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Thread: How soldiers deal with the job of killing

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    JMA & Motorfirebox: When Marlantes made his statement:

    "The ideal response to killing in war should be one similar to a mercy killing, sadness mingled with respect."

    Didn't that refer to how he felt the thing as a whole should be viewed decades, maybe many decades later? I don't have a copy to refer to (the library copy isn't back yet) so I may have the context wrong but what I remember is something more along the lines of being proud of professional accomplishment but a bit sad that the accomplishment involved killing a lot of people, NVA soldiers, who may not have had much choice about being there. Again I remember him saying that after decades of reflection, this is how he felt he should best view it.

    That he came to that after so much time implies that Marlantes, the old man came to the conclusion that that is how old men should best view it. But what worked good for Marlantes long after the fighting stopped. For others who knows?
    I reread the chapter just to be sure I didn't miss something.

    Yes the book comprises Marlantes' reflections looking back some 40 years.

    At the end of the chapter he sums it up like this:

    We cannot expect normal eighteen year olds to kill someone and contain it in a healthy way. They must be helped to sort out what will be healthy grief about taking a life because it is part of the sorrow of war.
    You see here we go in the direction of Grossman in the thinking that killing is somehow 'bad' and will inevitably lead to feelings of guilt and grief.

    Not so. Combat killing in war is not murder, it is not a homicide, it is a justifiable killing. (I'm not talking atrocities here)

    I am involved with a compilation of narratives written by individuals who served in my regiment during my little war. If there is grief it is over their mates who were KIA. Here is some 'raw data' from one account:

    ... Literally the minute we hit the ground the $hit hit the fan. All hell broke loose and a long and fierce fire fight took place. I experienced just about everything a soldier could expect to face in a lifetime in the army. There were airstrikes that nearly hit us, a terrorist threw and hit me with an empty AK magazine, two of my friends Kevin and Kim were seriously injured and flown out, and I had my first kill. I have never forgotten that moment….18 years old and I took another human beings life. Raised as a Catholic this had a severe impact on me. The worst was to come. At the end of the day we had to retrace our movements and collect all the bodies and drag them to a pick up point. The sight of the fatal injuries were horrific, limbs shattered, huge holes everywhere, exposed internal organs and brains oozing and falling adrift from the bodies. The yellow fat, the flies and the stench of death was gut retching. No training could have prepared me for this... "
    Did this kid fall apart then or later? No, like the vast majority of others who went through that mill he just got on with his life.

    That viewpoint would not be so workable for soldiers during and in the immediate aftermath of fight I imagine. I read once of a B-26 crew that caught a Chinese unit in the open in the daylight and killed over 1,000, that one crew. Feeling anything but pride and happiness that those dead Chinese weren't around to kill G.I.s would have been a handicap to future missions.
    Exactly. If you have heard the 'Green Leader' audio from a camp attack against ZIPRA in Zambia (nah... not a refugee camp) one can hear from the cockpit transmissions this euphoria you speak of.

    I am not sure his descent into sex, drugs and rock and roll isn't anything more than a young man leaving a highly regimented world and entering the US of the late 60s and 70s (I forgot if he partied in Europe too). Sex, drugs and rock and roll was a way of life easily engaged in by a lot of people in those days. Maybe it had something to do with his combat experience but maybe it had just as much to do with being a young man in a place where it was easy.
    Well maybe I oversimplify his experience by using 'sex, drugs and rock and roll'. He claims to have has visions of the face of an NVA who threw a grenade at him and who he mat or may not have killed. I don't for one minute doubt his account but I do have my concerns of his mental state if that is all it took to tip him over the edge.

    Perhaps for this and other reasons your man, Ken White, has stated often here that there should be some sort of psychological screening of all soldiers attempting to enter the service. (maybe he can clarify)

    My experience is that those who had issues had them already when they entered the service. Combat had little to do with their later problems although 'the war' was a convenient excuse to hide behind.

    I always thought Grossman was dead wrong too. He always talked about humans instead of culture and I never remembered reading anything about the Mongols being troubled by angst. The comments section in the Best Defense junior officer preferred reads list cited by JMA tore Grossman apart.
    Not in the comment I read:

    7. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman
    Pete Kilner: This book opened my eyes to the psychological, physical and even moral impacts of killing another human being. As professionals of arms, we recruit, equip, train and order our Soldiers to kill. On Killing gave me a much deeper appreciation for what it’s like to kill, as well as how I can help my Soldiers prepare for and make sense of killing in war.
    C.J. Douglas: I read this book with my company leadership— officers and SNCOs [senior non-commissioned officers]— prior to deploying to Iraq each time. It served as a discussion primer for the company to talk about the human factors in combat.
    So please guide me to the critical comment.

