I've done a decent search of the forum and haven't come across this story yet so I thought it might be helpful to share. It's done the rounds on numerous Australian forums. Mind you, the story is back from sometime in 2002 or earlier and was written by a reservist doing the 45 day course. Since then things have changed, and from my experience with the 28 day course, what recruits now go through has been toned down.
If the mods don't feel the story to be appropriate in any way so be it. I"ll just post the first part (there are 4 parts altogether) for now and if there is no drama as to the content I'll post the rest.
Edit: The guy goes by the name of Brendan Hall.
Civilian to Soldier in 7 weeks
Anyone wanting to join the Australian army, weather it be joining Infantry, armored, catering or band corps, must first endure 7 weeks of training at ARTC (Army recruit training centre) down on the NSW/Victoria border in a place called Kapooka.
The first night at Kapooka is easily the worst. I can only describe what I went through, but I would imagine they do the same process for everyone. You arrive there at about 11pm at night, after a 7 hour bus trip from Sydney. Everyone on the bus is talking and everyone is starting to make new friends and spirits are generally high.
…then you pass through the gates of the base. It’s quite a grand entrance, with 2 large WW2 artillery guns on either side of the roadway and a brass plaque directly ahead saying “BLAMEY BARRACKS”. I noticed that as we drove through the gates, everyone just seemed to go silent, as though they had just realized that after all the talk and bragging about joining the army, they had finally arrived and the time for talk was over.
The bus drove for another 2 minutes and the parked outside a large building, lights on and several silhouetted figures standing outside. Military Police. The bus door opened and one of them stepped on and everyone automatically went rigid. The guy had and air of authority about him so strong it was almost tangible. His first words were “Welcome to ARTC, you stupid shitheads, you’re in my army now and if you f*** with me, I’ll skull-fuck you then throw you in the cells.” His voice cool and calm.
….nobody said a word
“Now get the f*** off the bus”
As soon as we went to move he started screaming “hurry the f*** up” while pushing us out the door. We grabbed out bags from underneath the bus and were quickly herded into the building by another 4 MP’s who were screaming insults at us the whole way. One of the girls wet herself. I remember one of the MP’s yelling at the top of his lungs at me as I was running into the building. “What the f*** are you doing here, you fat, ugly piece of shit. You won’t last 3 days here fuckwit before I have to come and drag your fat ass out the gate, now get the f*** in there.” All I was thinking, as I’m sure everyone else was thinking was how much of a mistake it was coming here and how soon we could leave again.
Once inside the building, they lined us up in 3 rows (or ‘ranks’ as they call it) and one of the MP’s gave us a quick speech on some of the basic policy: No drugs, no sex, how to address various ranks, where we can and can’t go ECT…
Then our platoon sergeant came and got us and marched us down to the building where we would be living for the next 7 weeks. He was a nice guy, calling us ‘team’ and after the thrashing we got from the MP’s, we were glad to find out that not everyone here was as psychotic as them. He told us about himself, what he had done in his career and why he was at ARTC. As he walked us down to ‘the lines’ (the name the army gives to our accommodation) we were all letting out quiet sighs of relief.
I suspected that it was some kind of good cop/bad cop routine, designed to mess with us and my suspicion turned out to be right. No sooner than he has us standing outside the lines, he said “and now I’ll leave you in the hands of my capable staff. Corporals, take over”
…and then it went to hell.
Our 4 corporals, who we never saw standing on the stairs outside the lines then opened up at the top of their lungs “get the f*** up here, put your bag in your left hand and don’t say a f***ing word. You’re in our world now and we won’t hesitate to f*** you up!!!”
It may sound comical now, written down, but trust me, when a 110kg Infantry corporal is shouting at you at 130 db, it loses any kind of humorous value. We all raced up the stairs and entered ‘the lines’.
The lines are basically just a long corridor with rooms branching off on either side. At then end of the corridor there is a small foyer and a big room where all the toilets and showers are.
