The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Making Soldiers Into Warriors... What A Novel Idea

The Express-News has an article today on how the US Air Force is shifting away from basic training tasks like folding your shirts and unmentionables into precise little squares to more field and weapons training.

Welcome to the brave new Air Force world, where a new age of warfare has forced the ramping up of basic training so that young recruits will be engrained with a 21st century "warrior ethos" from the get-go.

Precision and order are virtues in the Air Force culture. But when the service studied the way recruits used their time, it found that two days were spent learning to fold their T-shirts in 6-inch squares.

So the exacting and time-honored military discipline of folding T-shirts and underwear according to regulation will become a lost art at Lackland AFB, where recruits are turned into airmen in six weeks.

To replicate a real deployment, the new training follows the Air Expeditionary Force's three-part deployment cycle — used since the mid-1990s to mobilize airpower — of preparation, deployment and recovery.

"Basically, the goal is to establish a warrior ethos in the airmen," Sargent said. "We send a message that, regardless of the reason they joined, whether it's educational opportunities or technical training, they're warriors first and foremost."

As the piece states, recruits fold their clothing into nice little squares so they can figure out what exactly the phrase "attention to detail" means. Well that and because drill instructors like to hear themselvs scream. But I'm pretty sure our creative drill instructors can find something else out in the field that can pass along that little piece of wisdom just as easily.

I think that last graf sums up everything pretty nicely. There are alot of recruits in the past decade or two who have joined the military as a way to finance their education or to learn a skill/trade, never thinking for a second that one day they may find themselves smack in the middle of a war. Think whatever you want about Iraq, but even if we weren't over there we should have a whole lot more troops in Afghanistan- or wherever he is- trying to find Bin Laden. And getting our soldiers to think of themselves as warriors first makes that job a whole lot easier.