Role and Value of the Regiment

I’m really coming late to this thread but thought I would add some perspective. I’m the son and nephew of Ft Schuyler grads and a grad of VMI and a retired Army officer now working for a very large multinational manufacturing company- so I have some understanding of the role and value of the regiment . While my Alma Mater carries the military indoctrination and military environment to an extreme that I don’t believe Ft Schuyler ever did - I think that there are several takeaways from any structured military environment. These include:

  1. Rapidly teaching Cadets that they can effectively function even under psychological, physical and time pressures. This is probably even more important today when people routinely expect the world to stop and relax when they are tired. Regardless of profession - if you are dealing with people and dynamic environments- you will have to function and make choices under stressful conditions.
  2. Priorities. Even when some flamer is screaming at you that you have to shine something or get something done NOW!!!- you discover that may not be the thing that must be your first priority. So you have to learn how to prioritize- and sometimes take the immediate but ultimately lesser pain that comes with making a hard call about what is really important.
  3. Teamwork: Virtually every military indoctrination system is designed to impress upon you that there are things more important than your own personal advantage. Real success comes from getting the team across the finish line- not sprinting out and leaving your teammates behind.
  4. Integrity: Personal honor and integrity matters - your word needs to be unquestioned. Whether in the Military, aboard Ship or in Industry- the person who is seen as always being a straight shooter is a highly valued commodity- they are the one who doesn’t get second guessed or micro-managed from above and they are the ones who get the resources when they report a problem and left to be on their own when they report a mission accomplished or well in hand.
  5. Finally - Loyalty and devotion to the organization through shared experiences. I promise that I am far closer to my classmates 40 years out than my counterparts at NYU from the 1970s are. There is a reason that the Alumni Associations of the Military and Maritime Colleges ( whether from VMI or the Citadel or Mass Maritime or SUNY Maritime etc…) have the long term ties that they do- shared experiences and hardships bind them together.
    There is always somebody who bleats about the “real world” not being like the artificial world of the Regiment- but it misses the point completely. I believe that the graduate who comes through a hard experience is a better person , more prepared to deal with a hard world than those who faced no challenges not of their own making.
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I gotta say, while everything you write is true and good, it’s not applicable in big parts of the offshore/blue water fleets today, unfortunately. While a highly regimented, military environments do a lot of character building, it does not teach you how to survive effectively in the private sectors in so many obvious and subtle ways. But then I’m old and cynical these days!

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Regiment has rules, lots of rules…how to walk, when to study, when to sleep, can’t skip class. Many claim this instills “responsibility, self discipline, teamwork” and all that jazz.

A normal university lets a student go drinking and partying on a Wednesday night, no curfew, no mandatory study hall, usually nobody taking attendance. In short, nobody is there to hand hold or force students to do their work, learn, and not get drunk every night.

Which environment truly requires more self discipline and responsibility?

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I think you are missing my point. The Military routines and traditions at any of the Academies, as well as the Military Colleges are not there as tools of the trade to be used post graduation - (and haven’t been since the Civil War which was the last time that marching and flanking and fixing bayonets was professionally necessary). Rather - they teach you that with organization, perseverance and determination and integrity you have the tools to be successful. And the graduates by and large really are successful- regardless of the field they ultimately pursue. The Maritime Colleges are not really just trade schools- most alumni don’t spend their entire careers on a ship any more than my fellow VMI graduates only go into the Service. But virtually every organization - in industry , in the transportation and logistics world, in The military and government values having leaders and managers who have learned and possess the attributes learned in the disciplines and rigors of the military framework found at the schools.The current CEO of Nucor Steel is a Ft Schuyler grad- ( John Ferriola). They don’t parade or PT there - but I believe that he would tell you that the attributes he learned as a Cadet gave him the personal tools to succeed as a leader . As a GM in a manufacturing company - the best engineer I have had the privilege of hiring and then promoting repeatedly, was a Mass Maritime grad who came ashore after 6 years sailing. What made him so good ( and he is now a GM at another midsize manufacturing company ) were the things that he took from MMA and the Regimented experience he gained there- the value of time, persistence, communication skills, the ability to focus on the highest priority issues, personal integrity. So yes - those things aren’t found on a licensing exam but they absolutely are of value and valued in almost any organization that I can think of - and I have to believe they are of value afloat as well as ashore. And I’m 62 so I too can be old and cranky but I do have a fair amount of experience in the Army and in the international corporate world andI have yet to see an organization that doesn’t value people who possess those attributes.

