Saturday, August 28, 2010

Soldiers Are Much More Effective Killers and Killing Without Accountability

Despite Hollywood's depiction of war, most men will avoid killing if at all possible. In fact, there is quite a bit of evidence from various wars that most soldiers avoid killing at all costs, even at the risk of being killed themselves according to On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman.

What % of soldiers in combat during WWII, who had a chance to shoot at the enemy, actually shot at the enemy? 15-20%

What % of soldiers in combat during the Vietnam War, who had a chance to shoot at the enemy actually shot at the enemy? 95%

What % of soldiers in combat during today's war(s), who have the chance to shoot at the enemy actually shoot at the enemy? Almost 100%

The ability to increase the firing rate, though, comes with a hidden cost. Severe psychological trauma becomes a distinct possibility when military training overrides safeguards against killing: In a war when 95 percent of soldiers fired their weapons at the enemy, it should come as no surprise that between 18 and 54 percent of the 2.8 million military personnel who served in Vietnam suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder—far higher than in previous wars.
So, why are soldiers better killers today? The simple answer is improved training that enable men to overcome their innate resistance to killing, which in addition to recruiting at an impressionable age, training to hate and dehumanize the enemy, training to obey authority, and bonding soldiers so that they will die for each other,  the biggest factor in increasing the kill rate is conditioning.
"The procedure of precisely rehearsing and mimicking a killing action is an excellent way of ensuring that the individual is capable of performing the act in combat." -- Dave Grossman
Of course, we can't discount technology.  The closer one is to another person, physically and emotionally, the harder it is to kill them, thus the greater the psychological trauma from doing so. Not to worry because remote control killing is easier than ever. Think predator drones.Think  CIA’s covert drone program that includes: U.S. citizens abroad who are terrorism suspects. In fact, it's so easy, the number of targets continues to increase at an alarming rate.

According to an estimate by a Washington think tank, at least a third of those killed in drone attacks in Pakistan are civilians. Add that to the two million rendered homeless in Pakistan due to massive flooding. And now we're going to win more hearts and minds(For every person you kill you win 10 more enemies - Gen. McChrystal ) as President Obama has decided to step up the strikes in Yemen. This year alone, drone flights have increased ten times what they were and missile strikes have increased from one per week to at least one per day.




westpointer,  17:05  

Uh-oh, I posted my comment under the wrong blog post. I'm just posting it correctly. Sorry.

Anyway, If you go back even further, to the civil war, it demonstrates even more how crucial training and conditioning is to making a human being a killer. It's something we're NOT hard-wired to do.

During the civil war, soldiers spent 95% of their time loading their rifles and 5%, shooting. After the battle of Gettysburg, 27,000 rifles were recovered. 24,000 of the rifles (90%) were loaded: 12,000 had more than one bullet loaded. 6,000 had 3-10 bullets loaded. One of the rifles had 23 bullets loaded in the barrel.

So soldiers were loading their rifles, looking like they were doing something but they weren't firing.

This goes to show, since most of the soldiers were not firing their weapons at the enemy or at the very least doing everything they could to avoid shooting the enemy, that they killing another human being was not innate.

The other thing that make me wonder if we're not somehow increasing the number of potential psychopathic killers is the video war games very young children play. That is one of the methods they use when conditioning soldiers. And the younger a child is, the easier it is to condition him that way, where it may become hard-wired.

Very scary stuff.

Roth's stepchild 18:40  

This is all new to me. I thought people were more violent by nature but this information has changed my mind.

It's good news, however it's sad that our society is so consumed with violence and killing that our naturally "non-violent" natures may be transformed.

Like you said...young kids addicted to virtually murdering people. Their brains are still so malleable.

Thanks for the great comment!

Brett,  12:56  

Blame Hollywood. Hollywood's made us all believe human beings are little more than killing machines, equating killing with "cool" and even cooler if the killer is on the right side of the law, often skewed to favor the psychopathic "man" at the top, the people to whom Hollywood caters.

Most film, whether TV shows or at the movies depends on its gratuitous violence to attract those looking for an adrenaline rush, and that violence is almost always injected with humor and a kind of glamor (killers who look like models) that makes the violence seem somehow less violent.

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