“Drop and give me 50” is back in fashion, thanks to an updated Army regulation that allows exercise as punishment for minor infractions.
The Army has struggled for years to balance tough discipline with what could be considered bullying. The new regulation requires soldiers to be treated with “dignity and respect,” but it also gives leaders leeway when it comes to punishing scofflaws without resorting to formal administrative punishments or counseling statements.
“Brief physical exercises are an acceptable form of corrective training for minor acts of indiscipline (for example, requiring the soldier to do pushups for arriving late to formation), so long as it does not violate the Army’s policies prohibiting hazing, bullying, and unlawful punishment,” the new policy says.
The regulation titled “Army Command Policy” also allows assigning soldiers extra duty to correct their behavior.
“Such measures assume the nature of training or instruction, not punishment,” the regulation says. “Corrective training should continue only until the training deficiency is overcome. Authority to use it is part of the inherent powers of command.”
The new rule solves one problem for leaders: The regulation as it was laid down in 2014 gave them little choice but to write soldiers up for even minor offenses, a step that could lead to administrative punishment, courts-martial and discharge.
The new rule gives leaders an off-ramp that can correct problems without ushering troops out of the Army or filling their personnel files with paperwork that will haunt their careers.
“Deficiencies satisfactorily corrected by means of training and instruction will not be noted in the official records of the soldiers concerned,” the regulation states.
While the new rule clearly outlines harassment and bullying, it also says “harassment does not include properly directed command activities that serve a legitimate purpose, or the requisite training activities required to prepare for such activities.”
Use of the new pantheon of punishment will be overseen by leaders who will face punishments of their own if they go too far.
“Care should be taken at all levels of command to ensure that training and instruction are not used in an oppressive manner to evade the procedural safeguards inherent to the imposition of nonjudicial punishment,” the rules say.
The new rules work to carefully distance the service from past practices, when leaders could arbitrarily call out troops and use now-banned tools from foul language to a right-cross to the chin.
“... We all have an obligation to know, enforce and take appropriate action in accordance with Army Command Policy,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said in a message to troops.
It also puts more responsibility for discipline in Army units on sergeants.
“The changes empower NCOs to lean on nonpunitive measures as a form of corrective training to address minor deficiencies,” Sgt. Maj. Jasmine Johnson, the top enlisted soldier overseeing command policies, said in a statement.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx