Infantrymen and women are hard to impress. They’re even harder to impress if they’re Marines. It’s not just chest beating and grunting noises. There is more than meets the eye of what it takes to be the lethal edge of the blade of democracy. Impressing the infantry is an uphill battle but not impossible.
Here are 10 reasons why it's so hard to impress infantrymen:
1. We shoot better than most
Shooting on the annual rifle range is clinical compared to the live-fire training the infantry does in the field. Weapons’ maintenance is continuous, rain or shine. Shooting high on table one and two is child’s play compared to the rest of the firing tables the infantry has to do. Infantry have to charge across various terrain, coordinating an assault with combined arms, in concert to seize the objective. A good score on table one is not impressive. Firing rounds on target while tired, muddy, and maneuvering with heavy gear is.
2. We’re more physically fit
Health is taken seriously. They get paid to be physically fit. The infantry will do their due diligence to make sure proper form is maintained to avoid injury during weight training. They take diets seriously because one cheat day can ruin a week’s goal. Pain is weakness leaving the body. So, they push themselves to the limit because the enemy is also training. An infantryman is a weapon, the rifle is an extension of the body.
3. We’ve travelled more
There is one promise my recruiter told me that I can say without a shadow of a doubt was not a lie: I would travel the world. Personally, I’ve been to Cuba, Spain, Turkey, Djibouti, Japan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Korea and other countries in just six years. The infantry deploys a lot. So, if you have an overseas story, the infantry has many more.
4. They’ve watched every movie
Grunts watch anything they can get their hands on during a combat deployment. Every genre is smuggled on hard drives and then passed around more than…you get the idea. The point is, I’ve seen troops discuss the cinematography and plot of adult films with more seriousness than critics in Hollywood. I wish that was a joke.
5. You won’t catch sloppy uniforms in garrison
When in garrison the leadership’s go-to training to keep us busy is a uniform inspection. The only uniform you’ll see grunts wear like pajamas are ‘field cammies’. A field cammie faded camouflage utility uniforms in the field because it’s a sign that they’re saltier than one another. They’re soft and made comfortable by months or years of use. Walk past an infantry Staff NCO out of regs anywhere outside the field and you’ll catch a knife hand to the face, though.
6. They’re more inclusive of other races and cultures
The only thing that matters in the infantry is that you carry your weight. Now, they’re not going to use politically correct language but their heart is in the right place. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or your sexual orientation, if you can prove you can keep up. Everybody deserves respect – except boots. F'n new guys.
7. They have a ton of kids
They’re good at fighting wars and making babies. They often make good parents and will keep in contact with their families at every opportunity. The children have discipline and won’t run around screaming in a restaurant, probably.
8. We earn more medals
A natural perk of constant deployments to foreign lands. It is not rare to see an infantry E-3 have a larger ribbon stack then an admin E-5.
9. The infantry does not talk about combat with non-infantry
Other Military Occupational Specialties will brag about anything they think will make them look cool or exaggerate events in theater. A grunt is just going to look at you like you're an idiot and walk away.
10. We’re the poster children of the military
Every great recruiting commercial has us front and center. We’re the best thing since sliced bread and we will never be humble about that. Everyone is necessary for the war effort but it's hard to impress the people who have to do the actual door kicking.