This scene is a good example of the way the Americans approached and still approach recruits. The supposed individualism of the American citizen means that basic training is mainly aimed at erasing the personality of the recruit, then rebuilding it as part of the unit: in other words, a forced policy, not one built on socialization as in the German Army

This approach produced the image we are all familiar with from movies: the drill sergeant who breaks his recruits by showing them who is in charge and humiliating them if necessary – this despite the fact that as early as 1906 Ludendorff - Chief of the German General Stab - had correctly observed that such drill deprived young men of their personality and failed to produce the desired Innere Führung. It would not take long, once they entered the war, for the Americans to discover the downside of their methods.


'Training then was to be the process in which the soldier would learn, through forced subordination, that the individual was unimportant relative to the organization and would be persuaded, through daily chastening, that indiscipline would bring down on him penalties that ranged from annoying to life-altering . . . It took no more than a day of basic training to comprehend that military life accorded no premium to intelligence. [As one commentator noted] ‘The first the Army teaches you is if you got any brains it’s best to keep them to yourselves.’