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VOLUME 34, NUMBER 1, 1978

Military Socialization and Masculinity

William Arkin
San Jose State University

Lynne R. Dobrofsky
Mills College

An analysis of military indoctrination as a powerful adult socialization

process is crucial to an understanding of adult male role definitions
since a significant proportion of the male population has undergone
the basic training experience. How the values and norms of masculinity
are structured by and for the military and the ways in which they
act as socializing agents are explored in a model of militaryy socialization
^^vlv^^^Tl '' ^f'^
^f'^ ' '^^ '^''^'
'^'^' ' '^^ all-volunteer armed force
(AVA1-) and the military as an occupation. The article demonstrates
the type of socialization common to adult males vis-a-vis the opera-
tionalization of the prototype of masculinity.

The relationship between the military and the "masculine

mystique (Komisar, 1976) is apparent in the process of adult
or secondary socialization. As a monolithic organization experi-
enced by a substantial part of American society23.7 million
veterans and almost half of the employed male population having
served an average of 27 months of active duty (Young, Note
1; President's Commission, 1970)-the military occupies a unique
position in the spectrum of adult socialization. Although the
average age of entry into the military varies with the degree
of mobilization for war, when we consider that entry comes between
the ages of 17 and 20, a transition period between adolescence
and adulthood, we can understand the impact of secondary
socialization on the recruit's vaguely defined and minimally expe-
rienced role of adult. Recognizing not only the individual's position
in the life cycle but that entry into the military is entry into

Denfr?mrf1f'V^^%'''"^T '^'' ^"'''^ "^^y ^^ addressed to W. Arkin,

Department of Sociology, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA 95100.

a relatively closed and monolithic social system where the individual

experiences a coordinated and controlled range of work, living,
and emotional experiences, we can begin to understand the
dimensions and the potential impact of the secondary socialization
processes that operate in and through the military.
The military provides a social environment which is a hybrid
of family and social groups as well as work and reference groups
that become interwoven through a network of primary and
secondary interactions. Analogous to the life cycle, the sequence
and pattern of socialization unfolds in the militaryfrom entry
as a skinned-head recruit through the warrior's initiation rites
and finally, for some, badged and rewarded retirement. Potential
for resistance to military socialization only comes from values,
attitudes, and definitions of early primary socialization or from
pre- or non-military relationships and group identities; these
civilian influences and bonds reduce with time, mobility, and
distance of the recruit from his civilian counterpart. The significant
impact of military socialization on civilian society is only minimized
by the fact that the majority of those who have served to date
tend to return to civilian society after two years of active duty,
yet even this population carries with it elements of military
The potential of the impact of military socialization was
recognized in the 1970 report of the President's Commission on
an All Volunteer Armed Force (AVAF): "Military life is thought
to have a discernible and beneficial impact on an individual's
capabilities, attitudes, and behavior patterns as they are carried
over into the veteran's civilian life." Alleged differences between
veterans and nonveterans centered around patriotism, concern
with foreign and domestic affairs, as well as self-discipline,
neatness, and hygiene, and greater participation in community
social and political activities. No firm conclusions were made
regarding all veterans because intervening variables of race,
education, age, and ability interacted with the military experience
and clouded the issue. The primary concern of this article, the
secondary socialization processes that influence and shape mascu-
line role definitions and attitudes that are implicit in the military
experience, was not examined in the commission's report. Rather
than explicit goals, objectives, and examples put forth by the
military, we are here concerned with patterns of implicit definitions
and attitudes existing in a social environment that is mutually
reinforcing to them since it is the implicit rather than the explicit
that is often the basic force of socialization and social control.

