Peacemaking: Chapter 1-12
The Crucible culminated in a three-mile hike up a ninety-degree mountain called, the Reaper. All of the recruits were in full battle gear (about seventy-five pounds of extra junk). It was on top of the Reaper that our D.I.’s would first pin the E.G.A. on us; they would do it once more for ceremony at our graduation. It was on this hump—early in the morning—that Sgt. Beelzebub walked over to me. “Recruit,” he said. “Yes, Drill Instructor?” “Do you disagree with my leadership style?” I was befuddled. I had no idea how to answer this question. I assumed this was brought on by the Recruit Bane situation, but never had a D.I. been straightforward with me. And, to be honest, I was afraid of the repercussions of speaking my mind. I didn’t want to draw any unnecessary attention to myself. “I asked you a question, Recruit?” “Yes, Drill Instructor, I do,” I said. “A Marine should be motivated by respect, not fear.” “Really? Is that so?” We were both breathing hard as we continued to pass through the sagebrush that lined the Reaper. “You think Recruit Bane would have finished the Crucible if you hadn’t of feared him into it?” “I don’t know, Drill Instructor,” I stared, head down, lest I should look Satan directly in the eyes, “but, fundamentally, I have to believe that a Marine who truly admires and respects his commander is more apt to follow him than the Marine who fears his commander.” “Hell, Peters, that’s crazy talk. These recruits are birds, lost pigeons floating in life. They have no structure, no discipline, and they sure as hell don’t have any fitness. We have a job to do here, and respect ain’t gonna cut it. What’s needed is fear. What’s needed is dehumanization. You have to strip a man down, humiliate him, before you can begin the process of rebuilding ‘em.” He paused, looked up the mountain, and continued, “You have the makings of a good non-commissioned officer Peters, but remember this: nothing motivates like fear. When we’re in Afghanistan and some hajji is staring you down, it’s not about hearts and minds recruit, it’s about bullets in bodies. If one of your Marines isn’t up to task, well then, there’s only one way to make ‘em up to it: scare the shit out of him.” “Yes, Drill Instructor,” I said. He nodded his head, as if he had imparted great wisdom, before he was off again, barking like mad at some poor recruit who was struggling up the Reaper. This was the only time at Boot Camp that a D.I. talked to me as an equal. It was strange.