    What is sad is that they need to work off Grossman as a base. There should be something better available for use.

    Not all of the writing is about guys who have problems. Most maybe because problems are inherently more dramatic than people who are well adjusted. But not all. Bob Greene wrote a very good book called "Duty" (I think). It was about his father and also about Paul Tibbets whom Greene got to know very well. IIRC Tibbets had no guilt, was proud of his unit and its accomplishment and knew that dropping the bomb ended the war sooner thereby saving many.
    Yes but... I'll bet the book 'Black Hearts: One platoon's descent into madness in Iraq's triangle of death' will sell more copies than that book about normal, well adjusted soldiers (read boring) as opposed to a bunch of head-jobs.

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    Default The psychology behind war-time entertainers

    This headline nearly put me off even reading this BBC report, it has some "gems":
    Prof Jones said a study undertaken in January and February 2010, found that around 70% of troops reported high levels of unit cohesion, and this was associated with having better mental health.

    The report also found that the increased risks encountered in forward operating bases and patrol bases in Afghanistan were off-set by morale and esprit de corps. Yet, psychological problems and severe stress are not unavoidable, especially for those who have been on multiple tours to the region.

    The charity Combat Stress say that rates of post traumatic stress disorder in personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are around 4%.

    The King's College London study says this increases to 7% for UK frontline troops in Afghanistan. US forces experience higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder - 13% - due to longer tours of duty, and the use of reservists of a younger age.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16973421
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    You see here we go in the direction of Grossman in the thinking that killing is somehow 'bad' and will inevitably lead to feelings of guilt and grief. .

    Not so. Combat killing in war is not murder, it is not a homicide, it is a justifiable killing. (I'm not talking atrocities here).
    Agreed. Perhaps Marlantes is mixing up what would be normal from a civilian peacetime standpoint and what would work in that situation, with what is in the best intests of the man in wartime and what would work in the that situation. The object of "what would work" is to help the man function normally in the months and years to come. Since the situations are so different, what would work would be different too.

    Marlantes suggestion should be born in mind though, for if it proved useful to him, it may be proved useful to others. Another tool to be used if needed so to speak.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    He claims to have has visions of the face of an NVA who threw a grenade at him and who he mat or may not have killed..
    The father of a freind was a 20mm Oerlikon gunner on a ship in the Pacific in WWII. A natural born gunner like the man said in Twelvo O'Clock High. They were under Japanese air attack and Japanese plane flew by his gun very very close heading for a nearby ship. My freind's father swung the gun to kill the pilot, did so and splashed the plane immediately. The plane was close enought to see the pilot clearly and he always felt bad about what he did, not about splashing the plane, but about aiming for the pilot instead of the engine. It didn't matter that the quickest and surest way to down the plane was to get the pilot. He still felt bad.

    So I believe that Marlantes sees that and maybe his way of looking at the thing would have helped that one particular Oerlikon gunner, then or later on.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    So please guide me to the critical comment..
    I didn't read the Company Commander comment. The first 4 comments to the Best Defense blog post itself tear Grossman apart. Sorry for the confused wording on my part.

    http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts...eir_own_top_10

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Yes but... I'll bet the book 'Black Hearts: One platoon's descent into madness in Iraq's triangle of death' will sell more copies than that book about normal, well adjusted soldiers (read boring) as opposed to a bunch of head-jobs.
    True, Black Hearts may sell more. But a good thing to take from that as far as junior leaders reading it may be that they will learn more per page from a narritive of failures.

    If you ever get a chance to read Duty, I would be interested in what you think. It is more about a son relating to his dead father though.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Yes but... I'll bet the book 'Black Hearts: One platoon's descent into madness in Iraq's triangle of death' will sell more copies than that book about normal, well adjusted soldiers (read boring) as opposed to a bunch of head-jobs.
    Have you read Black Hearts? I'm pretty sure the reason why it's a favorite among young officers is because it is a remarkably sharp picture of how massive leadership failures at the battalion and company level, combined with lack of forces (reflecting a much broader leadership failure), led to an almost intolerable strain on the platoon in question. That strain led directly to the lack of supervision which allowed some soldiers to commit the atrocities they did. It's one of the best books about the dynamics of one platoon throughout the entirety of their tour to come out of the Iraq war. It's a good read for platoon and company leaders, and an even better one for NCOs.