It is our purpose to analyse the major dimensions of a

secondary socialization process that influences a large number
of men as young adults, with an eye towards a deeper, more
complete understanding of adult male roles. This analysis is largely
based on that process which underlies the traditional male role,
where major forms of achievement which validate masculinity
are physical (Pleck, 1976). Important changes evidenced in the
"modern" or "emerging" male role are now beginning to appear
in society at large, but not within the military system's rules of
conduct. "The interpersonal skills which promote collaboration
with others towards achievement, as in management," (Pleck, 1976)
are definitely part of the new image which the AVAF wishes
to establish. Yet the traditional male role is still dominant and
even a contemporary analysis of the military must focus on the
traditional processes and images of masculinity upon which the
system is based. Whether the military is reflecting civilian move-
ments regarding male role changes or whether the changes are
demanded by the AVAF in peace time, with an emphasis on
jobs and occupations that must mimic civilian changes in order
to succeed, remains an empirical question ripe for research.
The question of military socialization in general and the impact
on civilian institutions in the specific was considered a moot point
with the shift to the AVAF in 1973. The assumption that with
the AVAF, significantly fewer people would experience the mili-
tary and recycle into civilian life is currently not valid. While
the active strength of the military has decreased from 2.7 million
in 1964 (pre-Vietnam) to 2.1 in 1977 (Goldich, Note 2), the military
still must currently recruit one out of every 5.6 18-year-old males
and a projected one out of every 4.6 by the end of the 1980s.
The increasing percentage of 18-year-old males who will serve
in the military is the result of the declining birth rate that began
in the 1960s (Coldich, Note 2).
When we consider that, based on current standards, 32.6%
of the 18-year-old population are physically, mentally, or morally
unqualified for the AVAF and 16% are college students and
will probably not volunteer, we can understand why the military
is currently developing policy for standby selective service or
national conscription. Although the AVAF has not been in
existence for a sufficient period to totally evaluate its impact on
civilian society, it is clear that the military experience will, in
the absence of war, minimally socialize 20% of our annual
18-year-old male population, who will be cycled back into civilian
society on a regular basis.

It is impossible to determine total military influence and

socialization on the civilian sector when we consider those who
leave or are forced out early as well as those who retire and
enter private and government employment as second careers.
But it is.estimated that retired military personnel constitute 5%
of civilian federal employees alone.

Prior to the initial training, recruitment reveals the military's
definition of who is to carry out its objectives or mission. Although
definitions change with the extent of crises, war mobilization,
and budgets (variables which define for the military those popula-
tions to be recruited), certain patterns do emerge.
In addition to entry requirements, we have seen a major
shift in recruitment policies, reflected in providing an option of
occupations to potential recruits. This change has been experi-
mented with in the past when the military was encouraging
primarily re-enlistment or attempting to bolster lagging enlistment.
The current policy, along with increased wages, is the result of
the AVAF and the military's desire to assure a sufficient population
of recruits. Additionally, technological trends in war-making result
in modifications towards "civilianization," a trend which modifies
but doesn't eliminate civil-military differences. The trend towards
civilianization is applicable to occupations within the military,
however, and not to the military as an occupation; the military
is attempting to professionalize the military image but not neces-
sarily socialization therein.
Until recently, young males have either been lured or drafted
into the military with the promise of becoming a man: "Join
the army. Be a man"; "The army will make a man out of you";
or, from the marines: "We only take a few good men." In general,
the military has been defined as an opportunity to grow up,
a belief that youth leaving home will return as men. Because
there has been evidence enough in the form of medals, honors,
recognition, jobs, education, and success for those who have served,
popular expectations have reinforced the military's role as patri-
arch under those influence and discipline a doubtless man emerges.
As a result of the AVAF, today we find becoming a man
being defined in terms of learning an occupation or a skill, but
basically the recruitment message of turning a boy into a man
has only added the traditional work ethic dimension of masculinity,
which equates masculinity with productivity, occupation, and

