SLA Marshall vs. Reality


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Cosmoline
July 31, 2005, 03:06 PM
One source that most antis and even some RKBA advocates have in common is SLA Marshall. His early sociological studies of soldiers in combat has been used to support the premise that the ordinary citizen does not have the "hard heart" needed to kill. I know the military changed some of its basic training to try to instill the "killer instinct" in soldiers. The sources get thrown in my face over and over again by antis to support the notion that ordinariy citizens would not be able to use a firearm in a pinch because they do not have the "killer instinct." