A former US Army linguist who attended Basic Training with Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning is speaking out against his former comrade, painting a disturbing portrait that runs counter to the common narrative of Manning as a tragic hero.
Intelligence analyst and former Army linguist Jay B Huwieler has gone on record to speak out against Manning in the aftermath of her sentence commutation by former US President Barack Obama, producing accounts from his time in basic training with the future leaker of classified US military information that suggest Manning should never have been allowed into the military in the first place.
In a blog post made on the 18th of this month, Huwieler noted that Manning lacked both the intestinal fortitude and will to function as a soldier from day one of her time in Basic Combat Training (BCT) starting with her refusal to hold her duffel bag at eye level- a ritual practiced during the “shark attack,” when one is first introduced to their Drill Sergeants, allowing the cadre to identify the weak links in their recruit platoons.
“Every recruit had the same packing list with the same items in that green duffel bag,” Huwieler wrote. “They all weighed the same amount. Whether you were 6’4” or 5’4”, male or female, all recruits had to carry their own weight. Understand, that no one breezes through this exercise- everybody hurts, everyone drops their bag at least once, and everyone pays the price for it, including myself.”
However, the former soldier said that Manning’s failure to comply with the simple order wasn’t a matter of strength, but more a matter of heart- or lack thereof.
“During this exercise, Manning’s problem wasn’t that she was too small or not strong enough,” he added. “The problem was, she quit. As the rest of the platoon faced one way, gritting their teeth and [sic] baring it, whispering words of encouragement to each other, she stood at an about-face the opposite direction, and said she simply could not pick up her own bag.”
Huwieler then went on to describe several incidents where Manning would make life miserable for the rest of his platoon, including failing to communicate the uniform of the day to her teammates, outright refusing to perform tasks, purchasing contraband items and even feigning choking (and putting hands on a Drill Sergeant) in order to continue eating when time had run out.
Manning reportedly did not get to graduate with the rest of his class, but Huwieler would meet several other Chinese linguists and intelligence analysts who would remember running into Manning, dating from 2008 to 2013.
“I don’t know what it means that you can trace half of Manning’s career in the Army based on which Chinese Linguist was closest to her at the time, but I do know that she’s in the background of nearly every career of every U.S. Army intelligence analyst active in the last decade,” Huwieler noted. “Her actions changed fundamental practices in the DoD. Manning altered not only the way we think about information security, authentication and confidentiality, but also about the grave damage posed by the insider threat.”
In the end, Huwieler said that the commonly-accepted portrayal of Manning as some tortured victim of hazing due to gender identity and runt-like mannerisms is anything but the truth.
“Chelsea Manning wasn’t being picked on at the Shark Attack when the Drill Sergeants said she had to lift her own bag like everyone else, and she said she couldn’t,” he noted. “She wasn’t being picked on when those Soldiers tried to help motivate her to lift the Jerry Can over her head and even picked up their own and did the exercise again, with her, out of solidarity. And when she faked a choking fit in the middle of the Dining Facility, it wasn’t because someone else was tormenting her – she was tormenting herself.”
To Huwieler (and presumably, his BCT comrades), Manning was merely a selfish, narcissistic human being who was incapable of working in a team and should never have been allowed to enter the ranks of the United States Army.
“Chelsea Manning was not picked on or harassed because of her gender or identity; she was not bullied because she was small or appeared easily overpowered or dominated,” he concluded. “No, Chelsea Manning was ostracized. Because some unknown in her character prevented her from ever truly entering into that covenant of self-sacrifice upon which collective group defense depends, she could not ever satisfactorily contribute to the welfare of the group. In a social schema where the defense of the group becomes the perpetual rationale for why the group should even continue existing, Chelsea Manning either could not or would not sacrifice enough of herself to inspire loyalty among comrades. “
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