View Full Version : Responding with Aggression.

01-18-2007, 08:42 AM
It is my intent to use the following as a supplementary training method for my squad, however I am interested to know if forum members have used/heard of something similar and have any opinions on the matter.

Aggression training where on a starting signal (starters pistol, blank ammunition, pyros or similar) the soldier hits a strike pad as hard, fast and aggressively as they can for 45-60sec.

It is my endstate for them have an aggressive adrenal response on hearing gunfire.

I look forward to hearing your comments.

01-18-2007, 11:36 AM
It is my intent to use the following as a supplementary training method for my squad, however I am interested to know if forum members have used/heard of something similar and have any opinions on the matter.

Aggression training where on a starting signal (starters pistol, blank ammunition, pyros or similar) the soldier hits a strike pad as hard, fast and aggressively as they can for 45-60sec.

It is my endstate for them have an aggressive adrenal response on hearing gunfire.

I look forward to hearing your comments.

The thesis for your training is that gunfire must precipitate an aggressive response in all cases. This could work against you. Here's why.

Joe is going to follow the guy who he percieves is going to keep him alive the longest. In most cases, that leader is the guy who can "keep his head when all about him are losing theirs" and, as Kevin Costner said in For the Love of the Game, those who can "start the mechanism."

Recall also that sometimes the best reaction is to do nothing, particularly as the ROE becomes more restrictive. By initializing a "Pavlov's Dog" approach to training, you may inadvertantly spark an animal instinct that can be unneccessary and counterproductive to your mission.

Train your guys, rather, on the fundamentals of patrolling. Teach them tactical questioning. Get them smart on CLS skills. Train them on weapons effects in the urban environment.

And, above all, teach them how to think, not what to think.

01-18-2007, 11:38 AM
Edited - RTK, I see that heavy Stanley Cup didn't slow you down at all. Well posted and faster on the "submit reply" button than me. Great minds think alike.

FOFEBA, if I understand your intent correctly, I have these thoughts initially:

1) You would have to do an awful lot of that to get the Pavlov's dog conditioning that you seek, and make it portable to the combat environment.

2) Discretion, discrimination, and proportionality are massively important factors in the application of that response, and often inhibited by the adrenal gland.

Recommend immediate action drills from the same initiator but requiring a more complex choreography of a unit, and/or a thinking shoot / no shoot response from an individual. These, in my mind, have more upside and less downside than the knee-jerk "hit something" drill. The basic warrior spirit must be instilled, and thing like the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program are excellent at it. But we must keep thinking dial-a-yield instruments, not automatons.

Rob Thornton
01-18-2007, 12:44 PM
Aggression may not always be what you want. I hear gunfire all day long - when Iraq beat Korea in the Asian semi-finals there were traces all around. IA and IP fire off warning shots all day long at TCPs and on patrols - damn there just went another one. If you train a response to something without knowing what it is, you might get yourself and your men into a jam. What you want are guys to understand what they are hearing so they can take the appropriate actions. When I hear PKC fire, or somebody start to dump an AK mag (our IA are trained rapid singles and to stay away from "round the coner automatic"), then I know there is something going on. Even if you only hear one round of sniper fire, would you really want guys going aggresive - generally the snipers here shoot from key holes, and take one shot and then hit or miss they break contact. What I think you might consider is getting guys to understand their "flight or fight" impulses and make good decisions that PID targets, then take the right actions. For just some good training in dealing with strss and training marksmanship though you might google stress shoots. Hope that helps.
Regards, Rob

01-18-2007, 02:22 PM
Some years ago Soldier of Fortune magazine did an article about how the Selous Scouts were trained. They used to make them run around a track and at certain intervals instructors would strike them on the leg with a rubber hose like device. The proper response from the candidate was to keep moving and not stop. jcustis is a council member that knows a lot about the Scouts he might be able to help. They were into aggression training if I remember the article well enough. My personal opinion is to tie the gunfire stimulus to a weapon response such as, raise-aim-identify threat-shoot. I think you could end up with some problems by using a hand to hand combat response to a gunfire type threat.

01-18-2007, 03:23 PM
To get near autonomic response a majority of the time is going to take approximately 7000 to 15000 training cycles. So, let's say you do this "gun shot" and strike the bag for a minute, and do that 20 times. That is one training cycle. But, there is something else at work. If you have any of the group standing by as the other soldier is striking the bag they are being reinforced to NOT not be aggressive as they are not striking the bag. Further you will be reinforcing NOT to have the aggressive response at the rifle range, pistol range, etc... So the training cycles necessary will increase to get the autonomic response level higher. Even then it will vary widely between individuals.

