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US military's guide to banter

James Mattis, the defence secretary and former four-star Marine Corps general with a reputation for using colourful language, said: “You have to adapt to your times. There’s a rough good humour among soldiers, we all know that.”

An edict to eliminate harassment and bullying has now been made available for use in the American armed forces.  Jokes in bad taste or with offensive overtones will no longer be tolerated.

A 23-page manual published by the Pentagon draws the attention of military personnel to the difference between banter and intimidation.  Mockery, insults, put-downs, epithets and ridicule appear on the “watch-your-language” list.

From now on, drill sergeants will have to be on their best behaviour or face disciplinary action, and words intended to ridicule or mock women will be prohibited.

In many fairly recent cases, senior and non-commissioned officers have been fired or disciplined for behaviour unbecoming in dealing with junior ranks.  A scandal in the Marine Corps was exposed last year when nude photographs of female personnel were posted on a military Facebook page.

The defence secretary James Mattis was known as Mad Dog during his Marine Corps days

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US military's guide to banter


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