Piney Point is just a place. A whole bunch of buildings carefully designed to be neither attractive nor ugly in which no one (or no one in the UA program) is allowed to form any connection with or personal affinity over. Even after all this time I have no sense of place in this utterly sterile facility. Most of the people are anonymous strangers cycling rapidly and irregularly through to keep any of the background faces from becoming anything more than background. I can only say that I know the ten people in my class, maybe a third of the class immediately behind mine, and a handful of "important" people, mostly administrators and instructors.
It is in this environment that we are given a whole lot of instructions and restrictions, but very little guidance. Trainees get the core function of Piney Point accomplished quite well as a general rule, we make it to class, study, and become certified in an assortment of things. But for everything else, from the institution of a boot camp lifestyle to the various work details around the base, we are expected first to simply know what is wanted of us, then to know how it should be accomplished, then to juggle it with all the competing expectations. Oversight is minimal, so if we do the wrong thing we are often completely unaware of it, causing problems both when the mistake is caught and in the interim when the mistaken solution crowds out other possible solutions and unrelated priorities. Rules are changed weekly, nothing is announced earlier than the day before it happens, there are no communication channels between us and the hands that move us from place to place, and the entire program reeks of patchwork upon patchwork with the original purposes and motivations for each patch obscuring the others and completely covering up what was once a well designed regimen.
What is worse is that the administrators, the people who have absolute power over my career, only intermittently care, and then only about the things directly visible to them in their administrative capacities. It is said that years and years ago when the program first began in the 1950's, it was run by a former Navy Marine drill instructor who firmly believed in a program that broke men down and then built them back up better than before. This fabled drill instructor was universally hailed as one of the best men that those who met him ever met, tough, fair, and competent. Those who replaced him are salarymen who may have once been fine seamen but are now out for nothing more than a steady income. The trainees are no one's priority, so the easy part of the boot camp program, the breaking down, remains in place while the much harder building back up has fallen by the wayside. And with a recent spate of lawsuit threats (or perhaps actual lawsuits-- we don't get much information down here in the trenches), even that breaking down section has started to be stripped away starting with class 789, though I am not qualified to say what Piney Point is left with in the absence of even that.
It is from this combination of distracted administrators desiring a micro level of control without the micro level of oversight necessary to understand what controls are necessary that makes this place a seething swamp of bullshit. It is a purposelessly unpleasant dystopia endured for vague promises of future riches delivered by distant others.
But none of that really matters. "Hell is other people", but those other people can't do anything to hurt you if you don't let them. Nothing they have made me do put me at any risk of losing a limb, and most of the tasks I have been asked to do were tasks that needed to be done in some form or fashion at some point. The notion of something being a waste of time exists only in my head, as does the concept of unfairness. None of the bullshit matters because none of it lasts. I have just traded three months of my life for the beginning of a career, and I think I am right to be offended by some of the crap they have used those three months for, but it doesn't actually matter if I am right or not, if I am offended or not, because they are going to uphold their end of the bargain and this phase of life will just end without consequence or lingering effects.
If you are looking at going to the UA program at Piney Point, the only thing you need to know is the thing they tell you over and over again in the first week; keep your head down, your nose clean, and your mouth shut. If you walk out of here and the administrators don't know your name, you win a fantastic new life. It isn't free because nothing is free, but the price is one that I have been able to afford, and maybe you can, too.