I remember being a young Marine recruit at Parris Island, August of 1966, running, running, boots thumping on the grinder, exulting in the sense of power and communion that comes of men acting in unison, shouting, "Luke the Gook comes marching by, stick your bayonet in his eye, lef rye lef rye lef...." Only an idiot goes to PI - Third Batallion, Disneyland, in my case - in August. I was one. It goes with being nineteen.
Under a leaden sun that beat down like a soft rubber truncheon, we unlearned civilization. How to clap a hand over a sentry's mouth while inserting your Kbar in his kidney; agony, shock and instant blood loss prevent a struggle. We ran in formation shouting Kill! Kill! Kill! We learned that it is better to shoot an enemy in the bowels than the head because trying to keep him alive would strain the enemy's medical resources, and the man would probalby die anyway. Peritonitis is your friend, we learned. The other guy's peritonitis.
Months later at Lejeune we slogged day after day, on three and a half hours sleep, through the greasy clay mud of a North Carolina autumn, from range to range. We learned flame throwers, which if you haven't you don't know what hell is, and how to burn the enemy alive. Again, that sense of power. We learned to use white phosphorus, WP, Willy Peter or other names less printable, to cover enemies in burning goop that you can't put out. We learned to be what human beings shouldn't be. We felt an exhilarating freedom, of not being subject to moral constraints. We learned to suppress conscience, morality, and empathy. This, more than the use of weapons, is the goal of military training.