Copyright (c) 2010 Michael Volkin
So, you have decided to join the military and are ready to face your drill sergeant. Do you know how to make your drill sergeant happy? Do you know what drives him or her crazy? Every drill instructor is different but the same actions can get you in trouble with any of them. Listed below are the top 5 things (in no particular order) you should never do in front of a Drill Sergeant.
1. Never try on a drill sergeants hat- A drill sergeant is not your friend, and you certainly don’t want to reach for a drill sergeants hat (called a campaign hat). I have seen this attempted before and the entire platoon was doing push-ups in the cold winter mud for an hour. Even attempting to grab a campaign hat is an invitation for a terrible day.
2. Never sneeze or cough at attention- When you are in formation and standing at attention you are not supposed to move. I learned this lesson the hard way. On my second day of basic training it was snowing slightly and a snowflake landed very gently on my nose. At first I tried to blow it off using a crooked configuration with my lips. When that didn’t work, I looked around and noticed no one was looking. I then quickly reached up smacked the snowflake off my nose. I was surprised by how fast I did it, but even more surprised that a drill sergeant saw me from 100 feet away. You see, when 200 soldiers are in formation at attention, everything looks exactly the same. Drill sergeants notice even the slightest movement. As a result of my quick and subtle movement, I was doing plank exercises in the snow for the next 20 minutes.
3. Never laugh or smile-Basic training isn’t supposed to be a good time. It’s not a time for you to hang out with your friends or shoot the breeze with your Drill sergeant. If you are talking with your drill sergeant, don’t crack a smile or laugh at anything anyone is doing. Your drill sergeants want to see your serious side; they only have a few weeks to turn you into a soldier, so discipline is important.
4. Don’t get wordy- When a drill sergeant asks you a question, the answer should be given with as few words as possible. 90% of your responses should be “Yes” or “No”. Responding to your drill instructor as if you were responding to one of your buddies is a very bad idea. Never say the word “yea” or “neh”, always say “yes” or “no”.
5. Don’t raise your hand- If you haven’t been to basic training yet, you will certainly witness a handful of recruits who come from a long family lineage of military service. These recruits have been told stories about boot camp by everyone in their family, and they are not shy to share the information. Drill instructors hate these types of recruits. A drill instructor wants to work with a “clean slate”, meaning they don’t want your mind polluted by someone else who tried to teach you how to do a marching movement or shoot a rifle. If you know, or think you know, what a drill instructor is about to show you, do not share that knowledge with your drill instructor or another recruit by interrupting and raising your hand. Doing so will only get you in trouble.
Drill Sergeants can make basic training your worst nightmare or a learning experience. Drill Instructors could tell right away if a recruit is a troublemaker. Once they have your attention, it’s hard to make a good second impression…