FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - Right off the bat last night, we helped welcome in a new set of Army recruits to Fort Leonard Wood. This experience was shocking, to say the least. The first youngsters off the bus from Lambert Airport (StL) were the group of six women. The drill sergeants didn't waste any time taking away their freedoms and autonomy. It took all I had in me to stay behind my camera and hold off on hugging them. All together, there were less than 50 Army privates who arrived last night at about 8 p.m. All but a handful were young men.
The new privates were immediately lined up and given orders. The first lesson: how to respond with 'Yes Drill Sergeant!' The second lesson: who is in charge. You could argue that the two lessons are one in the same. The drill sergeants filtered the new privates through the bathroom in seconds. They were given a cup of water and an apple to eat in less than a minute. Then, were instructed on how to fill out paper work... line by line. If you got ahead of the group or even looked a drill sergeant in the eye, there was more yelling.
To an outsider, this process is shocking. I kept thinking to myself, "But they're so young!"
To experienced Army officers and enlisted soldiers, the men and women who sign up to defend the U.S. can handle the pressure.
In fact, the pressure, or total control as they all it, is necessary. As soon as the bus arrives on post, the new privates lose most of their freedoms. This builds structure and discipline. It creates an environment where higher ranking men and women can quickly mold a civilian into an Army soldier.
In talking today with Lt. Col Anderson from the 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, I learned this 'phase red' control lessens over a private's 10 weeks in basic training. As long as the new recruits obey and succeed in their tasks, phase red lessens to blue and white.
That's all for now. Follow me @BethVaughnKSHB and www.kshb.com/bootcamp .
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