Fort Ord's Merit-Reward System: A Contingency Management Program in Basic Combat Training,
WALTER REED ARMY INST OF RESEARCH WASHINGTON DC
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Eleven years ago, Fort Ord tested, developed, and implemented a program of contingency management in Army basic combat training BCT. The program was called the Merit-Reward System MRS. In 1971 the United States Continental Army Command CONARC directed that the MRS be tested at several of the other U.S. Army Training Centers. The United States Naval Training Base at Orlando, Florida, adapted the MRS for testing with naval recruits in early 1971. At the same time, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut, designed a program of contingency management along the lines of the MRS for training its entrants. Now, a decade later, none of the armed services uses a system of contingency management to indoctrinate and train its members. Yet, recent observations at a large Army Training Center reveal problems similar to those present a decade ago Use of a prison psychology i.e., one invoking fear and punishment to shape, control, and discipline new recruits a training environment which frequently fails to challenge and motivate faulty management of time and other resources insufficient coordination of schedules and agendas a disenchanted cadre who complain of excessive time demands, meddling officers, a sharp loss in status and autonomy, and a lack of available tools to train, correct, and discipline their charges and the ever-present spectre of trainee abuse.
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