breadwinning. This shift does not change one of the primary

objectives of the military, that of turning boys into (fighting)
men, but rather it attempts to widen the military appeal. As the
result of the negative publicity that was spotlighted by Vietnam,
this new appeal further represents a typical peacetime pattern
where the masculine warrior appears superfluous to the popula-
Overall, socially and personally joining the military is viewed
as not only an opportunity for boys to become men but the
opportune time for the military to make men out of boys. The
secondary socialization and indoctrination processes occur at a
time in one's life when our society both expects and requires
formalization of an adult sex-role identity. Hauser (1973) suggests
that because the military may easily be characterized as an
organization "where they holler at you," some men probably join
to find discipline in the not uncommon belief that they must
undergo some kind of hardship ritual in search of maturity.
Independent of obligatory or voluntary recruitment, however,
the military is committed to fulfill one of the promises that young
boys will develop into mature men. The military pperationalizes
the equation of masculinity-warrior, not through the process of
anticipating maturity but with a more efficient aggressive condi-
tioning model of creating the masculine male. Recruits end up
internalizing much of the ethos of masculinity and then begin
to place value on their training experience:
I can see how subtle and how insidious . . . the changes are. Because
as determined as we were not to change, we certainly were changed
. . . Unless you had this pressure on you . . . somebody beating you
. . . well, it was good in a way [in that] you found you were capable
of doing much more than you've even anticipated you could do . . .
So you know, this was a valuable thing. (Lifton, 1973)
The acceptance of a recruit depends upon a classification
system which includes measurements of physical, moral, and
mental standards as well as number of dependents, age, and
other criteria. The Armed Forces Qualification Test rejects the
lower 10% as part of the mental criteria; criminal records as
well as sexual preference serve as major moral variables for
rejection. However, by far, emphasis is still on physical criteria
and a series of classifications identify the individuals who are
physically lA overall but still have physical defects which would
preclude certain types of assignments. The pre-entrance physical,
where there is only minimal and symbolic emotional testing,
represents a milestone in the progression into masculinity. The

physical classification represents the prerequisite for masculinity

and emphasis on high physical standards contrasted with minimal
emotional and attitudinal standards implicitly carries with it the
military's belief that masculinity is determined primarily by a
healthy body not a healthy mind.
The initial physical status of the recruit sets the pattern of
stratification within the military structure, as the prime "A" profiles
have been traditionally designated for combat careers and training
while the lower status physical profiles are tagged for support
or administrative functions. The importance of the physical
classification can be seen throughout the military structure; those
belonging to or assigned combat occupational categories are
deferred to pr given more privileges than those of equal and
higher formal rank who have support occupational roles. The
emphasis on physical fitness and combat roles can further be
seen in the current dispute on women and combat, as well as
the undue emphasis on the absence of upper-body strength in
women without ever establishing the relation of upper-body
strength to combat. Promotion is difficult without having served
in a combat or line unit; officers are periodically rotated into
line units to assure probability of retention and promotion. Having
experienced combat obviously increases the individual's status;
special combat marks on the uniform sleeve, organization patches,
service ribbons, and badges are authorized to identify the status
of the individual.
Even though the emphasis on "be a man" is drawn largely
from civilian culture, it is given special interpretation in the combat
situation, for it is in combat that the core of masculinity is
Courage, endurance and toughness, lack of squeamishness when
confronted with shocking or distasteful stimuli, avoidance of display
of weakness in general, reticence about emotional or idealistic matters,
sexual competency . . . . (Stouffer et al., 1949)
Status is derived from the role of combat soldier (proof of
manhood) in the extreme case of war (test of manhood). Even
when we look at those of equal rank who have not experienced
combat, we still find the drill sergeant receiving more informal
status deference than the equally ranked support personnel.
Implicit in this structure is not the test of manliness in battle,
since combat conditions or war are not constant, but the physical
prerequisite of manliness and the supremacy of physical attributes
over either intellectual or emotional ones. It should be noted
that the pre-acceptance physical is the primary determinant of
military acceptance, with the majority of the in-depth intelligence
and skill tests not being administered until after the recruit has
been sworn in.

