Can a Solider decline to do push-ups for Corrective Training? | AskTOP.net - Leader Development for Army Professionals

Can a Solider decline to do push-ups for Corrective Training?

I was told this is in Army regulation: When you ask a Soldier to perform push-ups as corrective training, he has the right to ask you to perform it with them. If you decline, they do not have to perform the order... Is this correct?

No, the Soldier cannot decline and the leader is under no obligation to do the corrective training with the Soldier.  Frequently leaders will do the corrective training with their Soldiers to motivate and inspire them. Army Regulation AR 600-20 and FM 7-22 provide specific guidance on the use of physical training as corrective training.

AR 600-20 paragraph 4-6:

Corrective training must be related to the offense, oriented to improve the substandard performance, Can be after hours, can only be implemented until the deficiency is corrected.

AR 600-20 paragraph 4-20:

When authorized by the chain of command and when not unnecessarily cruel, abusive, oppressive or harmful, the following do not constitute hazing:  administrative corrective measures including a reasonable number of repetitions of authorized physical exercises.

FM 7-22:

Corrective training is often used incorrectly resulting in over training or overuse injuries.  These sessions are not smoke sessions.  Authorized exercises include:  Rower, Squat Bender, Windmill, Prone Row, Push up, V-up, Leg Tuck and Twist, Supine Bike, Swimmer, 8 Count Push up.  Only these exercises may be selected. The number of repetitions should not exceed 5.

Word of advice

It may be easier to knock out a few push-ups rather than give an NCO a lecture about appropriate corrective training and then get corrective training that takes a few hours from your day. Be careful what you wish for.

posted on 10/21/2011 under Q&A
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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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    Comments

  • sgt leddick

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    TOP ? where can I find something on giving soldiers inappropriate nicknames or calling them names ? Is this hazing and can a soldiers reaction be held against him if he replies in a non tactful manner

  • John

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    Like all of my Marine friends and family say
    A.R.M.Y
    Ain’t Ready to be a Marine Yet.
    now I believe it. I cant believe that it would come to “hazing” this isn’t high school where were trying to cut down bullying this is a CONTINGECY Force! we KILL PEOPLE! we are NOT a Fortune 500 corporation! if you are too weak minded to handle physical activity reprimand then I don’t want to be near when the bullets are flying!
    like my NCO would me over 8 years ago! “Pain or Paper” and I would always pick pain!
    Im saying this TOP with all due respect and I do understand where you and these regulations are coming from I am just disappointed in the way this great Army has changed! but its just a reflection of the nation we live in! we are weakening by the second.

    • Mark Gerecht

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      John,
      When I respond to questions I try to stick to the facts and not become entangled with the emotions of an issue. I do appreciate your feedback and see where you are coming from but I believe you may have missed the point of the discussion. When we speak of hazing or smoke sessions these are clear violations of authority, the UCMJ, and clear violations of abusing subordinates. As a leader you have a duty, responsibility, and obligation to protect the health and welfare of your subordinates. That does not give a leader the ability to physical abuse an individual.

      Think of it this way. No leader or Soldier typically has a problem with using physical fitness as a corrective training tool to get a Soldier’s attention. That is not the issue in this discussion. The issue is the clear abuse of authority and the leader’s subordinates.

      Good Corrective Training breeds discipline. Bad corrective training breeds resentment

      The bottom line in all of this is treat people the way you want to be treated. The regulation was put in place because a clear pattern was established between abuse of physical training in conjunction with corrective training resulting in the injury of numerous Soldiers. As a Leader you have the ability to administer corrective within the realm of your authority. If you choose to implement training outside of your realm then you must by extension: 1. accept responsibility for your actions 2. be held accountable for any injury to your subordinates. With that understood lets look at it this way.

      Let’s put ourselves in the role of leader and subordinate. I am the leader and you are the subordinate. The leader implements physical corrective training that is clearly outside the realm of corrective training. It results in the serious injury or death of the subordinate. Should I be held accountable for my subordinates’ injury or death? How would your family feel about the abuse and disregard for your personal safety/well being? I know if my child was abused in that manner I would want the leader held accountable to the fullest extent possible.

      When we speak of corrective training typically most of us see it as something being used within reason. Apply the “Reasonable Person Rule”. Would a reasonable person find my actions, decision, corrective training, etc. acceptable and appropriate. If you even hesitate to response with a “YES”, than you need to reevaluate your actions because more than likely the actions are either: unethical, immoral, illegal, or unsafe. What this post addresses are actions outside of the reasonable world and actions outside of those established by the regulation.

      I am positive your comments were not in support of abusing subordinates or believing that leaders should be allowed to impose physical torture or injury upon their subordinates. I believe you see or saw the post as a way of letting Soldiers get over. That is not the case. The goal of the post is educate so that leaders/Soldiers clearly understand their authority and responsibilities. The key of corrective training is to correct and educate not punish and abuse.

