In the Navy, “skating” refers to getting out of an unpleasant task or duty assignment in some creative way. There are lots of unpleasant things that have to be done in the course of any normal day in the Navy and guys (and I suppose girls now as well) will employ various means of avoiding certain tasks. Skating is not to be confused with being lazy or “malingering,” which is feigning illness to avoid doing your job. Neither of those things is well tolerated by your shipmates. It will get you a reputation as a “turd.”

Last night I had a conversation with a Marine who managed to pull off a couple of pretty impressive “skates” while he was in Iraq, and all he had to do was keep his mouth shut.

An Inauspicious Start

This particular Marine was a young PFC Combat Engineer. About one week before his unit was supposed to deploy to Iraq, he managed to down most of a bottle of Jack Daniels, and trying to find his way back to the barracks, he ended up entering the unlocked front door of a young LT living on base with his wife. As you might expect, this intrusion was not welcomed by the officer who got very much in the face of this very drunk PFC a week away from a combat deployment. The base police were called and when they arrived the LT was still haranguing this young Marine about what he was going to do to him (which was worse than going to Iraq?). Anyway, as he was being cuffed by the base police to be taken away, he lost his temper and headbutted the LT, and began to fight the base police with DMS or Drunk Marine Strength. The LT ended up with a broken and bloody nose and the base police guys ended up with some bruises and abrasions themselves before they were able to bundle him off to the brig to sleep it off and face some VERY serious charges.

Unlike the movies, in the actual military, belting an officer or anyone senior to you is considered a gravely serious offense against Good Order and Discipline. It is an offense tried by court-martials rather than non-judicial punishment within the command. Upon conviction, you will do hard time at Fort Leavenworth for a couple of years and get a Bad Conduct Discharge as well. This basically makes you a felon when you get out.