All recruits are subjected to varying degrees of basic training
depending upon the branch of service and the individual's pro-
jected occupational assignment. Currently, there are an estimated
2 million persons in the armed forces777 thousand army, 581
thousand air force, 526 thousand navy, and 188 thousand marines
(Goldich, Note 2). Basic training represents a one time experience,
occuring immediately after recruitment, for the purpose of being
indoctrinated into military life and of learning the rudimentary
combat skills. Its success is difficult to measure since the turnover
rate at the end of the first enlistment or conscription period
varies with peace and war, economic crises, and relative composi-
tion of volunteers and draftees. However, in projecting the AVAF,
the military estimates a 20% turnover rate, indicating that the
majority of 17- to 20-year-old volunteers find the initial period
satisfactory. It also implies that basic training, where initial defini-
tions are learned, is highly successful in developing secondary
or institutional socialization where the individual's values, behavior,
and definitions are the objective roles and status defined by the
institution. In effect, the military's definition and expectations
become the individual's definitions and expectations. Masculinity,
particularly as defined by prescribed rules of conduct, is and/or
becomes the major emphasis of basic training (see also Eisenhart,
Form and content of basic training varies little from service
to service; however, intensity of the experience and weapon's
skill does vary with the service. Those services whose primary
mission is direct confrontation of the enemy in combat (the marines
and army) receive a more intense basic training experience than
the navy and the air force, who are perceived of as combat units
engaged in support missions. Intensity of the training common
to all services does have an effect on socialization, since intensity
and frequency of interaction produces stronger socialization pat-
terns as well as increasing the probability of socialization. The
difference between the esprit de corps of the marines with its
tough, macho image and the relaxed easy-going sailor in the
navy reflects a difference in intensity and not in the form or
content of the basic training experience.

By definition, basic training is combat training. The justifica-

tion for basic "combat" military training for alleven though
a large percentage of recruits will subsequently be shuffled off
to noncombative specialization trainingis that the primary mis-
sion of the military is combat, and all members must be prepared
to fight in the event an emergency war situation requires it. The
expressed military purpose, however, does not reflect the degree
of manliness training that each recruit must receive before qualify-
ing for "manhood."
Basic training is a rite of passage for a young American
"boy"with the key phrase (goal) being "a civilian into a soldier,
and a boy into a man" (Yarmolinsky, 1971). Basic training is
thus a carefully executed process which supports "the intentional
disruption of civilian patterns of adjustment, replacement of
individual gratifications with group goals, inculcation of unques-
tioning acceptance of authority and development of conformity
to official attitudes and conduct" (Yarmolinsky, 1971).
Military discipline is of central importance to basic training
and is often conceptually interchangeable with processes of social-
ization. While it might be difficult to isolate what is meant by
military discipline, the demands center on appearance, cleanliness,
exactitude of detail, respect for tradition and rank. Military
discipline refers to and thus encompasses the total individual's
conformity to a prescribed role, including one's behavior, attitudes,
beliefs, values, and definitions. Conformity to the prescribed rules
of conduct is the focal point for change within the military processes
of indoctrination.
The objective of basic training is to shape the total person
into being a disciplined cog within the military machine. Ultimately,
basic training is where the most profound changes must be made;
it functions as the military's agency for primary socialization. As
the primary force of socialization, the military operationalizes
an ideal of masculinity in basic training through instrumental
archetypes: the male, the female, the team archetype, and the
family archetype. Basic training, as a sharp contrast with civilian
life, places the emphasis upon establishing a high degree of social
solidarity and it is clear that basic training will often have a
traumatic impact on the recruit (Yarmolinsky, 1971). In this
context, it also becomes obvious why a heretofore closed male
social system has been necessary to insure a controlled environment
in which to reinforce and reward the fundamental archetypes
to be acquired in the weeks of basic training.