Next too the doorway to each room there was a piece of paper with our names on it. You had to find your room and stand next to your doorway, still holding your bag in your left hand. The corporals walked up and down the corridor, screaming at us to stand at attention (head up, eyes looking directly to the front, arms locked into the sides, feet together and back straight). We were still holding our bags in our left hand. I was lucky, since I didn’t pack very much and my bag was light, but some of the other guys had these full suitcases weighing a ton. One of the guys dropped his bag on the ground because he couldn’t hold it anymore and immediately all 4 corporals converged on him and screamed their heads off at him, calling him every name under the sun, saying things like “how the f*** are you going to get through this place if you can’t even do a simple thing like hold a bag in your f***ing hand recruit!”
“I’m not sure” was all he could say, no doubt crapping himself.
“You call me CORPORAL, recruit. f***ing CORPORAL!!! You got that in your head, fuckwit!”
“Uh…yes corporal” he said in a timid voice
“What’s the matter with you recruit, can’t you speak loud or something. When you answer me, you will yell it out, motherfucker.”
“Now shut the f*** up, recruit”
That one guy got it worse than any of us that night; the corporals basically used him as a practice dummy so the rest of us would get the idea. He lasted one day then left due to ‘medical reasons’. I felt sorry for the guy.
They then gave us some more talk about some stuff that I can’t quite remember, and then told us to get into bed. We peeled off into our rooms and got into the shitty, 40-year-old beds, but none of us slept a wink.
The next few days were spent with mostly administrative type things: vaccinations, getting all our gear from the Q-store, learning some more basic drill moves and getting introduced to PT (physical training).
Most people dreaded PT lessons, since most PTI’s (Physical Training Instructors) didn’t stop working you until someone either cried, bled or spewed. Luckily I had the foresight to get my fitness right up before I left, so I didn’t have too much of a problem with it, but there were a few people who copped it terribly. Mainly the girls in the platoon and the smokers. If you smoke and want into the army, my advice is to quit before you go to Kapooka. On all the runs, we had the super-mega athletes in a group way in front, then the main body of the platoon in a pack then the smokers in another smaller group straggling behind. The PTI’s go to special lengths to ‘punish’ the smokers by making them do extra PT while the rest of us take breaks. The PTI’s are toned, chiseled and totally buff and their basic philosophy is that your body is your temple, so they hate smokers. (Note: most of the PTI’s are men, but there are a few women and they are total hotties. I used to look forward to PT if I knew one of them was taking us.). Some of the ‘fun’ things you do in PT are:
-Rope climbing (rope burn city, beware)
-RDJ (Run, Dodge, Jump) (basically just a small little obstacle course you have to finish in under 60 seconds)
-Swimming circuits (the PTI’s favourite)
-Interval training (Running, running and more running)
-Core stability training (for those rock hard abs)
-Obstacle course (heaps of fun, but easy to injure yourself)
-Fitness circuits (Every PTI has their own unique way of torturing you)
there is more, but those are the more common ones.
On the second day we went to the armory and got issued our rifles and bayonets. It’s weird just being given this automatic weapon so casually. You haven’t been taught how to use (or even hold) it yet, so your nervous as all hell that you might accidentally do something and shoot somebody (even though all the weapons were clear). It was kind of cool though, and everyone was feeling pretty hardcore, standing around, hanging onto these mean looking rifles. Then we took them back to the armory in our lines and didn’t see them again for another 2 weeks.
I was told that if you make it through the first 2 weeks, you’ll make it through to the end and this certainly held true in our platoon. In the first 2 weeks, 4 people left because of mental burnout and one left from injury which we *suspected* was self inflicted. After 2 weeks it definitely got easier, though not because of any slackening on the part of the staff. It just takes about that long for you to adjust to the military lifestyle. A corporal yelling at you isn’t nearly so bad when you know that the yelling is their expected reaction to something, rather than it taking you by surprise. After 2 weeks you starting to make a few friends in your platoon and by this stage you’ve worked out the daily routine, so you know what to expect and when to expect it.
