Military Life

5 ethical ways to make Basic Training easier

Let's get this straight right away: Doing things that are clearly against the rules makes you a sh*tbag Soldier. However, just because you don't want to be a sh*tbag doesn't mean you have to strive to be the best. For many, the goal of Basic Training quickly becomes simply making it to the end.


Just take a few pointers from the E-4 Mafia and you'll find your Basic Training experience to be much more bearable. Keep in mind that while these may not be against any rules, they certainly won't win you brownie points with anyone.

5. Hide behind the fat kid

Right out the gate, trainees experience a "Shark Attack." Every stereotype you've ever heard about a Drill Sergeant is unleashed upon new recruits in one fell swoop. As newbies get off the bus for the first time, DIs swarm, "attacking" each as they emerge. The Drill Sergeants will try to space themselves out to make sure every trainee gets a chance to "enjoy" the attack. Sometimes, however, they can't help themselves when a big boy gets off the bus — every Drill Sergeant wants a chance to yell in his face.

That's where you come in. Quietly avoid eye contact and let the big guy ahead of you take the brunt.

This one may be harder than it seems, but if you pull it off, you'll save yourself from wetting your newly issued ACU trousers. (Photo by Stephen Standifird)

4. Be just good enough

You're just trying to make it to the finish line. There's no first place trophy. Well, technically, there's a Certificate of Achievement, but those are remarkably easy to get after you arrive at your first duty station and rarely is an Army Achievement Medal is given to out-f*cking-standing trainees.

If you're not already in that 0.1 percent of excellence, your sole focus should be on improving yourself and graduating.

When you get to your unit, you can a CoA by just existing properly. (Photo by Spc. Tynisha Daniel)

3. Do nothing, say nothing

At some point, you'll hear the drill sergeants call, "everywhere I go, there's a drill sergeant there." You have no idea how true that saying actually is.

You could just be getting ready for lights out and decide it's safe to f*ck off. Nope, there's a drill sergeant. You might think no one will notice you skipping out of cleaning the bay. Nope, there's a drill sergeant. Don't even bother shamming or slacking off with the other guys in the platoon. Just keep your nose down.

Just clean your rifle when you can. They might confuse this as taking initiative but, in actuality, you're just avoiding trouble. (Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

2. "Clean" the latrines while you're on firewatch

Every night, two trainees pull fire watch. In one hour intervals, the two oscillate between sitting at the desk and cleaning.

Always volunteer to be the cleaner because chances are that whatever you're about to clean has been cleaned already. As long as you, say, wipe down the sink, you've technically cleaned something.

Even when you make it to the real Army, you'll still be mopping latrines. So, get used to it now. (Photo by Maj. Brandon Mace)

1. Don't stop the sh*tbag from getting in trouble

Nothing is more true in the military than the phrase, "one team, one fight." Which brings us to the as*hole trainee that doesn't get the message.

There will always be that one trainee who is not fit for military service and comes in with a bad attitude. There's no redemption. When they go down in flames (which they will), you'll look better by comparison by just not being a sh*tbag. But at the same time, don't get in their way — you don't want to get bunched together in their idiocy. Whatever you do, don't try to cover for them.

You're going to get smoked regardless, so don't try to avoid it. (Photo by Sgt. Phillip McTaggart)