drill as discipline

Maria Swora (mswo_ltd@UHURA.CC.ROCHESTER.EDU)
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 14:10:11 -0500

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This bounced due to mistyped address, so I bounced it back

> As a Reagan era veteran of the US Army, I'd like to offer some comments on
> drill as social control. I speak more as an informant than an
> anthropologist here.
> I joined the service out of high school in 1979, and eventually found myself
> in Frankfurt, (then) West Germany. Reagan had just taken office, and a sort
> of "revitalization" of the military got under way. Between the Vietnam war
> and the Reagan years, the military services suffered from a considerable
> loss of status and moral. Soldier misbehavior ran rampant in the 1970s, and
> "racial" difficulties and illicit drug use were commanders' biggest concerns.
> The problem according to the military was a lack of discipline. In the
> early 1980s, commanders increased measures of instilling discipline, and
> drill was one method used (along with increased "health and welfare"
> inspections, cleaniness/discipline inspections, more field exercises, more
> stringent weight control measures, and mandatory urinalysis). When I got to
> Germany, my division commander ruled that whenever three or more soldiers
> were traveling on foot in the same direction, the ranking individual would
> march the others. In other words, three or more individuals had to
> constitute themselves as a "unit." (Of course, people responded to this by
> splitting up into pairs). Routinely, we marched everywhere - to work and
> back, to the mess hall. All the "no-gos" on sick call that day would be
> formed up and marched to the clinic. And so on.
> Then there are the "cadences" or the "jodies." Has any folklorist or
> ethnomusicologist looked at Army jodies? Somebody should! I sometimes have
> dreams about them, and it's been ten years since I left the service.
> Maria Swora
Formerly of the 3rd Armor Division and 1st Cavalry Division,
happy to be a civilian!