The first 2-3 weeks are spent mainly in the classroom, learning all kinds of boring crap that my brain automatically discarded, which is why I’m at a loss to tell you about it. The number one-mega-super-golden rule of the classroom is: DON’T FALL ASLEEP…
I’m serious. They work you pretty hard and whenever you sit down you begin to feel drowsy. Believe me; towards the end of an 80 minute lecture about how to use a compass, it’s so hard to stay awake. Drink lots of water and that helps keep you awake, with the downside being that you will want to leave to take a piss (and they don’t let you leave during class. ever). If you do fall asleep, you’re dead, especially if it’s the Platoon Sergeant or Platoon Commander giving the lesson. I’ll leave it at that. DO NOT FALL ASLEEP. As I said before, the classes are pretty boring and the pace is so slow it borders on ridiculous. If the lecturer was giving the lesson to a group of normal-intelligence people, it would take 10 minutes tops, but since there are ALOT of dumbasses in the army, they have to slow the pace down to near-kinder garden speed. Despite this, there are always a few of the morons at the end of the lesson scratching their empty heads, while the rest of us are almost in tears from the tedium of it all. It’s understandable, since the army has to teach at the rate of the slowest person, but it gets oh-so boring if you’re even a little bit brainy.
The Food is actually pretty good, despite what some people say. Of course, it’s not as good as ‘mum’s cooking’, but what ever is, hey? Breakfast was my favourite meal, since they array a plethora of bacon, eggs, beans, spaghetti and whatever was left over from the previous night’s dinner (usually pasta or something). Alternatively, there is a bar witch has almost every cereal known to man on it. I’m a big cereal eater, so usually stuck to this end of the breakfast line. It was a good idea to have a light breakfast because you usually do PT directly afterwards and people (PTI’s especially) hate it when you barf up a big breakfast during core-stability training.
Lunch and Dinner are usually pretty similar in regards to what is served, you get the usual range of cooked veggies and the main dishes are usually pasta of some kind, beef or lamb sliced, meat pies and sometimes fish or meatloaf. They usually have some other varying things, depending on the day. Desert is pretty much just lamingtons (in the brown and pink (commonly known as fag-tons) varieties) and chocolate cake. There is also heaps of ice-cream and custard if you want it. Because I’m so slender and plan to have a successful career as a male model (err, yeah), I took the other option, the boring option: Yoghurt and fruit. They put something in the food to kill your sex drive. Speaking as a normal red-blooded 20 year old, I can tell you that whatever they put in, it works. You don’t even think about sex the whole time your there (as opposed to about 7 times a minute before you get there). I reckon this is a good thing, since training would be heaps harder being sexually frustrated, also cracking a fat while on the obstacle course could lead to some serious injury. I think realistically they do it because it also brings down your aggression, so we weren’t biffing each other constantly.
Weapons Training. “SWEET” I thought to myself as the corporal unlocked the armory and handed us out our weapons again. After our first lesson, believe me, I was not thinking “SWEET” anymore. Before you even think about loading ammunition into your weapon, you have to run through 2 weeks of seemingly endless safety drills. Don’t get me wrong, they are absolutely vital and must be done, but they get so boring, just going over the same stuff over and over again. Still, you do feel slightly more badass holding a rifle than you do in the classroom, on the verge of sleep, being taught the intricacies of “why bullets kill you”. The worst part about weapons handling is having to clean the bastards afterwards. Your rifle had to be SPOTLESS. Every shot fired from it equates to about 2 minutes in cleaning time. On some range days you’re churning as many as 90 rounds through the sucker, so it’s not all fun and games.
“SUPER SWEET” I thought as we headed down to the range, “Finally we get to do something cool”. As before, my thoughts betrayed me and I found out that shooting isn’t as cool as I previously thought. Having never fired a gun before in my life, I was behind the 8-ball to begin with, since most of the other lads were from the country and had spent the last 5 years of their youth shooting ‘roos, possums, passing traffic, sheep and whatever else country hicks class as ‘pests’. They spend a few hours teaching you ‘marksmanship principles’ and some ‘projectile physics’ stuff. I remember the range master telling us at the beginning of the lesson on ‘marksmanship principles’:
“Today you will be taught marksmanship principles. The reason you are being taught this is so that you, as Australian soldiers, can put air-conditioning in the enemies head, make orphans of his children and steal his wallet & watch”
The best part was that he said it with such genuine intent, making it all the more funny. We had a bit of a laugh.
“Shut the f*** up, recruits! He’ll be the one laughing when you’ve got a 7.62mm hole in your skull, shitheads. This isn’t a laughing matter.” We weren’t sure what to make of the guy, he was a bit crazy.
Last edited by whisk on Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.