The Male Archetype

The end product of basic trainingbecoming a strong, silent,
self-reliant man who functions as a loyal member of a teamis
primarily created through the indoctrination of values and a
mentality which have nothing to do with the military mission
(Eisenhart, 1975). All of the exercises and assignments of basic
training are designed .to build the man whose sex-role identity
is molded under conditions similar to the controlled environment
of a laboratory:
These "leaders" are the men; that pretty much makes you the
"pussies"at the very most "boys." You have to conform to a hard
core, tough image or you're a punk. And I began to believe it because
of my insecure state of mind, which was so encouraged in training.
I was real insecure . . . The pressures of assuming manhood are
very heavy. (Anonymous, 1974)
Thus the training program for the masculine sex role is opera-
tionalized via skills and techniques deemed necessary for a man's
survival in combat; combat training and masculine sex-role social-
ization are never separated from one another. Today's emphasis
on occupational opportunities only extends the domains in which
a certain set of skills and techniques are necessary for the male
The values vk'hich underlie the basic training techniques are
"tradition, esprit de corps, unity and community" (Goertzel &
Hengst, 1971). Combined, these values, techniques, and pressures
for manhood define the formal image of military discipline
"duty, honor, country" (Spencer, 1973). The mind and image
of the military are sustained through discipline, the heart of the
military social system (Hauser, 1973); and basic training is v^here
and when they are collectively operationalized. For example, the
regulation of shaving heads or shortening hair which tbe recruit
immediately experiences serves the dual purpose of exposing him
to discipline while simultaneously removing the extra frills of
longer hair often associated with individual vanity (vanity being
believed to be tbe prerogative of women). As a preparation for
resocialization, tbe military used bair-sbaving long before move-
ments sucb as Synanon and Hare Krisbnas devised it as a symbol
of resocialization and tbe new individual.
Along witb disciplinary measures are psychological controls
used to shape masculine bebaviors. Levy (1971) points out tbat
even tbough "tbe marines beard lectures about Vietnamese men
expressing friendship among themselves and witb otber men

through physical contact," once in Vietnam their need to relate

these gestures to their own culture manifested itself in defining
such behavior as homosexuality.
In the case of the American marines . . . homosexuality appeared
in two contradictory themes of basic training. . . . On the one hand,
homosexuals were the enemy. . . . On the other hand, marine recruits
were called "faggots" hy their drill instructors during hoot camp. (Levy,
The long grueling marches are particularly suited to building
a man under high stress conditions, where marching is the means
not the end of this objective. A variety of verbal practices are
also used by drill instructors to train recruits to withstand stress
while relinquishing personal controls:
By compelling these men to accept [derogatory] labels, the drill
instructors achieved on a psychological level the same control that
they had on a physical level when, for example, the men were not
permitted a bowel movement for the first week of boot camp. (Levy,
The emphasis on inspections and drills fosters conformity to
discipline and to authority. Discipline and authority are also
reinforced by uniformity in dress and activities, yet clearly dif-
ferentiated by rank. Many boot camp rituals are coupled with
The violence towards trainees was merged with the learning how to
do violence, so that "We used to be disgusted with the other services
hecause we considered them unaggressive." Aggression meant learning
how to protect not only their lives, but also their masculinity. Accord-
ingly, after boot camp they referred to the Marine Corps as "the
crotch," while the other military branches were called "the sister
services." (Levy, 1971)
Inspections and drills form the strong, silent, obedient man. It
is deeply rooted belief that obedience in training is the prerequisite
to discipline under fire on the battlefield (Hauser, 1973).
Disciplinary methods used in training are not confined to
the physically strenuous exercises of marches and obstacle courses.
Psychologically, as punitive measures for various policy infractions
or violations of ground rules, military discipline simultaneously
embarrasses and reminds the recruit of his penis-as-pov^^er link
by requiring him to hold his rifle in one hand while his other
hand grasps his crotch and to shout:
Sir: This is my rifle
This is my gun
This is for pleasure
This is for fun!

(For violent disciplinary measures linking sexuality and military

mission, see also Eisenhart, 1975):
"In the purely masculine surroundings of the Army, the values
associated with the ideal of virility play a determining role in
molding the soldiers image of himself and in creating his inner
tensions and the channels for their release" (Elkin, 1946). Thus,
mechanisms of social control are constantly operating to reinforce
the appropriate masculine self-image hy negating menaces (like
showing emotions) or threats (like homosexuality) to that image.
Official reasons given hy the army and the navy for fearing
homosexuals, for example, are stated thus:
The Army considers homosexuals to be unfit for military service because
their presence impairs the morale and discipline of the Army, and
that homosexuality is a manifestation of a severe personality defect
which appreciably limits the ability of such individuals to function
effectively in society. . . .
Homosexuals and other sexual deviates are military liabilities who can
not be tolerated in a military organization. (Williams & Weinberg,