      The problem we typically have in military service is that young Soldiers see Senior Leaders implementing abuses of authority and see that as a correct way to do business. By extension it breeds a group of future leaders that believe those practices are acceptable. As I look back over my 26 years of service I can clearly see some of my actions were wrong. I learned some of these actions by watching my senior leaders. Later in my career I realized through experience and education these techniques were wrong. If something had gone wrong I could have gotten into serious trouble with legal consequences.

      Again my goal in these post is to share experience and educate. By no means do I want a Soldier to get over. If a leader has to result to physical abuse as a means to correct performance that leader needs to be removed from leadership and if they cannot be rehabilitated they need to be removed from military service.

      Warstory: I once observed a Leader abusing his subordinates with physical training that was basically physical torture. He was also taunting the Soldiers and could have seriously injured them with the physical requirements he placed upon them. When I approached the Leader, I asked what was going on. He stated he was going old school on these pieces of shit as they had no discipline and he was going to show them who was in charge. I then instructed the Leader to have his men recover. Then the leader was given legal physical corrective training., one exercise following the correct amount of repetitions. Nothing else, the point was to correct and educate and get his attention. The leader became furious. Making him do physical exercise was demeaning, inappropriate, disrespectful and it was belittling to him (imagine how he would have felt if I would have given him his own corrective training). Then the following statement was made: Pointing to his subordinates I asked so how do you think they feel? The leader was then directed to see me for a formal counseling session. Long story short: The Leader was given a formal counseling statement. A bullet was placed on the working copy of the leader’s evaluation report and if he did not correct his actions it would be placed on the final version of the evaluation report. The leader had to apologize to the Soldiers. The Leader was required to read all regulations regarding corrective training and physical exercise. Then the Leader had to write a 1,000 word essay on the consequences of implementing illegal and abusive corrective training. Finally he had to give classes to the unit on how to properly execute corrective training. I ran into the Leader years later and he told me he appreciated the correction and told me I taught him a valuable lesson. You see he realized I could have easily recommended an Article 15 and had the young inexperienced Leader separated from the service. Instead I chose to correct and educate with the hope that he would then educate others as he matured in his military career and his level of leadership influence grew. Now to my point: The reason he thought his actions were acceptable was because his Sergeant did it to him.

      Being a good leader does not mean you need to be an ABUSIVE LEADER! Being a good Leader means treating people with respect and dignity, implementing proper discipline, and ensuring your team is tactically and technically proficient. Abuse breeds hate, discontent, and resentment. It does not breed loyalty, obedience, and Soldiers willing to go the extra mile.

      Now to your comments regarding the Army: A.R.M.Y Ain’t Ready to be a Marine Yet. I have always enjoyed healthy competition between the services. My brother in law was a Marine and when we would get together I would pick up a handful of sand and throw it against a wall and say Hit the Beach Marine! In all seriousness I had the honor to serve with the Marines twice during my career. Each time they were a great bunch of military professionals.

      Take Care
      TOP

      • Jay

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        I can relate to this matter, when I first arrived to my duty station all the new privates were subjected to an extra PT session to ensure they were fit and able to pass the test. This was fine with me until they started smoking soldier for no apparant reason my favorite, 40 push up for every NCO and Officer that walks by, on average the soldiers would attempt to knock out over a hundred push up and then go to PT. Then the mass punishment came into play, for basic it was a couple quick front, back, and goes but not for my unit. My day consisted of an average of 5-6 half hour sessions of what ever came to mind while the NCO’s jeered at us and on multiple occasions our CO walked by and watched and then moved on. This continued non stop for about two months until I was order to run while fireman carrying a soldier who weighed twenty pounds more than me. About a quarter mile into the run my knee gave out, I was told I was the week link and the soldier with me was then told carry me. Within two days my knee had swollen to the size of a foot ball. A couple PFC’s noticed and requested that I’d be sent to the hospital. This was denied three times until they could no longer hide my limp. This would begin a long year of medication and therapy to come back to my unit and continue to be smoked with upper body exercises my platoon sgt denied two MRI’s and had me reschedule my surgery once because they conflicted with training events that I could not partake in because of my injury. My military service ended after surgery when they had to remove a large portion on my meniscus because it had been torn and peaces were deteriorating. This is an example for the regulations on hazing and corrective training. These rules were in place while this was happening only problem was no one wanted to enforce them and the soldiers didn’t know any better we all thought we were weak, pathetic, waste of life and were reminded of this daily. During my two years I talked several soldiers out of suicide and into seeing the chaplain, I talked a few out of fraging their NCO’s, and I even battle with depression and developed anxiety along with panic attacks.
        During my time I had brought my case to my chain of command who did nothing. I brought it to IG who contacted my CO and then dropped the case, and as a last result wrote a letter to my congressman who sent a reply along with my letter to my CO, who handed it over to my platoon sgt, who was listed in my complaint. You can imagine what that lead to.

