everyone wants to think they had it tougher.

I went to USMC recruit training in 1990, I started hearing the same thing in about '95 or '96, I had friends that were drill instructors who told me it actually never happened.

At SERE school I thought a certain event lasted A LOT longer than it actually had but at the class debrief when we were told how long it actually was we were really surprised -- our proximity to the stress skewed our ability to keep track of everything going on. I think what you say is kind of true as people look back on their experiences and (consciously or not) perceive that it was harder than it actually was and as a result in trying to 'maintain the standard' are unnecessarily hard on people.


I think that the big issue with this RDC is that he was not mature enough to properly exercise the power that was delegated to him as an RDC.
I look at the issue in the OP – singing nursery rhymes. Not the most egregious of offenses but as Rusty says this displays a lack of maturity & leadership on the RDC. I spent 12 years in the Marines, as an infantryman (eventually into the Reconnaissance community), and we were pretty disciplined & tough both physically and mentally but I never had a drill instructor, troop handler or platoon sergeant provide corrective action that was not somehow related to the lesson trying to be taught. I read that the RDC was trying to teach humility, if he was a bit more mature, seasoned or just a better leader he probably could have come up with a better way to accomplish what he was attempting to do.

Pullinteeth
09-30-2013, 08:34 PM
We had to do the same thing at Recruiting school....

Chief Bosun
10-02-2013, 01:07 PM
I've scanned the back and forth here, as well as read the initial article.

I went through boot camp in 1978. While memory isn't perfect, I don't recall being made to recite nursery rhymes; I do recall seeing Sailors needing minor course corrections being made to do limited quantities of push-ups (I myself did when it was a group action; never was singled out for them myself).

The main thing I got from the article was this was a pattern of conduct on the part of the RDC - not isolated instances. Whether or not this actually falls into the category of misconduct depends on your point of view. The only one that really matters in this case was the one held by their commanding officer.

Was there a better way to instill a sense of humility and "service above self" in those recruits? Probably. But then, the RDC may have already been facing an uphill battle in that regard thanks to attitudes in general in society that tend to look at those of us who follow that concept as fools.

OK, back to my rocking chair.

BURAWSKI
10-09-2013, 05:26 AM
I've scanned the back and forth here, as well as read the initial article.

I went through boot camp in 1978. While memory isn't perfect, I don't recall being made to recite nursery rhymes; I do recall seeing Sailors needing minor course corrections being made to do limited quantities of push-ups (I myself did when it was a group action; never was singled out for them myself).

The main thing I got from the article was this was a pattern of conduct on the part of the RDC - not isolated instances. Whether or not this actually falls into the category of misconduct depends on your point of view. The only one that really matters in this case was the one held by their commanding officer.

Was there a better way to instill a sense of humility and "service above self" in those recruits? Probably. But then, the RDC may have already been facing an uphill battle in that regard thanks to attitudes in general in society that tend to look at those of us who follow that concept as fools.

OK, back to my rocking chair.


That was the same year I went to boot camp. I understand that nothing is probably being done the way it was back then. My first morning wake-up was when the RDC started shouting and throwing a garbage can around the barracks at 5:00 AM. Also, there was a lot of profanity, which probably is prohibited now.

Chief Bosun
10-09-2013, 01:11 PM
That was the same year I went to boot camp. I understand that nothing is probably being done the way it was back then. My first morning wake-up was when the RDC started shouting and throwing a garbage can around the barracks at 5:00 AM. Also, there was a lot of profanity, which probably is prohibited now.

Concur.

But then, there were folks that thought we had gone soft because boot camp had been cut down to six or eight weeks (I forget which) and we didn't have to carry M-1 Garands with filled in barrels and learn the manual-at arms.

Profanity - I have little doubt that coarse language is no longer allowed.