Getting Smoked

Hey, all. Above is a pic of a private holding his rucksack above his head. He’s being “smoked.”

Back from a pretty amazing vacation. We had a lot of fun.

Now it’s time to do things again.

I happened upon this article, which is a pretty good story. This is what getting smoked is all about- instilling discipline through physical exercise. Being legally tormented to lengths of pain and exhaustion that are difficult to comprehend.

In the US Army, outside of extreme circumstances, you cannot beat the shit out of someone to enforce discipline. I’m not going to say it doesn’t happen, because it does, but you better have a damn good reason or you are in deep shit.

What you can do is apply corrective physical training, which is known as “smoking.”

I have been smoked beyond all reason and have given the smokings in turn.

This is because I came up through the ranks as a junior enlisted troop, reached NCO rank, then ended my career as an officer.

NCOs are generally the ones who hand out smokings. If an officer smokes you, you have really, really fucked up, and after he’s done, then the NCOs will take over until the offending soldier is a quivering mass of jelly, usually covered in sand or pine needles and mud.

Hmm, what are things I’ve done to deserve a smoking.

The list is long.

First, nothing. Someone else screwed up, and everyone paid. The one who caused everyone to get smoked? He’d pay later, after the NCOs went to bed.

Next, flicking a cigarette butt where it didn’t belong. Or, forgetting to button a button in an inspection. Not cleaning the latrine properly. Showing up drunk to formation. The list is long. Very long.

One of the worst, most painful experiences I had was something I don’t remember. But I do remember what happened.

We were in our Class A’s (dress uniform). Something happened. Don’t know what. We were ordered to “open ranks.” Basically, this is an inspection formation. Everyone spaces themselves out. The command “dress right, dress” is given to ensure the ranks are perfectly straight. When a soldier hears this command, they turn their head sharply to the right and extend their left arm at a 90-degree angle, pointing at the next soldier in line. The next command is usually “ready, front.” When you hear this, you drop your arm, turn your head straight, and return to the position of attention.

On that cursed day, it didn’t happen. Our arms remained perfectly rigid and extended, our heads cocked sharply to the right.

After a few minutes, my arm and neck began to ache terribly. Our sergeants watched implacably. A fellow in front of me, his arm began to tremble. Soon, everyone was doing it. It went on and on. An NCO walked down the lines, he started snatching “cunt caps” (garrison caps) from people’s heads and placing them on the tips of their trembling hands.

The minute weight of the garrison hats was too much. A soldier dropped his arm, utterly exhausted. Screaming ensued. “Are you letting your fucking hat kick your ass, retard? Get your fucking arm up!”

“I can’t!”

“Then get on the ground with your cap and do the front leaning rest.” (The push-up position. Also bad!)

I’m not sure for how long this went on under the blazing Southern skies, but it seemed an eternity.

We were wrecked by holding a simple body position through following a lawful order. Not a single blow was given. Very little was said. I’ve never seen this in a movie, and I don’t think you will. I never forgot how effective it was. You don’t need to hit anyone. Simple exercise or body position will do. Even simple children’s games like “Leapfrog” can become the worst torture.

Years later, I stood before my platoon. They had fucked up. They knew it, you could hear a pin drop. I looked them over and spoke a simple command.

“Open ranks, march.”

It was the gift that kept on giving.

Looking back on things, we were given a choice. Follow lawful orders and get what’s coming to you, or, bitch up and get paperwork.

Smoking’s better, trust me.

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