Slate has an interesting piece up on the current state of that Marine Corps Army indoctrinator, the fearsome drill instructor sergeant. I have it on good authority from my nephew, who is currently serving valiantly, that there's definite truth to this article about Teresa King, one of the first female D.I.'s currently making sure the recruits are "squared away." It started with 9/11.
In the period after 9/11, the Army was losing about 10 percent of its volunteer recruits during boot camp, a number that was way too high, especially given the Army's trouble meeting recruitment quotas and the growing demand for troops first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq. To help keep people in basic training, drill sergeants reined in the verbal abuse and began providing more mentorship.
If a recruit is acting petulant, the drill sergeant may ask him what's wrong—or ask his friends. He'll give tips for how to get along with peers in close quarters, how to get by on an Army paycheck, and how to handle homesickness.
So, is this a step in the right direction for the military, or a laming down of the troops?