Hazing and the military

| October 23, 2012

From an article in Stars and Stripes:

It was late December 2011 and Pfc. Thomas Nguyen, 20, had just landed at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, where members of his Georgia National Guard unit were taking part in peacekeeping operations. Inside the tactical operations center, after a few questions about his predeployment training, Nguyen’s first sergeant gestured toward the wooden board and told the young private that waterboarding was a training requirement in the field.

Was it a lighthearted joke or meant to instill fear?

While no attempt was made to torture the private, the insinuation was enough to convince senior Army leaders that 1st Sgt. Brett R. Paul had committed a crime.

Does that seem a bit…..thin to you? It certainly did to the commander of the unit.

“I don’t believe these things they were accused of rose to the level of court-martial,” Lt. Col. Joe Lynch, commander of the Georgia’s 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, told Stars and Stripes.

“Was there some inappropriate behavior? I think there was. There was some college prank type stuff.”

The push to prosecute three soldiers, all of whom faced potential prison time, was an unprecedented overreaction by senior Army leaders, Lynch said.

“I’ve never seen this level of reaction to what is essentially an EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) complaint,” he said. “We chose the nuclear option when we could have chosen small-arms fire. We as leaders failed our soldiers on this one.”

I got busted for hazing at The Citadel, and I have brands on my arm, so perhaps I’m not the most objective one to discuss this. But these guys got in trouble for gesturing at a board and saying the private would be waterboarded? Messing with privates was a rite of passage. Every grunt I ever met sent the newbies off to find a box of grid squares or some squelch for the PRC-E6.

So, what level does it go from prank to hazing? I don’t know, but I would have had a hard time finding for the prosecution here I think.



Category: Politics

Comments (61)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. PavePusher says:

    USAF Aircraft Maintenance. Roto/Prop wash. Buckets of K9P solvent. Turbine Echo checks. Long-Weight checks. Push-starting the prop/rotor. Left- (or Right-) hand blade benders. Rotate the tires/blades/crew seats/whatever. Window transparancy level checks. Nav light fluid checks. Back-up intercom checks (Sarge, that phone-funnel smells funny…). Tool-box roll inspection. Promotion tack-ons.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same…

  2. Eric says:

    I had to read this three times before I realized it wasn’t a duffelblog posting.

    We would yell at 2LTs in ACUs about their rank being on upside down. We even got one Captain with it for a couple weeks. (Before he went to a briefing where a CSM talked about stupid NCO tricks like, telling LTs their rank is on upside down…)

    When I was an E-4, I watched a previous Sergeant Major of the Army blood pin a new E-7. (In BDUs)

    At times I used to send privates to go find BA-1100N’s.

    I’ve personally made 5 officers walk at least 3-5 paces before stopping and coming back to me with a confused look on there face because I asked, “Sir, can you go find me some fallopian tube?”

    It does sound as if there is something more significant in this unit than just that one thing. Hard to say for sure, but the article doesn’t say anything else about other issues included in this.

    Seems to me this is yet another indicator of the Zero-Tolerance Army making its presence known.

  3. Gravel says:

    Saluting new LTs (and actually quite a few ranks all the way up to and including LTG Watts) at VII th Corp Headquarters (Kelly Barracks) as an MP. If caught and questioned we explained that we saluted left handed while on duty and under arms to keep our gun hand free.

    That wasn’t really hazing, just us knowingly screwing with other people.

  4. Mike Kozlowski says:


    When were you at the Citadel? One of the best officers I ever worked for came out of there, and I used to work for the current President when he was wing king at Shaw AFB – again, a superb leader and a hell of a great guy.


  5. Not to be confused with the other Brian says:

    I had my CIB blood pinned, and promotions to E3 and E4 blood pinned. I also had some mechanics when I was an E2 try to pull the left handed torque wrench on my ass, which didn’t go well since I had used a torque wrench numerous times as a civilian plus had some schooling using torque wrenches. I just made the mechanics look stupid. I’ve pulled the soft spots on Bradleys(there’s actually 3) etc. etc. At no point in time was I, or anyone else in on the hazing, going to let the hazing get out of hand. The worse we really did was get 18 or 19 year old soldiers get super drunk, which is nothing different than college. But in the Infantry getting hammered is just a part of life anyways so getting them drunk can hardly be considered hazing.
    If someone can’t handle a bit of pain, humiliation, and mostly humor at their expense they should be kicked out of the military… or at the very least they shouldn’t be combat arms because they really don’t belong.