  • Tyler

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    So according to fm 7-22 it SHOULD not exceed 5. Does that mean it is not allowed to exceed 5?

    • Mark Gerecht

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      Tyler,
      Welcome to the world of discretion. There is no black and white answer. “Should” being the operative word in this sentence. This does provide the leader latitude. I believe the intent is to stop abuse and prevent physical fitness from being used as punishment. So in my opinion this does not limit them to 5 but it puts them on notice that anything above could be construed as something other than corrective in nature and possibly hazing. AR 600-20 also provides insight into physical exercise as hazing. Specifically, para 4-20 2b states …a reasonable number of repetitions of authorized physical exercises… Now we have the “SHOULD” and “REASONABLE” discussion.

      While FM 7-22 states they should not exceed 5, I believe the statement in AR 600-20 could support 5 as a reasonable amount. It is open to interruption and ultimately a commander would have to determine what he/she deems appropriate.
      Odds are if the incident was abusive in nature I believe it will be obvious to the individuals that observe it. In fairness, I usually saw repetitions of 10 conducted.

      The bottom line is if a leader is being called out on how they execute corrective training they may want to rethink how they execute their corrective training.

      From a Soldier’s perspective you can usually quickly determine if you are being mistreated or simply corrected. If it is a correction knock it out and move on. If it is abuse odds are you will have no problem finding people to say it was abusive in nature.

      Typically when corrective training is abusive in nature it is conducted by an inexperienced leader that needs to be corrected. Bringing the information to the leaders attention that is contained in FM 7-22 and AR 600-20 in a professional manner usually solves the issue.
      EXTRACT AR 600-20 para 4-20
      4–20. Hazing
      The Army has been and continues to be a values-based organization where everyone is encouraged to do what is right by treating others as they should be treated—with dignity and respect. Hazing is fundamentally in opposition to our values and is prohibited.
      a. Definition.
      Hazing is defined as any conduct whereby one military member or employee, regardless of Service or rank, unnecessarily causes another military member or employee, regardless of Service or rank, to suffer or be exposed to an activity that is cruel, abusive, oppressive, or harmful.
      (1) Hazing includes, but is not limited, to any form of initiation “rite of passage” or congratulatory act that involves: physically striking another in order to inflict pain; piercing another’s skin in any manner; forcing or requiring the consumption of excessive amounts of food, alcohol, drugs, or other substances; or encouraging another to engage in illegal, harmful, demeaning or dangerous acts. Soliciting or coercing another to participate in any such activity is also considered hazing. Hazing need not involve physical contact among or between military members or employees; it can be verbal or psychological in nature.
      (2) When authorized by the chain of command and not unnecessarily cruel, abusive, oppressive, or harmful, the following activities do not constitute hazing:
      (a) The physical and mental hardships associated with operations or operational training.
      (b) Administrative corrective measures, including verbal reprimands and a reasonable number of repetitions of authorized physical exercises.
      (c) Extra military instruction or training.
      (d) Physical training (PT) or remedial PT.
      (e) Other similar activities.
      (3) Whether or not such actions constitute hazing, they may be inappropriate or violate relevant civilian personnel guidance, depending on the type of activities and the assigned duties of the employee involved.

      HOPE THIS HELPS
      TOP

      • SGT NICK

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        I brought this up again at work today since we have been talking about it and the consensus is that smoking a soldier teaches discipline. Same with extreme conditioning programs for pt. I guess if your in a high optempo unit they still cling to this mentality. I’m with you top.

      • Mark Gerecht

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        SGT Nick,
        They can cling to it all they want. The first time one of them gets hung out to dry for abuse or hazing and ends up on the cover of the ARMY TIMES it will all STOP, at least in that unit! Keep this in mind, the environment of the Army is changing. We have General Officers being relieved for Toxic Leadership and discipline of senior officers is at an all time high. Do you really think they will overlook an NCO who knowingly violated the regulation? Think of it this way do you really think a Commander will stand up and say “I absolutely support my NCOs smoking Soldiers…It’s good discipline. It is a shame when abuse of authority/position equals discipline. The Army teaches us to do what is right when no one is looking. It does not teach us to abuse our Soldiers. Here is a quote I believe hits the nail on the head:
        You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.- General Eisenhower!
        TOP

  • Carlos

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    Can my NCO smoke me while being on civilian clothe? or make me stand in parade rest?

