9 Reasons the New Guy Always Gets Caught When He Screws Up




Screwing up in the military is a given. Sometimes a person is just trying to sham, sometimes they get drunk at the wrong time, and occasionally they even make an honest mistake. Service members who have been in a while know how to avoid getting caught. New guys are making these nine mistakes.

1. Bad risk management

Leaders do composite risk management for missions. Smart shammers do CRM for everything else. Every entry on this list can be chalked up to a failure of composite risk management. Shamming during work? Plan on how to avoid snitchs’ eyes. Headed off base to get plastered? Plan for how to get to a recall formation.

2. New guys are too stupid to play dumb


Privates like to seem like they have it all together. This is huge mistake. Sergeants love taking a soldier under their wing and “teaching” them things. When they play dumb, their mistake will become a “teachable moment” instead of a counseling statement.

“Private! Why weren’t you at PT formation?”

“Sergeant, I got lost and couldn’t use my cell phone to call you because I was in uniform.”

“Couldn’t use your cell –? Oh. No. You can use it. You just can’t walk and talk, private. Here, I’ll explain …”

3. They don’t think of good cover stories

Most of the time, new guys will get through shenanigans without seeing a single senior noncommissioned officer, but too many new guys fail to prepare a cover story to throw leaders off the scent, just in case. The cover story should match the environment. For instance, smart soldiers bring plastic bags when shamming in the motor pool. If caught , they just say: “Well, my sergeant sent me to get an exhaust sample in this bag from truck ID-10-T, but I can’t find that bumper number anywhere.” Again, new guys get to play dumb.

4. They don’t get organized


The reason old hands in the barracks are more organized than new guys has nothing to do with inspections. It’s because they need their stuff handy when they screw up. If they’re getting drunk while there’s a chance first sergeant will call everyone in, they’re prepared to rapidly brush their teeth, put on a uniform, get to formation, and be dress-right-dress by the time the squad leader starts taking accountability. Less organized troops would still be hazily looking for their uniform top and boots.

5. New guys don’t work as a team

New guys try to get away with stuff by hiding all the evidence from everyone, rather than selecting members of their squad and platoon they can trust to help them in a crisis. Instead of shamming alone, smart troops designate roles to each other. For smoking in the woods while assigned to a cleanup detail, two people should be in charge of collecting cigarettes and dropping them in an energy drink can, two people should be in charge of immediately looking at the ground like they’re hunting for trash, and someone should be standing lookout.

6. Failure to stage supplies


Photo: US Army

That can in number 5 and the trash bag in number 2 don’t magically happen. They’re staged supplies. Electric razors can be placed in cars for use while driving to a recall formation, military publications can be opened to make it look like someone is studying doctrine rather than sleeping, and cans of dip are handy for bribing squad leaders.

7. They need better escape routes


Photo by: US Army

Never slack off in an area with only one exit. Always be prepared to make a quick exit on an unexpected route.

8. They don’t get representation in the Terminal Lance Underground/E-4 Mafia


Different services have different versions of the junior enlisted league, but everyone should join theirs. The sergeants and petty officers of the world are working together to catch the junior enlisted, the junior enlisted must band together in defense. New guys don’t always have an advocate in one of these fine organizations to help them distract NCOs, lose files, or text them ahead of a crisis. They should get one.

9. They forget to stand at parade rest

Seriously, do it every time. Parade rest is like stealth camouflage for privates. Troops should stand at parade rest every chance they get. It makes NCOs think they’re too afraid to break the rules.

classedit2 David Nye – Staff Writer at We Are The Mighty

David is a former Fort Bragg paratrooper who deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team.


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  • Leon Suchorski

    LOL. # 4 just cracks me up with memories. We were having a pre I.G. inspection, and my bunckie was a two year draftie in to the Marines, and an admin man. Lt. Swidonovitch was doing the inspection, and after seeing my bunk with all of the proper tricks laid out, he looked at my bunkies, and started tearing him a new one. “Can’t you spend a little time on your gear? Can’t you just take care of your gear a little? Etc.” And then I pretended that I didn’t hear what my Bunkie said. “Heck, I’m so broke that I can’t pay attention.” I was waiting for our LT. to tear him up for saying that, but he just kept tearing him a new one, and asked me to help him with his gear. To my dieing day, I will always remember that one from back in 1967, that he would interject that remark when he was getting chewed out.

  • Robert Danley

    So…from this article I gather that Drill Sergeants are sending an inferior product out into the field?

    • Leon Suchorski

      No, just that some guys get lazy once they get away from boot camp, and think that they do not have to be as sharp as they were then. Or they get over confident in their abilities. I have seen the boots try to run us third year in guys into the ground. But when the run was over us “old timers”, were the first ones in line to get our liberty cards, as they sat there huffing and puffing. And THEY WERE JUST OUT OF BOOT CAMP.

  • FASnipeHT2

    I was very lucky to have Nam vets train me. As a new HTFA stationed in San Diego, 1979. I learned to skate with the best. How to drink or smoke without getting caught. Where best to hide your stuff from friends and foes. lol

    • Leon Suchorski

      LOL. In my outfit, I was referred to as a super skate, not a skate. Once we were having an IG inspection, and my section had junk on the bunk, Uniform inspection, and then to be followed by the Marine PRT. The guys kept asking me why I hadn’t checked out my rifle to clean it, and I told them that I was working on it. Just before inspection, I checked it out, and rammed the bore to clean it. I had already passed the junk on the bunk, because I had that little piece of paper there to show what I had not been issued. When we fell out in our greens that morning, the guys kept bugging me as to how I was going to get out of the PRT. I kept telling them that I was working on it. After the inspection, they kept at me because they thought that I was done for, and was going to have to run. Then they announced that due to inclement weather, the run was postponed until the next day. That afternoon, I went to sickbay, and complained about my breathing problems. The doctor asked me what I had been doing, and I told him practicing for the IG. He told me that we will have no more of that, and gave me a chit that exempted me from physical training as long as I was in the outfit. When I left Sickbay, I detoured through the barracks to show the guys my chit. One of them commented that he knew that I would never go back to sickbay as long as I was in the outfit. When I showed up at training and gave my chit to the staff, He asked me if I was trying to get out of the run, and I showed him that I did not get the chit until that afternoon, when we would have been running. The gunny asked if I was another sickbay commando, and the staff asurred him that I had just gotten the chit. The gunny looked at me and said, “Good Marine. We need more men like you around here.”

  • Shawn McFadden

    In regards to Number 5. There was one time during AIT at Fort Lee, VA that one of the guys in the platoon I was in, had snuck into the female soldiers bay. We all covered for him, didn’t mention anything to anyone. The Drill Sergeant was going to give us some time off, and we were ratted out by a Specalist who then walked out the bay as the Drill Sergeant went off on all of us. Since then I hated Specalist’s (E-4’s) until I became one.

  • wtpworrier

    New guys always get caught because they are FNG’s….that’s all.