    Hazing to a certain extent is needed, deserved, and traditional when it comes to the military. The extent that it actually permanently harms someone is a different matter entirely, and completely crosses the line. That being said when idiots brand the cross rifles onto themselves because they’re dumbasses about to graduate OSUT that’s their own problem.(No I didn’t, and yes I did know a group of idiots.) Also in the military we poke fun. That doesn’t mean we don’t trust, respect, or wouldn’t go the distance for a man.

    The kid in this article sounds like a tard.

  6. NHSparky says:

    Jesus, to think what we considered relieving boredom would be considered a court-martial offense these days.

    A few of my favorites:

    –10 lb water hammer (got one guy good on that one)
    –Turning nubs into balls of tape
    –Applying hickies, neolube, whiteout, and Mobil red to said taped up individual
    –Posting in the rack
    –TDU weights in the rack, one every other watch or so, then when he’s used to about 100 lbs extra, take them all out and chew his ass when he slams the now lightened rack pan up.
    –Shaving the belt to the point he thinks he’s gained 4 inches on his waist in a underway.
    –Shortening his poopy suit sleeves and inseams.
    –Freezing his mattress (only if he doesn’t hot bunk, unless the guy he bunks with is an asshole too)
    –Thumbs in the vise (see Mobil red application)
    –Checking for electrical safety (meggering the nubs)
    –Feeding the shaft seals
    –SEA BATS (yes, even on boats)
    –Getting permission to blow the DCA
    –Finding the EM Log and delivering to Maneuvering
    –Shellback or Bluenose (Only got the former, thank God)
    –Drinking your dolphins (or getting them tacked on)

    And Master Chief, the “Dance of the Flaming Assholes?” Special? We had another expression for that at the Horse and Cow. It was called Payday Friday.

  7. Scubasteve says:

    I was almost got with having to replace the summer air with the winter air in the tires on our HMMWV in Germany. It was almost believeable because the mechanics informed me instead of having to switch out the current tires on every vehicle with all weather tires, we could just change the air when we rotated them, and it was a cost saving measure the Army implemented. This was back in ’98-’99 timeframe.

    I always loved seeing newbies with a trash bag, trying to get an exhaust sample from their HMMWV. They looked like monkeys f’in a football. Didn’t know what they were doing, or why, but damned if they didn’t give it their all.

    Checking the blackout lights on an NTV (Nontactical vehicle, i.e.-sedan)

    wetting down the stripes

    walking the gauntlet

    blood rank/wings

    bright red “cherry blast’ helmet with a shark fin on top on your first jump, or the ever classic cherry pie in the pocket.

    These were all considered normal, and were harmless fun. We were self policing too. If someone took it too far, the group took control. The times, they are a changin’.

  8. DaveO says:

    Sounds like the First Sergeant was hated by the chain of command, who used the excuse to exterminate his career.

  9. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    I guess I was lucky, I was only asked to retrieve a blank adapter for a 105 recoilless rifle. I asked, “if the weapon is recoilless what purpose does the blank adapter serve?” The Sergeant who was sending me said, “Son, since you seem to want to ask smart questions we’ll send your buddy for it”. Surprisingly, the kid next to me ran right out to get one all the while thinking I was a dumb ass for questioning the Sergeant…

  10. DelBoy says:

    I’ve wetted down, had blood rank upon entering the NCO corps, and was sent on all the goofy fetch missions as a PVT.

    I tell every one of my soldiers that everything will be considered hazing within 5 years. Don’t like the way Top looked at you? HAZING! PSG asks you to take out the trash and you don’t like it? HAZING(that one actually happened to me)! You want to go to the gym instead of doing crossfit with the rest of the unit? HAZING!

    I honestly thought I could put in 15-20 years, but with things going the way they are, 10 years is enough for me.

  11. Detn8r says:

    I had my “Crab” EOD Badge pinned on my chest and would have fought the first person that said I couldn’t! I earned that badge and be damned if anyone was going to take that honor away form me.

    Did send a 1LT looking for a left hand nuclear tool set. The instructor took her tool set from her right hand and placed it in her left, then sent her on her way. Had a young PVT believing he was going to get an Article 15 for shooting azimuths, and then of course sending PVTs to the head shed for a box of ST1s.