Sunday, February 5, 2012

Navy Sets a Dangerous Precedent.

Have you ever horsed around?  I have never know 18-24 year old (typical 1st enlistment age) males not to.  In fact, in some cases "Horsing around" actually serves a purpose.  It can be part of establishing a social pecking order, a stress reliever, or even a way to excise certain disputes.  To be clear Male methods of resolving interpersonal conflict are quite different than Female methods.  The benefits for males is that when its over its over, you gave it your best, and that's that.   Much like a release valve on a pressure cooker or a water heater, it prevents larger explosions (as seen on Mythbusers).

The Navy in all its wisdom has a zero tolerance policy for hazing.  That's fine.  Sounds good.  But exactly what does that mean?  well apparently it means: Don't Rough house.  Ever.  Some sailors on the USS Bon Homme Richard (the "Good Man Richard" named after a ship the French gave to the Americans during the Revolutionary War, and later an Essex Class Carrier)  were caught Horsing around. Essentially they were having little mini MMA fights (minus striking) and ending it when one sailor would tap out.  Apparently this is "hazing".  Which begs the question: Why are you training these people to fight at all?

Seriously.  Think about it.  You're training these kids to go to war, then sticking them on a ship for months at a time.  Did you expect that they would be robots?  Young men go stir crazy.  Quickly.  Do you expect these men to form a bond with each other without ever testing themselves?  Have we really gone so far, that we've forgotten that Males actually do the War Fighting, and that as such Males need to be able to have something to actually struggle against or they simply won't function in a high stress environment.

I wonder what the Navy might say about a platoon of Army Troops literally choking the shit out of each other for like half an hour?  Probably the lot of us would be strung up on charges.  But in 2007 the Army couldn't afford a whole platoon, or even really even a few of the key senior NCOs.  We were there to fight.  What we did with our off time, so long as we didn't kill anybody or break (not bend) the rules who cares?

The Navy has not had to fight a serious battle since the end of WWII.  How many times have they shot, and been shot back at?  At best a handful of times.  Indeed US Carriers since they were *finally* armored with the USS Midway (CV-41) have never come under direct attack.  So our brothers and sisters in the Navy may have forgotten what its like to fight an actual, ya know, war.

This decision sets a very dangerous precedent.  If you are not willing to fight, or if you punish those that show the Warrior Spirit, you will soon find yourself with little more than button pushers, and pansies with no real steel in their spines.  But since we're living with the Kinder Gentler DoD, that may be all well and good.  I'm sure before long, Sailors will have to wear flowers on their uniforms, and absolutely not think about so much as harming a fly.  While we're at it being Gay is all the rage.  Let's make sure Sailors are sensitive by instructing them how to have a "proper" Gay Encounter.

And you wonder why the Army and Marines give the Navy so much shit?


ponsdorf said...

I was gonna so a post about this that would agree with your take save for one line in Navy Times story.

"The injuries were not serious, but the sailor sought treatment and reported the incident to his superiors, leading to the discharges, McKinney said."

Once it reaches that level, regardless of the intent, it has to be dealt with.

I dunno what hazing means anymore, but assault is less ambiguous in my mind?

I may still do the post... if so I'll link to yours.

BTW, your blanket question about the Navy and combat is a little under-whelming. Not unlike the Army the percentages of those serving and those pulling the trigger is misleading. REMFs and Fobbits come easily to mind. [grin]

Death said...

Absurd. If that is hazing my boys are screwed. We can't make it through dinner without someone tapping out

Argent said...

I can't say I agree with you on two major points.

Virtually all males can and do easily get through 18-24 without horsing around by chocking each other. Indeed by that age most kids have matured past horseplay entirely.

Regardless of the merits or problems with horseplay the rules are clear. Choosing to disobey them then whinge about it after is not something I'm inclined to give much credit to.

I actually see this as more of a maturity, boredom, discipline and especially leadership problem.

Nicholas Darkwater said...

MMA has become quite popular & there's no reason to assume that it wouldn't be so in the Navy too. The Army has adopted it full-scale; calls it Combatives. My son (Ranger Combat Medic, former state wrestling finalist, jiu jitsu) does it all the time with his cohort - no problem. Maybe it comes down to proper supervision.

The Navy's reaction seems a bit excessive, but maybe there's more to the story. Was the sailor in question compelled to participate?

RIVRON Old Guy. said...

Having served in the US Navy I have to argue a couple points of this article.

Agreed: Few of the US Navy's top brass has any clue as to what it is really like to be shot at or have bombs taking their buddies.

Reason for the rules:
On a ship there are few places wrestling can occur without endangering personnel and equipment. There is seldom enough room to have horse play. Ships Captains do have leeway in allowing controlled wrestling/MMA matches.

I agree this incident should not have resulted in hazing charges period. This is a lack of leadership issue in providing for release of tension.

Disagreement: The Navy has been shot at more than a few times since WW2 perhaps not in set-piece battles involving a whole fleet but we have been bloodied in Korea, Vietnam and continue to be in boots on the ground combat in Afghanistan today. (Besides the SEALs.) The US Navy has construction battalions, medics, EOD personnel and individual augmentees in Afghanistan today. And had Riverine patrols supporting the US Army and Marines in suppressing the ability of insurgents to operate in Iraq.

Be careful painting with too wide a brush.