Hazing and the “New Corps”

“The measure of a man is what he does with power.” – Plato

 

My feet hit those adorable little yellow footprints in January of 2002, and from T-1 all the way up until my EAS in 2006, I heard “New Corps” at least five times a day.  It always amused me to see 19 year old kids and 30 year old men complaining about how the world was going to shit because they couldn’t IT a 17 year old boy barely out of high school for forgetting to shave.  I was issued “old school” woodlands which required heavy starching and ironing in order to make them look sweet.  I was issued black leather boots that needed to be cleaned, buffed, and polished every night and touched up throughout the day.  Most of us took a lot of pride in our uniforms and the hours of maintenance that came with them.  When the spiffy new digital camouflage utilities emerged, nearly every Staff NCO, NCO, and Senior Lance began having meltdown after hilariously embarrassing meltdown, screeching and wailing like meth-addicted banshees about how ri-goddamned-diculous it was that they weren’t allowed to starch or iron them.  And the boots!  YOU CAN’T SPIT SHINE THEM??  WHAT THE FUCK??  MY MARINES WON’T HAVE SHINY FEET??  NOOOOO!!!  All ending with violent fist shaking towards the heavens and a moon-shattering “DAMN YOUS NEW CORPS!! DAMN YOUS ALL TO HELL!!”

 

It, uh…It got intense.

 

Digital utilities and the new boots meant, in reality, less time spent on starching, ironing, and polishing and more effective camouflage.  Marines who were not issued Marpat were so confounded by this change that many simply refused to wear them, until units began officially making them the uniform of the day, to try to preserve their status as “old school.”  Boots were buying old utilities and jungles in attempt to fit in and be “Old Corps.”  It was beautiful. [single tear forms before I force it back in like a man.]

 

Everything that was updated, changed or different was immediately terrible and was blamed on this “New Corps.”

 

Civilians running the Chow halls?  Damn that New Corps!  Drill Instructor gets removed for spraying a recruit in the face with windex?  Damn that New Corps!  Changing the way the Rifle Range is scored?  Damn that New Corps!  Getting rid of 5-tons so Motor T has to learn about 7-tons?  Damn that New Corps!  We have to sit through another Safety Brief/Stand Down?  Damn that New Corps!  Most often it was basically “Troop welfare is better than when I was that rank…FUCKING NEW CORPS!! UUUUGGGGHHHH!!” (with or without violent, childish tantrum-kicking.)

 

Many Marines never open their eyes enough to realize that at one point, this “New Corps” was blamed for making them trade in their trusty M-14 for a POS M-16, a musket with balls for a rifle with cartridges, and a horse for a tank.  Speaking with WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam veterans will provide much insight into this, as they all will tell you about Marines who bitched about the “New Corps” or “Kinder, Gentler Marine Corps” when they served.

 

Point being:  Progress and change in the Corps are viewed as dangerous, unnecessary, and coddling.  When the AAV was originally scheduled to be replaced by the AAAV (aka EFV) nearly every 2141 and 1833 complained about the training that they would need if that happened.  Instead of being excited about receiving a faster, safer, and overall better piece of equipment, they all blamed this new technology (which was never instated) for the decline of their beloved Corps.  Their “logic” was:  “Marines don’t need air-conditioning in a combat vehicle!  Quick-disconnect parts are for bitches!  That 25mm Bushmaster isn’t as cool as my m2 and mk19, I don’t care if it CAN hit a target in 6 foot swells from a longer distance, I don’t need no dang ole’ electronics helping me shoot!  Going 35 knots isn’t much faster than 8, that’s a waste of power!  These vehicles being easier to diagnose, repair, maintain, and operate will lead to my Marines becoming complacent and turning into shit bags!”

 

By far, the most hilariously stupid use of New Corps Blaming was unleashed upon anyone mentioning the hazing policy.  I came in several years after the original order was instated and there were still Marines who claimed to not fully understand it.  It was a fairly simple order;  Incentive Training was for recruits at MCRD’s only, no public humiliation, no physical assaults, no consenting to being hazed or abused, and punishments must make sense.  For example:  If he is late for formation, the Marine stays late that week or has to be in early the next week to write an essay so that he knows what he did wrong and how to fix it, instead of forcing him to PT which would only add to his exhaustion and teach him that he can fuck up all he wants as long as he can keep up with whoever is running him.  If his uniform looks like dusty ass, he should stand several uniform inspections until he has proved that he is competent in that area of Devil Doggyness.  If his room looks like six hobos held an epic fisting orgy overnight, he should lose his weekend to a proper Field Day (Chinese if there is mold or is an extreme case).  If he is a fat body or cannot pass a PFT, extra PT should be used to fix those deficiencies, where an essay or uniform inspection could not.

 

There is often a good amount of debate between Marines as to what type of punishment fits each offense.  A common misconception is that extra PT will solve any problem by teaching Marines that physical pain is the result of making a mistake.  This is incorrect.  It teaches him that he can get away with being a poor quality Marine as long as he can exercise well.  Some argue that it is better to take a Marine out to the tree line and beat some sense into him than to “ruin his career with paperwork.”  This does not teach him to correct his deficiencies, it teaches him that it is acceptable to assault someone when they make the wrong choice, there will be no official repercussion if he does, and that he can be a failure as a Marine but still stay in the Corps because he has a clean record.

 

Some types of hazing are fairly innocent, and like many Marines, I have no problem with those.  Tasking a young devil with finding an eight pound bolt stretcher, some grid squares, blinker fluid, or 50 feet of shore-line is not humiliating, but it does show him that work can be sacrificed in order to play games.  Inside jokes help form lasting bonds, every adult realizes that.  Including the new guy in those inside jokes helps him acclimate to the environment and feel like part of the team, especially when he can include someone in the joke later on down the road.  Pranks that don’t waste time and resources and do not result in someone being injured or humiliated are fine in my opinion, and I doubt many Marines would disagree with me on that.

 

Tradition is often cited as a reason for allowing hazing.  A notable tradition being the NCO Blood Stripe ceremony.  When a Marine is promoted to Corporal, he walks between two rows of senior NCO’s who each punch him in the shoulder to “make the rank stick” and knee him in the thigh, creating a line of bruises that are supposed to mimic the scarlet stripe on NCO and Officer dress blue trousers.  Marines are taught in boot camp that the Corps uses the blood stripe to remember that 90% of all Officers and NCO’s were lost during the Battle of Chapultepec in 1847, and this ceremony is supposed to honor that.  In reality, the losses were much less significant (7 out of 400-450 men) and the Marine Corps borrowed the blood stripe from the Army in 1840.  Freshly promoted Corporals often have trouble walking for at least a day after this pointless, historically inaccurate ceremony, and a few have formed blood clots that have endangered their careers and lives.  If we are going to have traditions, let us at the very least make sure that they don’t make us look like fools.  If you want to congratulate your brother for being promoted, shake his hand like a man.

 

As for as the “tradition” argument; the Corps has never tolerated hazing.  Before the current order was instated it was just called an Article 93 (Cruelty and Maltreatment).  Putting a new name on and bringing attention to an old problem does not make the Corps weaker or softer, it helps address an existing issue so that future Marines can have a better Corps than you did.  Children that were abused are more likely to abuse their own children, and the same goes for Marines.  If we don’t work together and stop making the same mistakes our predecessors made, the Marine Corps will never be the elite organization that we all wanted it to be.

 

tl;dr – You are always boot to someone who thinks you are ruining their Corps.  Don’t be a dick and ruin it for everyone who serves after you.