There is a tradition that has endured for a long time at Basic Training. It come sin many different forms, but the one I endured (and I have heard the most consistent versions of) is the sort of “shock and awe” that greets you when you come off the truck at your Basic Training location. You are immediately surrounded by shouting Drill Sergeants who yell at you, inches from your face, sometimes two or more at once, each shouting contradictory orders. You are all made to line up and hold your heavily-laden dufflebags straight out at arms length, and if your arms begin to droop (and they will) then you get accosted by Drill Sergeants who scream at you and have you “drop” and do push-ups.
Even strong guys who work out will eventually sag their arms, although it may take a bit longer, and they get push-ups like anyone else. Your arms are tired and sore and then to add insult to injury they have you dump out the contents of your bags onto the ground and arrange it neatly and/or re-pack it– again while shouting contradictory orders.
A lot of Basic Training is purposefully designed to be stressful and insane. Contradiction and nonsense are part of the game. You can say “oh, this is just the Army/government being dumb” or not making any sense, but the real object is to see who will crack under pressure and freak out, and who will hold it together. “Holding it together” does NOT mean that you are Joe Cool and sail through it all without breaking stride– people will smoulder with anger, cry with fear, blubber in confusion, or just go into a sort of zombie state and follow whatever the last order was… but as long as you bounce back and get back on track and drive on, then you’ve won the moment. If you’re going to snap under pressure, best do it now– in Basic Training, where it is a controlled environment and they can hustle you offstage.
Of course, that’s the way it is supposed to happen, but humans being humans (trainees and Drill Sergeants both) there are some that go overboard. Will Donner be one of them? How about a guest star, Drill Sergeant Low? Stay tuned and we’ll see.