5 crazy ways recruit training has changed

Veterans pride themselves on their accomplishments after spending some of the best years of their lives serving. But that path to greatness starts when recruits first enter boot camp — all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Recruits arriving at MCRD — San Diego Photo By: Cpl. Angelica I. Annastas

Recruits arriving at MCRD  San Diego — (Photo By: Cpl. Angelica I. Annastas)

As the world changes, so do the expectations of our future Marines, sailors, airmen, and soldiers as basic training gets revised based on new technology and evolving social norms.

But no matter how much things change, most of us we want our sons and daughters to have the same “in your face” training experience that we once endured.

Here are few ways boot camp has changed over the last several years.

1. Rifle Combat Optic

Back in the day, Marine recruits had to train and qualify on a rifle with their M-16s using precise breathing control, unsound vision and iron sights.

A few years ago, the Marine Corps decided to switch from the traditional iron sights to Rifle Combat Optics, or “red dot sights,” to help recruits better hit their targets.

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BANG! Center mass, baby.

From personal experience, the ability to home in and snipe out the enemy from far away is badass, but the downfall is if the optic takes a hard hit, the sight can be thrown off, limiting its effectiveness and you need to go back to the range to “zero” it back in.

With a set of iron sights, most damage isn’t severe enough to completely take you out of the fight.

2. Gender Integrated Training

In the mid-2000s, I marched into Naval Training Command Great Lakes to begin my path to become a corpsman. Little did we know that our division would get integrated with a female class. There’s nothing wrong with it generally speaking.

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Being integrated means you’re going to train to fight on a ship alongside female recruits and might have a female Recruit Division Commander yelling at you to tie a bow knot faster.

Not saying women can’t be tough, but images like the one below suggest they may be too relaxed.

Nothing says discipline like shaking an R.D.C's hand during a photo op.

Nothing says hardcore discipline like a recruit smiling and shaking hands with the higher-ups during a photo op.

3. Weapons Training

In this day and age, Navy boot camp isn’t much more than eating three meals a day, memorizing your recruit handbook, some physical training here and there and eventually spending a long night going through battle stations.

My division spent a half of day snapping in, then firing approximately 30 rounds at a patched up target. That was it.

No wonder service members accidentally shoot themselves.

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These Navy recruits put on their serious faces while snapping in.

Back in the day, heading to the rifle range was a major event conducted as a massive outdoor range.

Navy Bootcamp during the 60's

Navy Bootcamp during the 60’s in San Diego, Ca.  “Look Ma, iron sights.”

4.  Hard Training

The stress cards have been debunked awhile ago — they don’t exist.

What does exist is the fine line recruit trainers have to walk to avoid rules barring hazing. There have been quite a few reports of drill instructors being charged with hazing recruits in Parris Island. True or not, it’s a problem.

Not only do these reports shine a bright light on the way recruits are trained, it could also undermine the drill instructor’s authority.

In every branch of the military, there are going to have a few bad apples in charge who go overboard, but as one former Marine drill instructor stated: “you have to train for war to be effective in war.”

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Gunny Hartman is hard, but he is fair. (Source: WB/Screenshot)

Having known many Marines who went through recruit training during the Vietnam War era, Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” is a pretty accurate depiction of boot camp life back then. (Just the first act. The second and third acts aren’t known for their accuracy).

In some aspects, hazing is considered a right of passage, but punching or slamming recruits down isn’t cool.

5. Cellphone usage

I told you number five would shock you.

Remember when you showed up to boot camp and you got one phone call home to inform your family you arrived safely. Well, that still exists, but now in some Army boot camps you can call them on your personal cell phone at your drill sergeant’s discretion.

The recruits need to been in good standings to use their most prized possession on the weekends.

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Note: Erase any sensitive photos you might have beforehand.

Can you think of any other changes not listed? Comment below.

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