    • Mark Gerecht

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      Carlos, smoke sessions are not authorized. They are usually conducted by leaders that do not understand this conduct violates regulation. Smoke sessions can be considered abuse and/or hazing. I conducted a keyword search of AR 600-20 and FM 7-22 here are the results from FM 7-22:

      Causes Of Overtraining Syndrome And Overuse Injuries

      5-12.
      Safe progression for performance improvement is complex, involving many variables that impact success (entry fitness level, ramp of progression, total volume of activity, rest/recovery, and nutrient intake). Many of
      these variables can be controlled following the principles of precision, progression, and integration, as well as,monitoring Soldiers in training and making training adjustments as required. Common mistakes to compensate
      for low performance and rate of improvement are the conduct of multiple training sessions, high intensity“smoke sessions,” and/or excessive corrective action using
      exercise. All of these aredetrimental to performanceimprovement and lead to overuse injury

      High Intensity/Volume Training Sessions

      5-14.
      Soldiers commonly refer to these training sessions as “smoke sessions.” Many times in these types of sessions, the difficulty, intensity, and volume of exercise is too high and the purpose may be to punish Soldiers
      by bringing them to the point of exhaustion. This type of training is a dangerous practice that inhibits building resiliency because performance is degraded, motivation is
      lowered, and risk of inju ry is high. Thus, training sessions for the sole purpose of “smoking” Soldiers have no place in the PRT system. Many times, these
      sessions produce life-threatening conditions for Soldiers, such as, heat fatalities, debilitating overuse injuries, and rhabdomyolysis and may lead to permanent disability or death


      Corrective Action

      5-15.
      When exercise is used for corrective action, it is often performed incorrectly, promoting overtraining syndrome, and overuse injuries. Often corrective action mimics “smoke sessions,” punishing Soldiers with little
      or no corrective value. Consideration must be given to the number of times per day exercises are used for corrective action for individualSoldiers and groups of Soldiers to avoid the cumulative effect and limit the
      potential for overtraining syndrome. The following guidelines should be followed when employing exercise as corrective action

      With regard to parade rest- Once you are clear on who this individual is, meaning you know him and have identified him as a leader you know or he identifies himself to you then yes going to parade rest in civilian clothes would be appropriate given the context of the situation you described.

      Bottom line leaders that conduct smoke sessions are placing their Soldiers at risk and their career. In fairness new leaders tend to mimic corrective measures used to educate them when they were coming up. Usually when you approach a leader in a professional manner and show them the consequences of smoke sessions they change their behavior. It also lets them know that you are a Soldier that will go look things up and it tends to make the leader think before taking action like this in the future. If the leader is open to this approach it usually solves the problem at the lowest possible level. If the leader is not approachable or resist a professional discussion taking the matter to the chain of command is appropriate.
      When taking the matter to the chain of command you must make sure your information is factual and that you present your case in a professional, unemotional, calm manner.

      Hope this helps

      TOP

      • SGT NICK

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        That’s really not going to work top, if their is one manual being completely ignored by many units in the army today its FM 7-22. Units are doing crossfit programs everywhere and I have seen policy letters from commanders directing their leaders to only perform the warm up and cool down drills from the manual that’s all. I guess people wanted the manual to be really hard on pt and discipline and it came across as the opposite, idk but I do know leaders ignore it as high general level.

      • Mark Gerecht

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        SGT Nick,
        A leader who freely ignores Army policy/regulation and decides they will conduct smoke sessions does so at their own peril. There is no excuse for “Smoking” Soldiers. Just because a leader chooses to ignore policy does not grant the leader immunity. Think about it this way. If the Army is hammering officers at an unprecedented rate for unprofessional conduct what is the most likely outcome for an NCO that is physically abusive to their subordinates? These sessions are not discipline they are abuse/hazing.
        Now to your overall comment about FM 7=22 being ignored. FM 7=22 with regard to a physical training program outlines that publication is a guide. Specifically it states in the introduction: “Allows leaders to adapt physical readiness training to unit missions and individual capabilities.” Which means that Commanders can use the information in FM 7-22 to develop their own unit specific physical fitness program based on the specifics of the unit mission and personnel. Therefore there is nothing wrong with “cross fit” programs.

        So in summary we are discussing two separate issues: The commanders has the ability to decide how the unit physical fitness program is set up and therefore may deviate from FM 7-22. The commander is not authorized to deviate from AR 600-20 and FM 7-22 when it comes to using physical fitness as corrective training. Doing so endangers Soldiers. I am not naive, I understand it happens. However the consequences for doing so are severe. This is where leaders need to educate subordinate leaders.
        TOP

  • ralph

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    Can a soldier that is being chaptered out the army be given corrective training for turning in their ERB/LES a few hours later then when they were told to do so?

    • Mark Gerecht

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      Yes, corrective training is designed to correct and educate a Soldier and could be used in this situation.

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