The Marines use a “rebirth system,” so to speak. Marines are not called Marines verbally or in any other way until they have “earned the title.” The Army calls their recruits “soldiers” from day one.This is another one of those ideas that I was wrong on. I thought it was a silly gimmick but it seems to be working.
The Marines understand that you are not a full-fledged Marine until you have earned the insignia of the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor (the EGA as Marines call it). This is not done until the very last week in which recruits participate in an event called The Crucible. This is a 56 hour “gut check.” Recruits undergo a hell week, a series of combat team tasks over that 56 hour period on very little food and sleep.
These tasks are not complex. We are not talking about a huge military strategy here. We are talking about moving ammo cans over an obstacle course, evacuating a casualty under fire through the sucking mud, and getting a squad over a distance with obstacles and difficult terrain.
The crucible awards a “badge” or “award”… the EGA. There is a “becoming” associated with graduating Marine Boot Camp. It’s like a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon as a butterfly or in this case, emerging as an elite warrior. This attitude follows the Marine for the rest of his or her life. It is a significant and emotional event that is never ever forgotten. In order to get that similar effect in the Army, you would have to go to Airborne or even Ranger school.
We must find a way to raise the bar in the Army. We must find a way to make the Army an elite concept. It must become more than a catchy slogan “Army Strong” and a way to make money for college. We must return to the Spartan roots that made us great. Because right now, we are not great.
Talking to the new jacks the Crucible really was a kick in the behind and a kinda emotional experience. The Army would be wise to make the changes talked about in the article. While Shinseki got it right on the Iraq war, he was wrong in the way that he approached the idea of instilling service pride. Anything given and not earned isn't appreciated or respected. That's why giving berets to everyone failed so miserably.
He didn't understand that the mystique came from the work to earn the beret, not from the beret itself.
I'd like to see the Army raise its game. Strong inter-service rivalry isn't to be feared but encouraged. It makes everyone better, and that's the problem with the "jointness" craze. It lowered things and pushed commonality instead of fostering excellence.
While I'd like to see the Army push on these topics I don't think they will. They're in a phase (like the rest of the services) where they're focused on hardware instead of pushing for excellence from their personnel.