[nb: during World War II, when some impressive rumors were
finally substantiated by authentic after action reports, the
headquarters of both the Special Air Service and the Long Range
Desert Group were overwhelmed by applicants, most of whom were
unqualified and many of whom were only ambitious for eminence, so
the winnowing process was inaugurated by an application ordeal
designed to be so tedious and frustrating that only the most
serious minded and sincerely devoted would bother completing it
... proving that they, the less than one percent, were worthy of
further scrutiny and of undertaking additional training]
Although there are many aptitude tests, some quite extensive and
elaborate, the military often needs to make accurate assessments
as quickly and simply as possible, so placement specialists have
resorted to some crude but effective methods of evaluation. This
diagnostic appraisal is one such technique for properly placing
The Sandbag Test
Set up this test by stacking a large quantity of new sandbags in
the center of an empty room. Send the new recruits into that same
room, without any directions or instructions, and then close the
door, leaving them alone with the sandbags.
Return to the room after four hours and analyze the results.
Depending upon the ensuing situation, make the appropriate
If they are counting the sandbags, then congratulate them and
send them to the Finance Corps.
If they are re-counting them and segregating them by some
mysterious method, send them to the Inspector General's Corps.
If they have systematically arranged the sandbags in uniform
bundles, posted each with a distribution sign, allocating the
greatest number for surplus, then send them to the Quartermaster
If they are talking to each other but no sandbags have been
moved, congratulate them and send them to signal communications.
If they claim to have thoroughly examined the stacks, have
considered various options but are looking for more, yet no
sandbags are disturbed, congratulate them and send them to the
If they are staring out of the window, looking worried or
anxious, assign them to the Chaplain's Corps.
If they are arranging the sandbags in some strange order, put
them in the Planning staff section.
If they have bound the sandbags into identical lots and arrayed
them in orderly rows, send them to the Transportation Corps.
If they have broken the stacks apart and are reducing each
sandbag to its constituent parts, then send them to the
If they have disarranged the stacked sandbags and completely
messed-up the room, then send them to the Engineer Corps.
If they are sitting idle and inactive on the stacked sandbags,
then congratulate them and assign them to the Personnel section.
If they are sleeping on nests of sandbags, awaken them and send
them to the Military Police branch.
If they have already departed, leaving the room as they found it,
sign them up for officer's training school.
If they have stuffed some sandbags with others and are flailing
away at each other, throwing some sandbags and using others as
shields, then send them to the Operations staff section.
If they have surrounded themselves with bundled sandbags,
somewhat imitative of a defensive fortification, such that they
can neither be seen nor heard, but only imagined, then send them
to the Pentagon!