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Is it self discipline and responsibility that the regiment imbues in its members or is it an ability to eat shit for as long as it takes to get through to the other side? Plenty of people gave up during my time going through because the regimented lifestyle wore them down. Not to say that going to sea bares any real resemblance to the regiment at an academy, but I’d rather be at sea with people that aren’t going to give up when it starts getting tough.

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A regiment is important, but at least at SUNY, I have seen the regiment been treated as a joke. The cadets don’t follow the rules and the officers barely enforce them.

Or, what made him good was he was a smart man with innate talent that he developed. And it had very little to do with MMA/Regiment life. Correlation != causation. Learning the skills mentioned (value of time, persistence, etc) are not exclusive to a maritime academy or a regiment. And I can make the argument that in fact, because the regiment essentially babysits those with poor skills and poor responsibility via many rules and “traditions”, people that would naturally fail due to lack of self discipline are able to “succeed”.

Sociopaths are often very successful in organizations to require underlings to “eat shit”. People with normal demeanor and senses often will punch out instead of eating tons of shit. What exists the other side of the meat-grinder is often not very pleasant.

To say a person is more likely to not give up when life gets tough at sea because they marched around and got yelled at by people 1 or 2 years older than them (that feel they rule the world) is pretty ridiculous. Any academically challenging university degree (especially engineering) requires people to not give up…and I fail to see how being humiliated and forced to play toy soldier will make somebody better; the desired character traits are part of one’s DNA.

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Five minutes before the inspections my roommates and I sprayed some water down on the deck and quickly wiped it with a mop. Results in a shiny deck and a “attaboy” from whoever inspects it.

The guys next door spent the full day before stripping and rewaxing. Got told to redo it.

They want you to polish the protective coating off your belt buckle. (I have no idea why its important to learn how to polish brass.) Instead you just leave the protective layer on, When they tell you good job you can just say: “Thank you! I spent all night on it!”

PSC inspectors just want to see the same performance (bullshit) art I already perfected.

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And that’s one of the most valuable lessons you can learn at a so called “regimented” university to get on in the private sector. It’s not pretty, but it’s realistic.

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Playing the game a regurgitating the proper bullshit is part of all modern day university life, not just “regiments.” This is especially true for “humanities” and “liberal arts” classes. Play the game, tell the commie professor what they want to hear, get the piece of paper, make the cheddar.

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One of the few people who I had to write up 3 times & fire was a 2 A/E nicknamed Gorgi. He came with a reputation of getting ran off & sure enough by the end of his first hitch no one wanted to work with him. He wasn’t a self-starter, couldn’t handle multilayered instructions & generally didn’t know what to do with himself. Saying he was a watchstander only officer is being too generous. After Gorgi’s 3rd write up I called the HR manager & told him somewhere in the fleet we had a C/E or 1A/E who was a micromanager that most didn’t want to work for. I told the HR guy that my team’s “the end result is what counts” management style wasn’t for Gorgi & that he wasn’t going to make it with us. The HR took my advice & Gorgi wasn’t sent back. I ran into Gorgi a few years later at a hotel’s restaurant-bar while in transit & he thanked me for getting him transferred. He was still working for a real micromanaging asshole, the longest he ever stayed on one ship.

This reconfirmed what I already thought about most things in the world. There’s seldom one solution for all problems. People need to get in where they fit in. Round block into round hole, square block into square hole. Don’t break the blocks or holes.

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Easily the most intelligent thing that’s been posted on this thread. Absolutely.

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So by the transitive properties, in essence, if I catch your meaning, all successful sailors are sociopaths? Thanks for the affirmation🤓.

BTW I wasn’t trying to say that one had to attend an academy to be successful at sea. Just that those that decided they would rather wake up whenever they wanted, not stand out in the rain turning wrenches, or muck a rose box every now and again, were far better off not being part of the industry. It is not for everyone and a regiment tended to save everyone a lot of time in self discovery in my opinion.

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I went through the Regimental ( Corps of Midshipmen) system at California Maritime Academy in the 60’s. Was it fun ? No ! Especially as an underclassman, and not even as a First Class Midshipman. Did we learn a lot ? Absolutely. Each person had upperclassmen and classmates that they respected, and several that they did not. I strongly remember two bas#@8ds in the class ahead of me who screamed in my face ( not that I had any problem hearing someone 4 inches from my nose ) that they had made it their calling to drive me out of the Corps. Little did they know that every time that they did that I was looking them straight in the eyes and saying to myself " If Bas@8ds like that can make it, so can I " I was fortunate to have several classmates who when we were upperclassmen maintained discipline, but were never abusive of their positions.
As to the comment about folks giving up, well, the standards for military pilots requires very good vision and reflexes. Are these needed to fly a plane ? No, but if you have more candidates for a position than you have openings, well, just raise the bar and refine your pool of applicants. I have walked away from several “jobs” and “employers”, but I never quit being the person who graduated from the Academy.

