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Thread: Army teaching kids to be killers?

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    Default Army teaching kids to be killers?

    I can't say I particularly like this piece of journalism, especially the last line:

    "Thirteen year-old David Petruzzi just came here to play the game, but if he's hooked, someday the Army could order him to pull the trigger for real."

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    I can't say I particularly like this piece of journalism, especially the last line:

    "Thirteen year-old David Petruzzi just came here to play the game, but if he's hooked, someday the Army could order him to pull the trigger for real."
    Andy, I concur; very poor ad lib journalism.

    This July 2008 article from Truthout dot org at least puts a favorable spin on the Army and video game.

    What the game's "realism" is attempting to do is to mask the violent reality of combat, and military experience in general, for very specific purposes. At a minimum, the Army hopes "America's Army" will act as "strategic communication" to expose "kids who are college bound and technologically savvy" to positive messaging about the Army.
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    Default Another interesting read on the subject

    http://www.truthout.org/article/us-m...ruits-children

    The posts after the article are an insightful read to say the least. I especially like how many try to link it to PTSD and everything else under the sun.
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    I once attempted to have a conversation with a graduate student who was wasting his time getting riled up about such endeavors that he deemed to be unacceptable "militaristic" influences upon our youths. He was convinced that violent video games were helping to cultivate a future generation of cold-blooded killers who would be ideal for the military killing machine.

    I asked him, "have you ever played the Madden football video game?"

    "Yes," he answered.

    "Do you think that if you played that often enough that you would become a better football player?"

    Incidentally, this young idealist, who had never seen the world beyond his hometown or the edges of his college campus, had no problems with the smut influences of Hollywood, pornography, pop culture, fringe political movements, or other nonsense. He just didn't like the military.

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    I've got to hand it to CNN. That was yellow journalism and they clearly have no problem with that. The link that ODB posted, though, was awesome, one of the best examples of the use of sophistry and specious logic I have ever seen I have personally ever seen.

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    Default So I shouldn't

    Be teaching my 10 year old daughter ready up drills, I should wait until she is at least 17. I guess I'll need to wait a few years before I teach mag change drills.
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    I think the argument has some merit -- it's similar to when the military changed the shape of its range targets from bullseyes to human silhouettes and found that infantrymen were thus more likely to fire their weapons during combat. Madden 09 might not make someone a better individual football player, but an accurate simulation of the sport (whether Madden provides it or not) will at the minimum expose the player to the sport's fundamental dynamics. Isn't that the whole aim of the military's own simulations? I'm not particularly convinced that the normative arguments are relevant. Whether the supposed consequences of America's Army are true, I can't say, though I think that should be the central component of the discussion.
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    Army teaching kids to be killers?
    Unfortunately schoolchildren in our nation do not need instructions on killing, for they have already demonstrated their proficiency at it:

    Lynnville, Tennessee (1995), Moses Lake, Washington (1996), Bethel, Alaska (1997), Pearl, Mississippi (1997), West Paducah, Kentucky (1997), Jonesboro, Arkansas (1998), Edinboro, Pennsylvania (1998), Springfield, Oregon (1998), Littleton, Colorado (1999), Mount Morris Township, Michigan (2000).

    That is 40 people killed in schoolhouse shootings over the course of five years. Probably more people were killed by schoolchildren, then were killed by most US Army infantry divisions in that 1995-2000 time frame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    Madden 09 might not make someone a better individual football player, but an accurate simulation of the sport (whether Madden provides it or not) will at the minimum expose the player to the sport's fundamental dynamics. Isn't that the whole aim of the military's own simulations?
    I think that you phrased that well: "an accurate simulation" and whether it "provides it or not." That is a shortcoming that journalists are poorly positioned to evaluate because of their striking unfamiliarity with the military. When I was still a platoon leader, the Army starting dumping a lot of money into computer simulations that were fielded for routine use by squads and teams. These were giant screens that entire squads could fire at, using a variety of weapons that had been modified for use in the simulator. In my opinion (and in the opinion of my BDE CSM who had nearly two decades in the SOF world), it was a collosal waste of time and money. It was a good, sincere effort to provide a more cost effective and less administratively burdensome means to get Soldiers behind weapons and let team leaders and squad leaders train their men and practice fire control measures. It was significantly more "realistic" than the simulation in that video, but it was not realistic enough in terms of the feel and response of the weapons, the environmental simulation, the mental stress and confusion, or variables that occur outside of the 60 degree angle that the screen focuses you on, in front of you. It was a deceptively bad waste of time and money; ineffective for individual and collective training of any kind. If anything, it was counterproductive. It was a method of unlearning good habits. I cannot say enough bad things about it and if I were more eloquent then I could better explain those shortcomings.

