The pandemic is partly responsible for wiping out another tradition that up until now had stood the test of time.
Say goodbye to the “Shark Attack” welcome that Army recruits have been forced to endure as they enter basic training.
If you’re not familiar with details of the Shark Attack, it’s the reception that drill sergeants use to prepare trainees for the intensity of their upcoming basic training. The most menacing and intimidating leaders jump all over the new recruits, barking in their ears and ordering them to perform physical punishments like pushups, and other grueling activities white their packed duffel bags are hanging on their backs.
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Fortenberry is the CSM of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He described what the Shark Attack was during a video presentation at the 2020 Maneuver Warfighter Conference.
“Commonly referred to as the shark attack, this non-documented period of instruction was developed during our draft Army years.
“Drill sergeants were charged with the [evaluating] trainees’ ability to handle stress, singling out the perceived undesirables by enveloping them in a manner that emulated a shark attack,” he continued. “This activity, however, does not instill the spirit of the infantry; it betrays the innate trust between teammates and, worse, betrays the crucial bond of trust with our leaders.”
What a perfect description.
The new gentler training methods are designed to put the trainees through mentally and physical challenges that will build a foundation of belief in one’s self, their teammates and their leaders.
The pandemic played a role in the shark attack’s demise because the Army felt recruits were already dealing with enough stress. Essentially, they want to build a level of respect with their drill sergeants and leadership as opposed to any animosity that might come for the intensity of the shark attack.
The Army is planning to study the effects of their new method, and see if it reduces attrition.