As other have stated this may not be the type of response you want in a target rich environment with restrictive rules of engagement. Also, do you want to create automatons that when they return to the world hear a car backfire and slug their spousal accessory unit for 45-60 seconds?

If you're looking to create cold calculating heart breakers and life takers consider changing the mental response stimulus to stress. The human response "trained" reflex is about a third of second from stimulus to response. The acquire, analyze, response portion can take seconds to initiate action and determine the correct course of action. Adrenalin actually negatively impacts that process as it takes substantial time for that process to ramp up and it has little to no real cognitive effect.

What you likely are really trying to get is instantaneous correct response to unknown situations. Without having a script (programmed training), you want them to respond correctly to stimulus instantly. Football coaches make lineman run at them and direct them left or right without telegraphing the direction and the lineman has to respond. That is a simplistic version of what you're trying to do. The previous example of running and being rubber hosed and keeping the pace is another example. Reading poetry or koans while being beat with rattan swords is a final example. Each item is either shortening response time, resistance to physical adversity, or mental acuity under substantial physical pressure.

Depending on what you're expecting them to do there are several exercises you could implement at the small unit level to shorten the analysis response cycle. Tell us more about what you perceive the problem to be and we'll see what we can do to help.

01-18-2007, 11:31 PM
It has been said that the road to ruin is paved with good intentions.

Thank you all for such swift replies. I realise that not every situation would require such a response however I do want to foster an aggressive, "up and at them" mentality.

The development of mindset is the ends that I intend, the strike pad is a means, substitution with other combat / stress activities would be considered. Here I would appreciate guidance from those more experienced than myself or pointed in the right direction.

As many have mentioned, direction and application of said aggression is situation dependant, especially in regard to urban COIN and the assosciated RoE.

I don't want to lead a squad of "killbots", I want men who will have the drive to do that which is necessary so that in the end the mission succeeds and we all come home.

You have provided some food for thought, thanks again.

Tom Odom
01-19-2007, 01:46 PM
I would suggest you go for thinking; I am not proposing a "pipe smoking quasi intellectual sit on the leather couch," approach.

Take a card from the old Leader's Reaction Course (copied from the Germans after WWII) but do it in a quick verbal and hands on scenario, give the target audience 15 seconds to make a decision--and yes that is too long--and then pick a victim. Have them state or act out their solution--AND EXPLAIN WHY they chose it.

The key is teach them to think as they make decisions rather than thinking before they make decisions or not thinking at all.



01-19-2007, 04:46 PM
heck if he wanted to have some fun he could play an old game like "smack down"

Take a deck of cards split it into red and black suits. Take for example the black suits (26 cards) and sprinkle five red suit cards into the partial deck. Have the guys stand around a table, barrel, something flat. Flip the card onto the table. When a red card pops the slap down on it. Person with their hand on it wins. It's good for a fist fight or two. It's best to play with drunks and for money (I don't drink). Unfortunately it only builds one area of reaction time.

01-20-2007, 12:58 PM
IPSC and other "shooting games" are wonderful for developing a combat mindset and aggressive response.

Playing Table fussball is also good for developing reaction times.

Some of the "shooting" video games can be used to develop aggressiveness.

There is definitely a need to counter aggressiveness training with prayer, meditation or other calming activities, as it will help your "trainees" from becoming very unhappy people. I don't see anything wrong with a philisophical aggressiveness. It helps you develop "mindset".

01-22-2007, 03:56 PM
I think it was in my 6th or 7th firefight that when it opened up I froze and pissed in my pants. the best reaction time training there is is the hand game: two men face each other, one palms up, his opponent has his hands palm down on top of the palms up. The palms up man scores by being able to slap his opponents hand(s) either by crossing over or rotating over and down on top his opponents hand(s), one or both hands moving. Slap and not get slapped. When the palms up/slapper misses, they switch roles.It all starts and ends with the hands, either by grabbing or repulsing with the hands - the wrist, forearms, upper arms and shoulders follow the hands intent. It's what initiates bringing up a weapon be it rifle, pistol, knife, club or fist. Everything follows the intent of the hands to engage or repel, the ol' fight or flight programmed into us by the Creator.

So split your team facing each other, eyes locked, one side palms up to slap, the other side palms down to evade and you stand off to the side with a pistol and fire it into the ground - they slap/evade when they hear a shot. Make your shots random, sometimes waiting 15-20 seconds to shoot, then again maybe 2 seconds before firing another round. Use one clip then have the men switch roles then go through another clip, then mix up team opponents and go through 2 more clips in the same fashion. This conditions them to only the sound of a gunshot, not the opponents eye movements or nerve twitches. They will know who has the best reaction times but that part isn't important as walking back in from patrol is and not via med evac or body bag.