The Female Archetype

While some disciplinary themes explicitly refer to the male
image, other themes found in sex-oriented rhymes which function
for cadence counts, are reserved for the female image:
I don't know but I've been told
Eskimo pussy is mighty cold
I got a gal in Kansas City
She's got gumdrops on her titties
When I get back to Kansas City
Gonna suck those gumdrops off her titties
Momma's on the bottom. Poppa on the top
Baby in the middle yelling give it to her pop!
The relationships of masculinity and violence and masculinity
and sex dominate formal as well as informal military socialization
patterns. Even the chaplain's speeches stress masculinity in terms
of male sexuality and dominance hy warning men to leave "good"
women alone, in the recognition that masculinity and sexual
conquests go hand in hand. The underlying assumption in
pre-leave "chaplain's orientations" is that men must and will seek
out women for sexual conquest after long periods of ahstention.
The primary theme of these orientations is that all men have
strong sex drives and when denied access to women, their desire
for immediate gratification may interfere with good judgement
"So watch out for the good women who may not understand

and watch out for the bad women who may roll you or give
you VD."
In basic training, recruits are shown sex-education films which
reinforce themes and images of women as objects for men's sexual
exploitations and which "educate" men in the evils and dangers
of VD, fostering a distrust in those who communicate sexual
diseases, women. Additionally, many weapons training films
impose or use women to sustain interest and attention in the
instructive content. Naming equipment by women's names further
reveals the function that objectifying women has for confirming
male's values of dominance and power. Land mines named
Bouncing Betty which are designed to explode at groin height
smack of the female castration theme; ships, planes, and tanks
as war equipment are named after females who do not represent
wives at home but symbolize sex objects or goddesses. Instruments
of war, like bombs and guns, are commonly referred to as "her"
and "she," telling of man's habit of using women as a means
to accomplishing his ends. The joystick (slang for penis) as the
control lever for female-named combat aircraft such as "Betty
Boob" further exemplifies this. The sanctioned use and abuse
of women (and the ability to impress others with one's sexual
exploits) is a common means of confirming one's manliness, power,
strength, and dominance by removing any doubt as to one's own
virility in heterosexual encounters.
In basic training . . . people talked about fucking sheep and cows
and women with about the same respect for them all. (Anonymous,
A consequence of using the imagery of females in basic training
to strengthen the intended masculine imagery is sexual and often
violent use and abuse.
The military's image of the role women should play in the
life of the military man is that of receptacle for his sex drives
too long held in check and as an object of distrust that the chaplain
warns may be the source of venereal disease and a conspiracy
to entrap one into marriage and a monthly allotment check. As
a result, discussions of intimate relationships between men and
women, of marriage and the family are conspicuously absent.
But the emphasis on heterosexual exploitation and women as
sex objects derives from another need to dismiss any possible
doubts about the gender identity of the male. As Stouffer (1949)
wrote of being a soldier in World War II: if one were not socially
defined as a man there was a strong likelihood of being branded
a woman.

The Team Archetype

A major aim of basic training is to foster maximum individual
identity with the group, in the form of loyalty, esprit de corps,
and a team work orientation, while minimizing the fostered
anxiety, paranoia, and fear of expressions of homosexuality. The
"buddy system" designed for keeping track of one another and
for companionship is not to be confused with sanctioning intimacy.
In fact.
When a recruit mentioned that he and a friend had been separated
in violation of the "buddy system" under which they joined, the drill
instructor is reported to have asked, "Do you like Private R?" The
next question was, "Do you want to fuck him?" (Levy, 1971)
The emphasis on team work enables a viable balance of group
identity and loyalty, dependence on the group and on the military,
while preserving values of competition and aggression necessary
to one's definition as a self-reliant male. While training is often
a traumatic experience, one gains a sense of morale. There is
fellowship; knowing there are others in the same situation makes
for easier adjustment (Wagner, 1975). Identity with the group
is not an accident; loyalty to the group is planned for as an
objective of basic socialization. Promoting a team-work image does
not conflict with masculine values of competition, aggression, and
fighting to win, nor does such an orientation in any way imply
relations more intimate than masculine camaraderie or compan-
ionship, survival relations considered integral to the buddy system.
Keeping in mind that basic training is primarily training for
combat, the military effectively structures both formal and infor-
mal factors to promote the dependence of the individual on the
During training situations, the military promotes the team
concept through a division of labor where the combined weapons
or skills of the team represent the highest probability of survival.
Constant badgering, company punishment, and peer pressure
are utilized when drill instructors loudly identify individual errors
as costing the life of a team member, or the lives of a squad,
platoon, company, or regiment. Guilt and survival are the bases
of the team concept, but individual competition is promoted
through rank, medals, assorted rewards and assignments. In order
to foster both team cooperation and individual competition, the
military uses a mixed bag of reinforcers. In one situation an
individual will be punished for improper behavior or attitude;
in another situation the whole squad, barracks, platoon, or
company can be punished for one individual's error. The unde-