    It's clear from reading the book that most of the platoon are not "head jobs" - Green, the ringleader, who is a clear "head job" and regarded as such by most of the platoon, is not the focus of the book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Agreed. Perhaps Marlantes is mixing up what would be normal from a civilian peacetime standpoint and what would work in that situation, with what is in the best intests of the man in wartime and what would work in the that situation. The object of "what would work" is to help the man function normally in the months and years to come. Since the situations are so different, what would work would be different too.

    Marlantes suggestion should be born in mind though, for if it proved useful to him, it may be proved useful to others. Another tool to be used if needed so to speak.
    Yes, Marlantes obviously had to work through some stuff. Initially when he told of the incident of the NVA and the grenade he said he could not be sure whether he or hi radio op killed him. In the Chapter 'Guilt' he talks of the NVA he had killed... no longer any doubt it seems.

    The issue here as I see it is when the officers have a tenuous grip on reality what chance do the troopies have? Marlantes speaks of being the second oldest in the company at 22. The oldest being the company commander at 23. This asks big questions of the USMC of that era as to where were all the NCOs who are the backbone of the Corps?

    There are of course many other questions that are raised... but I don't wish to digress.

    How Marlantes finally pulled himself together is less of an issue than how one so 'fragile' found himself in a position of command in combat in the first place. Then again we have his company commander was all of 23 and could hardly be expected to guide and council a young platoon commander during his introduction to combat... and of course where were the old/experienced NCOs when you needed them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Have you read Black Hearts? I'm pretty sure the reason why it's a favorite among young officers is because it is a remarkably sharp picture of how massive leadership failures at the battalion and company level, combined with lack of forces (reflecting a much broader leadership failure), led to an almost intolerable strain on the platoon in question. That strain led directly to the lack of supervision which allowed some soldiers to commit the atrocities they did. It's one of the best books about the dynamics of one platoon throughout the entirety of their tour to come out of the Iraq war. It's a good read for platoon and company leaders, and an even better one for NCOs.

    It's clear from reading the book that most of the platoon are not "head jobs" - Green, the ringleader, who is a clear "head job" and regarded as such by most of the platoon, is not the focus of the book.
    Read my comment again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    The father of a freind was a 20mm Oerlikon gunner on a ship in the Pacific in WWII. A natural born gunner like the man said in Twelvo O'Clock High. They were under Japanese air attack and Japanese plane flew by his gun very very close heading for a nearby ship. My freind's father swung the gun to kill the pilot, did so and splashed the plane immediately. The plane was close enought to see the pilot clearly and he always felt bad about what he did, not about splashing the plane, but about aiming for the pilot instead of the engine. It didn't matter that the quickest and surest way to down the plane was to get the pilot. He still felt bad.

    So I believe that Marlantes sees that and maybe his way of looking at the thing would have helped that one particular Oerlikon gunner, then or later on.
    OK, what Marlantes said was:

    "The ideal response to killing in war should be one similar to a mercy killing, sadness mingled with respect."

    How do you teach this? Where does the 'mercy killing' angle come from? When the enemy gives you a hard time killing them it is nowhere near a 'mercy killing' which insinuates you assisting a helpless person on their way. If they have given a good account of themselves then some grudging respect would follow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Read my comment again.
    You appear to be characterizing the book as being about a bunch of nutjobs who raped and murdered an Iraqi girl. The book is not really about that at all, which is why it is one of the more popular books among junior officers (or at least those who read Company Command).

    As a fellow Marine, I'm going to step up and defend Marlantes a little bit. Haven't read the second book, but have listened to a few interviews that he has given, so have heard some biographical information that you might not have. I'm not sure where you get the idea that Marlantes was a head case or an ineffective officer, but he did win the Navy Cross and numerous other medals in Vietnam. They don't give that first one out for just checking the box - his citation is here for those interested.

    He also emerged from the rock 'n' roll Sixties with a Yale degree and became a Rhodes Scholar post-Vietnam, so maybe he didn't quite disintegrate to the extent you appear to be picturing? He did say that he never had any PTSD-type symptoms until after decades as a successful energy consultant in Asia.

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    JMA:

    When he used the term mercy killing, I didn't think of people, I thought of animals. You put down a horse or a dog when you have to. Maybe Marlantes meant people but what I got was animals and I think that viewpoint would be more helpful to some, not all.

    You can't teach it and I don't think it may be all that relevant but if an occasional individual was troubled by something, a suggestion that he think of it that way may be of help.

