Why the Army canceled the unofficial 'Shark Attack' tradition at boot camp
- The United States Army Infantry School announced it would no longer conduct the unofficial ritual known as the "
shark attack" during basic training.
- The event created an environment of chaos and confusion wherein drill sergeants yelled at the new recruits for nearly an hour, ordering them to raise and lower their heavy duffel bags over their heads.
- The Shark Attack will officially be replaced by an organized event called "The First 100 Yards," which will incorporate team-building exercises and physical challenges.
Following is a transcript of the
Drill sergeant: Why are you switching bags?Recruit: I thought we were --
Recruit: Yes, drill sergeant!Narrator: This...
Drill sergeant: This way, let's go!Narrator: Is the shark attack. Drill sergeant: Get up there! Get up there!
Narrator: A mandatory rite of passage for every future US
Drill sergeant: Run, run, run! Hurry up! Hurry up!Narrator: At least, it used to be.
Drill sergeant: You're a tough guy, aren't you?
Drill sergeant: Don't move!Drill sergeant: Do something. Do something. That's what I thought!
Robert Fortenberry: This year, we developed a new training event for our initial entry soldiers.Drill sergeant: Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle! Let's go!
Narrator: Instead, the shark attack has been replaced by what you see here.Recruit: Bro! Hey! Narrator: An event called The First 100 Yards.
Fortenberry: I think there was a time and a place for the shark attack. We already know it's a cultural thing, but I think we can make this better.
Drill sergeant: Right there! Right there is the line, right there!Narrator: Business Insider recorded this footage of a shark attack inside
Christopher Ricci: You know, we're breaking a lot of habits from the civilian world, and nothing better than a little shock to the system to let us start our training.
Drill sergeant: You decided to join the Army, and you can't pick that bag up.Narrator: With the Army's announced change, this may be some of the last footage of a shark attack to ever be recorded.
Narrator: And according to the Army, when this footage was recorded in February, the plan to transition away from the shark attack was already in motion. [drill sergeants yelling] Fortenberry said he began to reevaluate the shark attack at the request of his superior officer.Fortenberry: He said, "Rob, what do you think about the shark attack?" And I'm like, "Sir, I've struggled with that thing my whole career, because it doesn't speak to an all-volunteer force."
Drill sergeants: Shut the hell up! Shut your mouth! Shut your mouth! Shut your mouth! Shut your mouth!Fortenberry: Loyalty, duty, honor, selfless service. And the shark attack was completely counterintuitive to that. Drill sergeant: You were told to pick up the left bag! Why do you have the right bag?
Narrator: So, how did this...
Drill sergeant: Aah! Get out of my way!Narrator: Become a regular part of Army training?
Fortenberry: In the early '60s, we were not a volunteer army. We were a draft army. So you had people that had no desire to ever be a part of the service that were drafted into the
Narrator: The draft era ended in 1973, and the Army returned to being an all-volunteer force. But the shark attack remained an undocumented part of basic training.Drill sergeant: Why are you moving? Why are you moving?
Drill sergeant: Roll your eyes again, I dare you! I dare you! [whistle blowing]Fortenberry: What was it designed to do? What were the outcomes of the shark attack? And it's almost a trick question, because I did my homework, and it's not codified anywhere. There are no outcomes for a shark attack.
Drill sergeant: Pick it up! Pick up your bag and hold it! Pick up your bag and hold it!Narrator: Aside from the yelling, one of the basic components of a shark attack is trainees being ordered to lift and hold their duffel bags above their heads. Fortenberry: It was mass punishment. So there was nothing to achieve; there was nothing to gain. It was, quite honestly, it was survive it. Just survive whatever was getting thrown at you, but it didn't result in any success or failure. It was just survive an hour of just getting screamed at, yelled at, holding a duffel bag in the air.
Drill sergeant: Talk to me! Talk!
Fortenberry: It's almost like the shark attack allowed you, for that moment in time, to not treat somebody with dignity and respect.Drill sergeant: How are you still not understanding?! He just said it!
Fortenberry: That's a great example of how it betrays the trust. I'm gonna humiliate you as a man, as an individual, or as a woman. And then literally once this event is done, I'm gonna tell you how you need to believe in me.
Drill sergeant: Let's go! [whistle blowing]Fortenberry: As a drill sergeant, my job is to build trust with you so that when I say something or when I ask you to do something, you believe in me because you know I have your best interest at heart. It's leadership 101, right?
Narrator: This is what's replacing the shark attack. The First 100 Yards.Drill sergeant: Keep moving!
Narrator: Or, as it's known in the Armor School, Thunder Run. [all yelling] Fort Benning provided this footage of the event in action. And while the tone is different, it's clear the drill sergeants aren't taking it easy on the trainees.Drill sergeant: Stop f---ing walking! Drill sergeant: You better sound the f--- off! Yes?
Recruits: Yes drill sergeant!
Fortenberry: We still scream. We still yell. We still drive intensity and momentum, because we want to have that shock. We want to have that confusion.Drill sergeant: Stop f---ing wandering with your eyes!
Fortenberry: The difference is that there's an outcome to be achieved. Versus during the shark attack, it's just yelling and screaming to determine who the less desirables are.
Drill sergeant: All right, you have one minute to memorize this pallet setup.Narrator: The event takes place over two and a half hours. It includes a mock battlefield resupply mission.
Fortenberry: Their first thing when they get that resupply mission is the drill sergeant leads the men, leads the platoon, with a simple, "Follow me, let's go."Drill sergeant: First, communication is key to succeed as a team. Let's go!
Fortenberry: He's driving it. He's leading it. He's leading by example.Narrator: The event also includes competitive fitness tests featuring exercises from the Army's combat fitness test, like leg tucks, push-ups, and the standing power throw. Fortenberry: It's two and a half hours of straight physical exertion. So, you know, as you go through these events, if you lose, you get smoked or you do corrective training. There are consequences to failure. There are consequences to loss. [gun firing]
Narrator: One of the last phases of The First 100 Yards features a demonstration of an infantry squad in action.
Fortenberry: We show them what a real infantry squad looks like. And this could be you in 22 weeks, through your determination and your desire to succeed. This could be you. So let's start the journey. I'm gonna put them through a challenging test where winning does matter. I want them to taste success if they've applied to the best of their ability what they've been able to achieve through physical hardship. And the result of that is they've tested themselves. They've tested themselves the first time.Recruits: Yes, drill sergeant!
Narrator: Hi, I'm Graham Flanagan, producer of Business Insider's "Boot Camp" series. Current and former members of the Army, what do you think about the decision to end the shark attack? And to all military members and veterans, how has training changed in other branches? And what do you think about those changes? Let us know in the comments and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don't miss the next episode of "
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