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    I think the argument has some merit -- it's similar to when the military changed the shape of its range targets from bullseyes to human silhouettes and found that infantrymen were thus more likely to fire their weapons during combat.
    I think there are too many variables to say with any significant degree of certainty that there was a causal relationship. An all-volunteer force, a reduction in drug use and other major discipline problems, and better training, in my opinion, have more to do with the likeliness of firing weapons than the design of our targetry. I know that Grossman et al have lots of data and theories to back up their assertions. So did the investment bankers. It just doesn't compute after spending a few years in combat with teens and early twentysomethings who, on a daily basis, were switching back and forth between dispensing scunion and dispensing candy, as the situation dictated. These guys are much smarter than Grossman et al give them credit for.

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Schmedlap,

    I haven't played America's Army and I haven't seen combat, so I'm not in a position to judge the utility of the game as far as the cited articles are concerned. I would say, however, that in my passion, NHL 09 does accurately simulate the fundamental dynamics of the One True Sport. :-)

    Where the articles might say "kids into killers", I would rather say "sons into Soldiers" or something to that effect. I'm sure everyone here is aware of the normative mumbo-jumbo tossed around about the game and so really it comes down to (1) the effects of the game, and (2) the Army's intentions relative to those effects.
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    I would say that without an extensive reading of the literature revolving around video games and their laerning / psych effects, most folks (and journalists, especially) should refrain from trying to draw causal relationships when evidence is sketchy - at best - whether or not they exist.

    And just to go ahead and get the background questions out of the way: 4 years active, 10 ARNG, Master's in Journalism, working on my doctoral in Communication examining the differences between digital (ie, video games) and non-digital (ie, classroom) training, specifically within a military environment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
    That is 40 people killed in schoolhouse shootings over the course of five years. Probably more people were killed by schoolchildren, then were killed by most US Army infantry divisions in that 1995-2000 time frame.

    Not a really good metric as 40 kids out of 53 million k-12 age kids (2005) is really small percentage (doesn't even make an alpha of .05 for statistical significance). The death rate though is much higher due to murder, gang related, drug related, familial violence, etc.. Various studies suggest around 100 kids a year are abducted and killed by adults. Of course depending on who you believe 50,000+ kids are abducted (but not necessarily killed) by non-family members a year (though I'm skeptical).

    One common tactic is to re-frame the violence as done in Chicago this year as school children shot and killed (woe the violence panic!) never mind that most of the kids had been kicked out of school with the rarity being the unaffiliated child being shot on "accident".

    The entire point being that after much study the rampage violence at school problem is an outlier, and has little to do with science of any kinds. In "Rampage: The social roots of school shootings" by Katherine Newman there is a detailed study of several school shootings and how they occurred.

    Quote Originally Posted by BayonetBrant View Post
    I would say that without an extensive reading of the literature revolving around video games and their laerning / psych effects, most folks (and journalists, especially) should refrain from trying to draw causal relationships when evidence is sketchy - at best - whether or not they exist.

    And just to go ahead and get the background questions out of the way: 4 years active, 10 ARNG, Master's in Journalism, working on my doctoral in Communication examining the differences between digital (ie, video games) and non-digital (ie, classroom) training, specifically within a military environment.

    I've been very interested in the brain mapping that has been done with people showing that the mind can NOT differentiate between perceived violence and real violence and that cognitively they are equivalent. I've been very skeptical of such results as they seem to be very political rather than scientific in nature.