fined rewards and punishmentsfirst individual, next group

quickly get translated into a belief that one can only compete
within the conformity of the team concept. Conformity, competi-
tion, and aggression are the keys, not creativity, innovation, or
spontaneity. The military man is, in effect, a corporate man where
the greater the sacrifices for the good of the corps, the greater
the likelihood for status, promotion, reward, and recognition.
It is within this cooperative-competitive model of team work
that the military is able successfully to prevent intimate relation-
ships between males. One's buddy is one who may get a coveted
assignment, promotion, or leave; he may also cause you to lose
similar rewards. Since a buddy is one's competitor as well as
a necessary resource for survival during combat, all signs of
weakness must be concealed, including personal problems, doubts,
fears, or concerns. As a result, intimacy even with constant physical
proximity and shared experiences rarely emerges.
The Family Archetype
Basic training is also designed to condition the man for a
particular relationship with his family. This socialization begins
with total separation from family except for emergency leaves,
defined by the birth of a child or a death in the immediate
family. Men go through training independent of family ties or
even military family recognition except for minimal dependency
allotments. The near denial of familial relations is in the form
of insulating the recruit from his family, coupled with a noticeable
absence of films or other recognition of the stress families go
through during the recruits' absence. During basic, families of
members in training are consequently also being prepared for
the military as a support system for the man and, ultimately,
for the military (Dobrofsky, Note 3; Dobrofsky &Batterson, 1977).
Starting with basic training, the only communication patterns
that exist with one's family or future wife are reliance on mail
or an occasional phone call, where the latter is controlled by access
and availability of a phone. In severing this intimate interaction,
the military believes that the recruit's self-reliance is increased.
Seeking advice from parents or spouses is considered characteristic
of a sissy or cry baby, one who is tied to his mother's or wife's
apron string. Women in the family are perceived as potential
threats until they themselves have been absorbed into the military
community. Out of sight, out of mind is the military model.
However, when this backfires and a soldier receives a "Dear John"
letter, it becomes evidence of either the woman's insincerity or

selfishness. The ideal woman remains at home; her support is

demonstrated by sending letters and gift packages in tribute to
the deprivation the recruit is undergoing for her own well-being
and that of the nation's. The interpersonal relationship between
recruit and family is defined in terms of symbolic martyrdom.
The separation is difficult but justified because he is forsaking
all for the good of the nation, which translates into the good
of the family or the woman. The initial separation is never defined
as his socialization and her or family preindoctrination, but always
in terms of sacrifice for a higher good and those who do not
endure experience the pangs of guilt.
The discouragement and/or denial of privileges to families
or recruits in training are attempts to keep social distance between
the man and his family, ultimately to minimize their influence.
This practice also serves as a training period for the family in
learning to handle family routines as well as crises independent
of the male. Married women must become sacrificing heads of
households and learn to assume the males' responsibility. (It should
be noted that the chaplain is the appropriate advice and counseling
source regarding personal and, in particular, family problems;
the equation of religious and family difficulties stems from a
belief that the feminine domain includes religious and domestic
The weeks of basic training, then, are also used to socialize
the man as not being integral to his family life and the family
into being an understanding support system for the military. Not
only is contact with family severed during basic, but any interest
in integrating one's family during the first tour of enlistment
is seriously discouragedby not making on-base housing available,
in contrast to accommodations designed especially for military
families after one's first tour. The interruption of intimate family
relations which basic training accomplishes, the separation from
family which basic training enforces, and the distance from one's
family which the first enlistment tour encourages are all processes
intended to insure that the man is fully socialized (disciplined)
by the military before re-introducing civilian and intimate influ-
ences of family. The preferred practice of not welcoming families
into the military community until one has re-enlisted allows the
man to prove his military commitment in the form of re-enlistment
and thus demonstrate that he is a self-affirmed instrument now
capable of folding his family into the military for their socialization.
With the shift away from the imagery of a "single man's
military," the military had to socialize families into their society