    Very young officers and NCOs was perhaps the best that could be done in Vietnam. As the war progressed the NCOs got younger and younger because IIRC all the older guys who started out weren't available anymore, many because they didn't want to face the prospect of deployment after deployment. Maybe the same thing with the officers. We had a lot of people over there for years. That added to the inequities of the draft system and there just wasn't that much to choose from.

    Marlantes was young but he was a very effective combat officer. The choice wasn't really between a Marlantes and somebody better; at that time it was between a Marlantes and a Calley.
    Last edited by carl; 02-14-2012 at 09:06 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    You appear to be characterizing the book as being about a bunch of nutjobs who raped and murdered an Iraqi girl. The book is not really about that at all, which is why it is one of the more popular books among junior officers (or at least those who read Company Command).
    What I said was:

    Yes but... I'll bet the book 'Black Hearts: One platoon's descent into madness in Iraq's triangle of death' will sell more copies than that book about normal, well adjusted soldiers (read boring) as opposed to a bunch of head-jobs.
    No I have not read the book... but on the publicity in the media those involved in the rape and murders were indeed head-jobs. I mean does a sane person commit rape and murder? The death penalty should be obligatory in such cases.

    Back to my point... my position is simply that books dealing with such horrific crimes will (sadly) attract more readers than one about the non headline grabbing exploits of an officer who led his troops carefully and courageously through some operational tour.

    As a fellow Marine, I'm going to step up and defend Marlantes a little bit.
    He needs no defence. He has chosen to go public with his thoughts on this (and other) matters. What he writes can this be debated without fear or favour.

    My point relating to my joy at reading this book by Marlantes is that he has been there and done that (Navy Cross, Bronze Star and more). This makes what he writes more credible than Grossman, Beevor, Holmes, Bourke etc who appear not to have experienced combat.

    That said it does not mean that what he says in incontestable or that his bravery awards should he held up to somehow excuse his self admitted 'issues'. Not so.

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    Default "...does a sane person commit rape and murder?"

    Yes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    JMA:

    When he used the term mercy killing, I didn't think of people, I thought of animals. You put down a horse or a dog when you have to. Maybe Marlantes meant people but what I got was animals and I think that viewpoint would be more helpful to some, not all.
    Yes he spoke of two incidents. One where he saved an injured seagull from dogs then rung its neck and having to have his dog put down.

    Let me repeat what I said earlier:

    At the end of the chapter he sums it up like this:

    We cannot expect normal eighteen year olds to kill someone and contain it in a healthy way. They must be helped to sort out what will be healthy grief about taking a life because it is part of the sorrow of war.
    You see here we go in the direction of Grossman in the thinking that killing is somehow 'bad' and will inevitably lead to feelings of guilt and grief.

    Not so. Combat killing in war is not murder, it is not a homicide, it is a justifiable killing. (I'm not talking atrocities here)

    Very young officers and NCOs was perhaps the best that could be done in Vietnam. As the war progressed the NCOs got younger and younger because IIRC all the older guys who started out weren't available anymore, many because they didn't want to face the prospect of deployment after deployment. Maybe the same thing with the officers. We had a lot of people over there for years. That added to the inequities of the draft system and there just wasn't that much to choose from.
    I seems to have turned into a Henry Ford type production line by the end.

    Talking about the older NCOs I noted that where they had been in the service before the war (meaning they joined up in peacetime for peacetime) tended to fall out early (meaning leave the service or find less onerous posts from where to see out the war). The younger ones who joined up during the war (or for the war) seemed to last a lot better. Similar back then for the US maybe?

    Marlantes was young but he was a very effective combat officer. The choice wasn't really between a Marlantes and somebody better; at that time it was between a Marlantes and a Calley.
    Help me understand it. He did a year (?) tour of which how long was he a platoon commander? Raw soldiers and officers often do well but there is no substitute for experience.

    I don't follow the link with Calley.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Yes.

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    Don't agree

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    Default Numbers...