    Various authors as ethnographers have looked at societal violence and the percieved causations. Elijah Anderson in "Code of the Street" discussed extensively the specific factors leading to violence. Games had little to do with it. The primary cause was an expectation supported by rudimentary analysis by participants to engage in violence. In other words they are violent because they are expected to be violent and they are actors. Sure that looks like somebody trying to let them off, but that takes it way to far. It is no less true than when you put two armies on a field of battle you can pretty much be sure there will be a war. Expectation leads to action.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I think that you phrased that well: "an accurate simulation" and whether it "provides it or not." That is a shortcoming that journalists are poorly positioned to evaluate because of their striking unfamiliarity with the military. When I was still a platoon leader, the Army starting dumping a lot of money into computer simulations that were fielded for routine use by squads and teams. These were giant screens that entire squads could fire at, using a variety of weapons that had been modified for use in the simulator. In my opinion (and in the opinion of my BDE CSM who had nearly two decades in the SOF world), it was a collosal waste of time and money. It was a good, sincere effort to provide a more cost effective and less administratively burdensome means to get Soldiers behind weapons and let team leaders and squad leaders train their men and practice fire control measures. It was significantly more "realistic" than the simulation in that video, but it was not realistic enough in terms of the feel and response of the weapons, the environmental simulation, the mental stress and confusion, or variables that occur outside of the 60 degree angle that the screen focuses you on, in front of you. It was a deceptively bad waste of time and money; ineffective for individual and collective training of any kind. If anything, it was counterproductive. It was a method of unlearning good habits. I cannot say enough bad things about it and if I were more eloquent then I could better explain those shortcomings.



    I think there are too many variables to say with any significant degree of certainty that there was a causal relationship. An all-volunteer force, a reduction in drug use and other major discipline problems, and better training, in my opinion, have more to do with the likeliness of firing weapons than the design of our targetry. I know that Grossman et al have lots of data and theories to back up their assertions. So did the investment bankers. It just doesn't compute after spending a few years in combat with teens and early twentysomethings who, on a daily basis, were switching back and forth between dispensing scunion and dispensing candy, as the situation dictated. These guys are much smarter than Grossman et al give them credit for.
    Huh. I kind of liked the EST 2000. And felt it went a long way toward allowing soldiers to expend a large amount of photons to train on something more than 40 rounds a year on a KD or pop-up range. Personally, I'd train on the EST every day for an hour, if I could.

    I bought an air pistol and air rifle for my office and home, just to stay fresh on fundamentals.

    As far as children having to learn how to kill is concerned, the concept that violence is somehow foreign to children is wrong; for most kids, it's teaching them NOT to use violence that requires work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    As far as children having to learn how to kill is concerned, the concept that violence is somehow foreign to children is wrong; for most kids, it's teaching them NOT to use violence that requires work.
    Ain't that the truth! My 3yo bops his sister on the head several times a week.

    On the original CNN piece, I don't see how anyone could believe that 10 minutes of a simulation at the county fair could ever conceivably turn kids intoo "killers" or have much behavioral effect. Heck, I'm still waiting for all that Black Sabbath I listened to as a youngster to turn me into either a homicidal psychotic or a satanist or both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Heck, I'm still waiting for all that Black Sabbath I listened to as a youngster to turn me into either a homicidal psychotic or a satanist or both.
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    Default This is your brain on war

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    Combat in years to come, according to the report, will be dramatically influenced by breakthroughs in neuroscience that can be adapted for defense purposes. These developments might involve improving a soldier’s ability to process information with chemicals that alter brain chemistry or computer hardware that interfaces directly with the brain. “There’s the potential to not only bring someone up to a certain level of function, but actually enhance their function, make them smarter or faster than they would be otherwise...
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    Huh. I kind of liked the EST 2000. And felt it went a long way toward allowing soldiers to expend a large amount of photons to train on something more than 40 rounds a year on a KD or pop-up range.
    That would be a less objectionable situation. If this were fielded to the depot-level mess kit repair folks, then it would probably be a less expensive way for them to meet their administrative requirement of going to the range once or twice per year. But for us it was a replacement for some of our legitimate range time and an added PMI requirement. It helped to reinforce bad habits and dull existing skills.

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    “There’s the potential to not only bring someone up to a certain level of function, but actually enhance their function, make them smarter or faster than they would be otherwise...
    ...and we would want to do this because?? Seems to me, that Armies and Armed forces in general nearly always opt for the least smart option! - which in this case would be to make themselves smarter.... than they would be otherwise....

    ...and that's defined as a "certain level of functioning."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    That would be a less objectionable situation. If this were fielded to the depot-level mess kit repair folks, then it would probably be a less expensive way for them to meet their administrative requirement of going to the range once or twice per year. But for us it was a replacement for some of our legitimate range time and an added PMI requirement. It helped to reinforce bad habits and dull existing skills.
    I have to agree with that, then.

    For the rear echelon folks, its awesome training. For those who are already expert, it presents certain opportunities, provided they are self-aware enough to figure "workarounds" to avoid the obvious bad habits you can develop. (As in, it is an "in addition to your range time, not as a replacement for range time.")

    But for the guy who is a "P" warfighter, or a low "T", I see how it can be counter productive. Especially if it is used as an excuse to save money on real range time.

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