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My experience was similar, but in AF OTS, Class 62B. The course, the lectures and exercise, and the mentoring I received on active duty was based on a very specific model of leadership which could be summarized as Iron Fist in Velvet Glove. If you didn’t know how to wield the Iron Fist you were doomed to failure and if you didn’t know how to practice the Velvet Glove you were just a petty despot whose subordinates will hate you and sabotage you at the first opportunity. You were expected to push your people hard and yourself harder. “Twelve O’Clock High” was shown as a training film. I got the DVD and watched it with my grandson a year or so ago. Still a pretty good movie.

And, like ARK2, jobs have come and gone and the world has changed but I haven’t.

Cheers,

Earl

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A regimented environment that forces kids to wake, eat, study and sleep on a schedule teaches kids to wake, eat, study and sleep on a schedule. (Prisons also have a regimented lifestyle and are highly successful at teaching convicts to follow rules. Does that mean convicts would make excellent merchant marine officers?)

What industry - every industry - needs are people who can figure out when to wake, eat, study and sleep on their own. Those that can figure it out should graduate and gain employment. Those that can’t should fail, get kicked out and find less demanding jobs.

It’s weird both of you would say that. Most new 3rd Mates & 3 A/E that I have worked with seem like totally different people after 2 or 3 years out of college after entering the real world. The few that don’t change stick out like a soar thumbs & usually get fired for drinking too much or pulling some stupid shit that quit being funny years ago.

I didn’t go the regiment route but enjoy working with those who did just as I enjoy fellow hawspipers & even foreign officers. As long as they’re professionals & get the job done is all I care about.

I know I have changed as a person since I received my first license at 21 & have no regrets for doing so. I’ve always been a hard worker but I know now I wasn’t the best that I’ve could of been. I drink a hell of a lot less now. I have no desire to be dogface drunk & feel no need to drink every day or week. I think more before I speak & try to weigh the concequences first. I have a life outside of my work now, this is a means to an end. My profession isn’t me to the end anymore. I take less risks. I’m more patient & can’t even remember when I felt I had to prove myself to anyone. I’ve had a lot of off-the-wall shit happen to me & this has made me more understanding & less critical of coworkers. Before I would describe myself as cocky, now I’m probably more rolly-polly & don’t promise anything. My view & relationships with the opposit sex is vastly different now. I don’t know if it is because of being older, my years of marriage or me being a dad to a girl but I feel regret & shame for things that I used to brag about. I wasn’t as honest & considerate as I should have been when dating. Thank goodness I was never an angry, malicious or lazy person. My work ethic is the same but I’m glad I’ve changed into the middle age guy that I am now. Over the years I have known dozens of great academy grads who changed right along with me so I think you two guys would be the exception if you haven’t.

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Certainly I have changed in many ways. Less hair, a much wider waste ( but I can still use my belt from the academy ) Lots of job experience and a couple of sets of alphabet over the years, but when I say that I never quit being the person who graduated from the academy that means : Honor is still an important virtue, Truthfulness is not just expected, but lived, Respect is shown to everyone until they demonstrate that they do not deserve it, Help people you do not know, and will most likely never see again, Teach others, especially our youth, Never stop learning. I am older, heavier, balder, scared, and proud of the folks who taught me respect and ethics when I was a child.

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I think the difference between my experience and the academy grads you describe is the that I did plenty of stupid shit but it was all before the Air Force and marriage (56 years and counting :-)) And it wasn’t just the regimentation of 12 weeks of OTS that did it, it was the subsequent four years of serving with and under some very impressive officers and NCOs. ARK2 has described the outcome perfectly. After I joined the civilian work force I mellowed (a little) and slowed down (a little) until cancer treatment told me I was well and truly retired.

Cheers,

Earl

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I think it may be a bit the opposite. Successful sailors are at sea with a small group of fellow sailors and must rely on this group to get the job done (and survive). I’m sure sociopaths exist, but the environment doesn’t seem very conducive for them to survive…except maybe cruise ship captains LOL