    JMA:
    This asks big questions of the USMC of that era as to where were all the NCOs who are the backbone of the Corps?
    Carl:
    Very young officers and NCOs was perhaps the best that could be done in Vietnam. As the war progressed the NCOs got younger and younger because IIRC all the older guys who started out weren't available anymore, many because they didn't want to face the prospect of deployment after deployment. Maybe the same thing with the officers. We had a lot of people over there for years. That added to the inequities of the draft system and there just wasn't that much to choose from.
    JMA:
    Talking about the older NCOs I noted that where they had been in the service before the war (meaning they joined up in peacetime for peacetime) tended to fall out early (meaning leave the service or find less onerous posts from where to see out the war). The younger ones who joined up during the war (or for the war) seemed to last a lot better. Similar back then for the US maybe?
    Those who served in WW II -- most of the senior NCOs in the Marines and the Army -- hit 20 years service and retirement eligibility in 1962. Some retired but most continued to serve, headed for 30 years. When the US committed to Viet Nam in large numbers, the relatively smaller pre-Viet Nam services had NCOs scattered around the world in jobs that ranged from non-essential to essential. The units that deployed to Viet Nam in 1965-66 took a slew of experienced senior NCOs and most did fairly well. Those NCOs finished their tours in 1966-67 and returned to CONUS. The 'second string' of NCOs culled from around the World went to VN in 1966-67 and they did less well but at least they were there. By 1968-69, it was time for the 'third string' -- except there was none. The stopgap was to send graduates of the Non-Commissioned Officers Candidate course as SGTs to VN plus some returning senior NCOs from the 1965-66 era and a second tour. Good kids, do anything you asked but they didn't know much...

    In the meantime, the world wide commitments did not go away; they were culled and cut but there were still plenty of requirements. In 1969 I volunteered to go to VN for a third tour but they called me and said as I had two tours, I would instead go fill a shortfall at either SHAPE or in the MAAG in Iran, my choice -- but VN was out for me. What had also happened was the folks who had completed a second tour decided to depart as had some after a single tour. Most of the WW II folks had over 25 years by 1967 and decided that WWI, Korea and A VN tour were enough. Those of us who'd been in Korea but not WW II couldn't have retired if we wanted to but we were sent to fiull those other requirements so that folks who had been in those slots could get a tour in the SEA War Games.

    It all boils down to numbers -- demand exceeded supply due to casualties and retirements and the Army and Marines were directed to not hold anyone over involuntarily to avoid upsetting Voters. Lyndon didn't want to do that. In 2004, Bush did it regardless...

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    Default Carl:

    from you
    The comments section in the Best Defense junior officer preferred reads list cited by JMA tore Grossman apart.
    Buried in that comments section, is a link to Tom Aveni's critique of certain Grossman statements, The Dave Grossman Debate. Aveni is part of a larger LEO webpage, The Police Policy Council, which deals with the practical side (as well as the legal side) of LE use of deadly force - and of the various switches that flip or are flipped.

    Aveni's work is well known in Michigan because of The MMRMA Deadly Force Project: A Critical Analysis of Police Shootings Under Ambiguous Circumstances (Thomas J. Aveni, MSFP; The Police Policy Studies Counci; February 9, 2008).

    I discussed that report and its findings in the HVT thread, Back to the "Standard of Proof" .....

    Regards

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    You see here we go in the direction of Grossman in the thinking that killing is somehow 'bad' and will inevitably lead to feelings of guilt and grief.

    Not so. Combat killing in war is not murder, it is not a homicide, it is a justifiable killing. (I'm not talking atrocities here)
    I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Talking about the older NCOs I noted that where they had been in the service before the war (meaning they joined up in peacetime for peacetime) tended to fall out early (meaning leave the service or find less onerous posts from where to see out the war). The younger ones who joined up during the war (or for the war) seemed to last a lot better. Similar back then for the US maybe?
    Professor White is the man to ask. I only know what I read. Now if you want to know how to give soccer moms speeding tickets without them getting mad at you, I'm the guy to ask.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Help me understand it. He did a year (?) tour of which how long was he a platoon commander? Raw soldiers and officers often do well but there is no substitute for experience.
    Again, refer to Prof. White. But from what I've read, that was a common pattern, at least with the Army. Six months with troops and then six months in some kind of staff position. Madness.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I don't follow the link with Calley.
    I understood you to say that Marlantes had some weaknesses from your point of view. When I mentioned Calley, it was along the same lines as when Ken said demand exceeded supply. The choice we had wasn't between Marlantes and an officer who wouldn't have had the weaknesses you perceived. It was between him and a horror of an officer like Calley.

    Mike: I read Aveni's critique of Grossman that was buried in the comments. Very good and I got to bed later than usual that night.

