When I first heard of this, I thought, "Oh, no. Another one of those 'basic training rumors' that keep going around. Remember the one about "stress cards" that recruits in (pick your service) basic training were given, so that they could call a "time out" from basic training if they felt too stressed?
Turns out the "cell phone" rumor is true. Recruits in many (not all) Army Basic Training platoons are now allowed to use personal cell phones to call friends and families, send text messages, and to update their Facebook and Myspace status.
Not all the time, of course. Prior to the new "cell phone program," well-performing platoons were often rewarded with a phone call home on Sundays. To take advantage of this, recruits would have to stand in line at pay phones and call using a calling card, or call collect. Phone calls were generally limited to just a few minutes to make sure everyone in the platoon had a chance to call.
Under the new policy, cell phones are kept by the Drill Sergeant, and returned to recruits for a period time each Sunday, if the DS feels the platoon "earned" the privilege. Of course, recruits who don't have a cell phone are still allowed to use the old pay phones.
In a way, this kind of makes sense. One of the reasons the US Military is so successful is that they are willing to take full advantage of new technology. Most adult members of our society carry a cell phone these days. New military recruits generally have a cell phone with them all the time, following basic training. Some military members even use cell phones to call home from overseas assignments. There have even been cases of military members in Iraq and Afghanistan using personal cell phones to pass on vital military information to their commands, when military communication means failed.
What do you think? Is this a good idea? Should the other services consider allowing limited cell phone use in their basic training programs?
As for me, I don't think I'll worry until I begin seeing troops texting while in formation.