Friday, August 1, 2008

Besting "Beasting"

BBC reports on the acquittal of Army personnel whose junior colleague died after being subjected to harsh physical exercise as punishment for a misdemeanor. Pte Gavin Williams, 22, of Hengoed, Caerphilly, collapsed and died at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth in 2006.

Admittedly, I need to know more about the details - I don't mean to be insensitive to this family's terrible loss; and it does sound like these soldiers went too far. But will someone who has spent time in the military explain to me and the rest of the ignorant civilians how "beasting" is qualitatively different from disciplinary exercise generally? And if it's not to be however-many pushups or a long hike for insubordination, what are we back to in order to keep recruits in line? Flogging?


Complex Terrain Lab said...

Beasting: term applied frequently and loosely to any form of demanding physical activity. Often thought of if in terms of PT, as in a 10km run being "a good beasting" or staff "giving a good beasting" when putting a section through training. I can see how it would easily translate to this kind of thing, though I've never heard it applied to what might otherwise be known as hazing (in the extreme).

Cleitus the Black said...

It's worth noting that this was an affair of the British Army, and not of their renegade colonial offshoot, the United States.

A more detailed response will be posted presently.

hank_F_M said...

Having served in the Army of that renegade colonial offshoot it is my unscientific observation is the pendulum swings between the personnel types who want any formal punishment to become a matter of permanent record to make personnel decisions easier, and line persons who want to have a formal punishment that does not become a matter of permanent record so that action can be taken when good soldier does something stupid without wrecking his career.

When any formal action becomes a matter of permanent record there rapidly develops a system of informal sub rosa punishments (often PT related) to handle situations that do not need to be a permanent record. Which, sooner or later, someone will abuse. And the pendulum swings the other direction.

This is very different than dropping new recruits for ten pushups for minor infractions.

And I would recommend the Cletus’s more detailed post above.

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