Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Turning the Screws

In the military we have a different form of punishment than the civilian world. It's not the demonized beating of another soldier while they sleep with bars of soap shoved down a sock (although I know similar accounts that have happened by individuals acting on their own). But unlike most jobs who would just fire you on the spot for screwing up the military takes the approach of rehabilitating punishment. Not the 'Million Little Pieces' type rehab but 'corrective training' as some NCO's term it. Although the majority of this is delivered orally.

Now in the civilian world if you got in trouble at work usually what happens is some person from Human Resources would ask you to their office, go over some long convoluted document, review it with you and have you sign it. Essentially if your action didn't warrant an immediate firing you would be put on probation for a set term and your performance reviewed. The military does have this form of administrative discipline however it is usually a paperwork hassle for most NCOs and honestly most soldiers are just either too young, inexperienced, or immature in their career for such drastic measures. This is where the bulk majority of actions that need remedying fall within. Low level screw-ups that aren't acceptable but at the same time is a waste of time to process (i.e. you were told to make your bed properly and you didn't, or you forgot a piece of non-essential equipment behind during an exercise).

Thus enters what we like to call a "jacking", the process of being "jacked" or "jacked up". The allusion is to that of a broken vehicle that doesn't perform properly and gets taken to the mechanic where it is jacked up on hydraulics, fixed, and sent on its way. Hence when small corrective measures are required in a military training environment the use of jackings are rife.

The most common administration of this is through a verbal beat down of both your ego and your choice in actions that premeditating the initiation of the jacking. For the most part you just take it and 'soldier on' as best you can. Although I've seen a heard both guys and girls breakdown from getting given a jacking. The worst ones in my experience are when they make you actually participate in your own berating. Like answering questions about your own ineptness and shortcomings or your very presence in whatever situation caused the jacking.

In my own experience I never received a jacking that made me cry. However, I have been brought to the brink of them and all my focus was on maintaining my composure. It was because during a routine inspection the Sergeant in charge of me opened my gas mask holder that was supposed to be pristine and a big clump of dried leaves fell out onto our nicely swept, mopped, and waxed floor. That was a bad day. This isn't to say that was my last one. I've already written about my habit of bad showings for uniform inspections and have received a lot more since then. But like a virgin getting their cherry popped it gets easier as time goes on. By the end of my tenure with the military I would brush off the words within 10 minutes of receiving it. Not exactly the effect my superiors wanted but by then I had enough of a rep that any indiscretions were over looked and impromptu jackings were just considered 'maintenace' for regular troops.

It just becomes part of regular military life and you take your beatings. There is no harassment councilor you can complain too (well technically there is, but you'll never be looked at seriously again as a soldier). As time goes on the most severe jacking becomes a funny story in the military and guys can be often heard swapping stories. So to the outsider looking in it seems barbaric but to everyone in 'the game' it's just part of the rules.

But before I go let me tell you that from an instructors point of view the administration of a jacking takes a lot more skill and poise than it looks. So much so that most carry a reputation for how well or to what degree they can administer jackings. A make of a good jacker is being able to calibrate the degree of the the abuse they can administer dependent on the soldier recieving it. I mean the idea is to make you think about how you screwed up. Not make you want to kill yourself. It's all about correcting an action which is the line between rehabilitation and punishment.

It's an art really. Like painting with a brush dipped in tears.


  1. Reminds me of one film, where the soldier went to the councilor and since then all his mates turned his back to him. Finally he left the military service and suicided

  2. It sounds like a big mind!@#$ lol. I would never want to be in that position.

  3. hahah i heard that drill instructors really are dicks like in the movies

  4. My friend's two older brother are both US Marine Drill Instructors, they had to go to a school to learn how to properly "jack up" recruits. It truly is a fine art.

  5. lol'd at his face in the last pic

  6. so they need to "calibrate the degree of..."the jacking?" haha. insane

  7. The entire post made me think about Full Metal Jacket (and I guess it's the movie Pantheon was talking about).

  8. This sounds way more effective than what they do in civilian jobs.

  9. Wow, this is a really beatiful post, nicely written and terribly interesting.

    As for the jacking, the way you describe makes it sound just like that stuff you see in the movies. Pretty hardcore.
    Nah, I prefer my situation as a civillian. But each to their own I guess :P

    Then again, here were I live going to a harassment councelor as a soldier probably is the standard procedure. We don't have soldiers who "get looked at seriously" in the German Bundeswehr ;)