as effectively as it accomplished this with individual recruits. By

creating an elaborate network of social, psychological, recreational,
religious, economic, and educational services and facilities marked
by convenience and reduced prices, the military has managed
to isolate wives and children from civilian influences while using
them to free the man to maintain a relatively uninterrupted
relationship with his work and with the military.

In the ways discussed here, the military represents not only
the primary traditional sex-role identity for American men, but
it has been the instrumental force of socialization for this identity.
Through relative physical isolation, community insulation, and
behavior modification, the traditional prototype of masculinity
is molded by the military in the belief that war and military
are masculine domains and, as inherently masculine domains,
success is dependent upon the degree to which the military person
conforms to the defined archetypes. The purpose of basic training
is to militarize, which means to give a military character or to
adapt for military use. This represents the primary purpose of
basic training, not training in occupational or combat skills. The
individual's proficiency at using sophisticated equipment and
weapons comes after he has been militarized. The combat equip-
ment and techniques of basic training are notoriously obsolete
and inadequate for the military's primary mission. In effect,
militarization translates into socialization into a masculine domain,
which requires a definition of what a male should be. Masculinity
supported by various archetypes represents the military definition
of who is qualified to occupy the masculine domain.
Because of reliance on the techniques and processes used
to create the masculine archetype of behavior and the rejection
of intimacy and warmth, neither basic training nor the military
community can ever provide for primary group relations which
are mutually personal, intimate, supportive, and interactive. The
relations and feelings characterized by the military are conditioned
as a team where emotions and character are controlled and/or
positioned by rank, authority, cooperation and competition, ag-
gressiveness, and self-reliance. As a result, it is difficult to gauge
the effects of military socialization on any one individual although
the dynamics are readily apparent in the total society.
The military has socialized millions of men according to the

same traditional masculine blueprint. As such, the dominant adult

male-role model could largely be the product of the military,
particularly in as much as those who are thus socialized have
returned to society. Formal and informal social relations in society
at large replicate the archetypes of male, female, team, and family
that are used by the military to socialize the recruit. Even the
universality of this traditional male-gender role is telling as
exhibited in visual, dramatic, and novel representations of war,
depictions which are accepted as reality. The various media
presentations stress disciplinary efforts to fit the character into
the model soldier, rather than developing the individual character
of the soldier. Thus, to date, we witness the formal and informal
impact of a dominant militarization process.
All indications are that the military blueprint of masculinity
has not changed with the AVAF, and the military can point with
pride to increasing ROTC programs as well as increasing enlist-
ments. The military has not become a haven for the undereducat-
ed, poor, and minorities, though unemployment trends do cause
surges in enlistments.
What we are seeing is not a dramatic change in the military
as many expected, but a series of fissures which could threaten
the military infrastructure. The navy (Navy Desertions, 1977)
reported that more than 1100 sailors per month are jumping
ship, the highest desertion rate in navy history including Vietnam.
In addition, the navy estimates 17,000 single parents, with 75%
being male, while the army and air force have yet to recognize
this growing population. The influx of women in all traditional
male occupations, with the exception of combat, can only serve
to challenge the military socialization in masculinity since the
military has yet to develop a female warrior model. Military women
tend to represent a neutered or "little brother" role model. But
whether a feminine or little brother model of socialization is used
for women, it is questionable if the military model of masculinity
can be preserved when shared.
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