    Thank you for providing the link to that MMRMA report. I will read it. That kind of thing still fascinates me.
    Last edited by carl; 02-15-2012 at 06:56 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I understood you to say that Marlantes had some weaknesses from your point of view. When I mentioned Calley, it was along the same lines as when Ken said demand exceeded supply. The choice we had wasn't between Marlantes and an officer who wouldn't have had the weaknesses you perceived. It was between him and a horror of an officer like Calley.
    Marlantes' problems (thankfully for his troops) seemed to manifest themselves after his service in Vietnam. The fact that (by his own admission) he became barely functional for a period indicates that problem (rather than a weakness). So then by all accounts Marlantes' service in Vietnam was good.

    So it all comes back to selection then. My point is that one needs to set minimum levels for intellectual capability (SAT, ACT) and physical ability and spend most of the time the leadership and performance under stress tests ... with the odd psych test thrown in.

    The first prize is that nobody falls apart either during or after combat service.

    Second prize is that the officer can hold himself and his men together during that combat service and face what the future brings thereafter.

    An absolute no-no is for an officer himself to fall apart during a combat tour or prove to be unable to provide the necessary leadership to help his men keep it together when under the stress of combat. Officer selection should attempt to screen for this.

    Where this selection and screening fails and the officer fails to perform in combat (and on operations in general) he should be relieved immediately.
    Last edited by JMA; 02-15-2012 at 08:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    An absolute no-no is for an officer himself to fall apart during a combat tour or prove to be unable to provide the necessary leadership to help his men keep it together when under the stress of combat. Officer selection should attempt to screen for this.
    JMA, by your measure the Wehrmacht was a terrible military force.

    Its officers were falling apart quite often, turned into walking dead, many became alcoholics (especially in rear or flying units).

    They did send their officers into vacation, into especially healthy and relaxing Kurorte", sent them away from combat on staff or training assignments and so on or simply insisted that they recovered fully after injuries, requiring weeks of recovery from combat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    JMA, by your measure the Wehrmacht was a terrible military force.

    Its officers were falling apart quite often, turned into walking dead, many became alcoholics (especially in rear or flying units).

    They did send their officers into vacation, into especially healthy and relaxing Kurorte", sent them away from combat on staff or training assignments and so on or simply insisted that they recovered fully after injuries, requiring weeks of recovery from combat.
    Methinks you misunderstand me.

    An officer falling apart in combat is the worst case scenario. Panic spreads faster than lightning (I'm told). Therefore all efforts must be made to prevent that happening. When it happens, and it will, act quickly to remove and replace he person.

    Two problems. In peacetime there is less importance attached to careful officer selection (based on the martial requirements of soldiering) so those with gregarious sociability (but often little backbone) seem to slip through the selection net. As the war progresses the standard of candidates for officer selection starts to drop and the demand for 'numbers' allows weaker candidates to slip through.

    While this is happening with the officers the NCOs are having their own problems (read recent post by Ken White on the matter). So at the end of the day you hope and pray your enemy are having greater problems than you are in this regard... because in the end it is the least incompetent military that wins the fighting war (of course the politicians are bound to screw that up as well).

    Rotations are a good thing if they can be maintained (which as the war drags on they probably can't). The system which I agreed with was based on three years as a platoon/troop commander and thereafter 18 months/two years per posting.

    The 'route' followed by an officer would be determined by his performance and not some egalitarian ticket punching requirement. That's as I see it.
    Last edited by JMA; 02-15-2012 at 05:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The system which I agreed with was based on three years as a platoon/troop commander and thereafter 18 months/two years per posting.

    Let's assume a small platoon of 20 and 100% officer retention for 30 years. Plus: The entire army is made up of platoons and all-officers staffs, nothing else.

    5% of the platoon force would be officers, and 100% of the rest.
    With officers serving 1/10th of their career as Plt Ldr, this would mean that there are 9 times as many officers outside of the platoons than inside.
    It would be a 2/3 platoon 1/3 staff force with a ratio of enlisted/NCO : officer of 19:10.


    Reduce officer retention and the qty of needed Plts would rise, increase platoon size and the army size needed to train enough officers as preparation for worse times would rise. Add non-officers to staffs and staffs would be even more bloated.
    Additional layers of command can for the sake of simple math be considered represented by the staff pool.


    3 years Plt command for every officer is simply unacceptable. Feel free to calculate it with variables of your choice; you end up with the conclusion that there are simply not enough platoons.



    It might be debatable to send a 2nd Lt to a Coy, then promote him to 1st Lt once accustomed with the Coy's mode of operation and assign him to a Plt command for a year. The feel free to extend this for the best 1st Lts - not as an arrested career, but as a distinction and preparation for higher commands.

    3 years for all is too much.

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