Sunday, May 14, 2006


I saw this on the ITV news last night- a quick search didn't turn up any hits for the story anywhere but their website. Here's the gist of it- a phone video has surfaced of Army recruits in a CS gas chamber. The instructors can be heard laughing at the discomfort of a recruit as he struggles to breathe and then throws up. ITV is crying "abuse".

I can't believe it- this is a standard part of of training. Recruits get their NBC gear on and enter the gas chamber to make sure that their equipment is functioning properly. The drill then involves taking off your respirator and being asked your number and/or a question or two. As you're in a room filled with CS gas, it's an uncomfortable few moments. My instructors had a good laugh as us too, as we struggled to talk and answer questions (some of them pretty amusing from what I recall) keeping us in the room long enough to get a good dose of the stuff. One by one we staggered out of the building coughing and spluttering with our eyes and noses running uncontrollably (all but one of us- a single guy in my troop was immune to the stuff, he walked out singing "Macho Man" at the top of his voice). None of us thought we'd just been "abused"- if fact, we all thought it was a great experience.

I am staggered that the Army is going to waste time and resources on such a trivial, non-incident.


Bag said...

How can you say it is a non story when for years now if they are shouted at they can complain and the shouting stops or if they can't climb things they are allowed to just go round? It's not the same army you are thinking of. I only hope the bad guys give them a bit of allowance when they are shooting at them.

Jay.Mac said...

It's been nearly ten years since I was in the service so yeah, things probably have changed- on my first day our drill instructor took us out, lined us up and told us that no one was allowed to swear at us in case it upset anyone. When he confirmed that we understood the rule he then proceeded to unleash a barrage of expletives which would have made a sailor blush. Much to our delight.

No one- no one at all- would ever have gotten away with not completing a task in the Royal Marines. And I'm sure that someone failing a physical task in the Army would not pass beyond that level in their training either. Things aren't as bad as the media makes out, Sergeants and Corporals tend not to think too highly of political correctness. And soldiers have been saying that this generation of soldiers aren't as good since the days of Alexander the Great.

I point this out as a non-story because it happens to everyone- only someone not familiar with the military (i.e. a journalist) would try to pass this off as an abuse story. I recommend that all journalists wishing to work as defence correspondents all be made to complete at least the first phase of basic training. The military might get a little bit more respect and understanding then.