Hazing and the military
It was late December 2011 and Pfc. Thomas Nguyen, 20, had just landed at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, where members of his Georgia National Guard unit were taking part in peacekeeping operations. Inside the tactical operations center, after a few questions about his predeployment training, Nguyen’s first sergeant gestured toward the wooden board and told the young private that waterboarding was a training requirement in the field.
Was it a lighthearted joke or meant to instill fear?
While no attempt was made to torture the private, the insinuation was enough to convince senior Army leaders that 1st Sgt. Brett R. Paul had committed a crime.
Does that seem a bit.....thin to you? It certainly did to the commander of the unit.
“I don’t believe these things they were accused of rose to the level of court-martial,” Lt. Col. Joe Lynch, commander of the Georgia’s 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, told Stars and Stripes.
“Was there some inappropriate behavior? I think there was. There was some college prank type stuff.”
The push to prosecute three soldiers, all of whom faced potential prison time, was an unprecedented overreaction by senior Army leaders, Lynch said.
“I’ve never seen this level of reaction to what is essentially an EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) complaint,” he said. “We chose the nuclear option when we could have chosen small-arms fire. We as leaders failed our soldiers on this one.”
I got busted for hazing at The Citadel, and I have brands on my arm, so perhaps I'm not the most objective one to discuss this. But these guys got in trouble for gesturing at a board and saying the private would be waterboarded? Messing with privates was a rite of passage. Every grunt I ever met sent the newbies off to find a box of grid squares or some squelch for the PRC-E6.
So, what level does it go from prank to hazing? I don't know, but I would have had a hard time finding for the prosecution here I think.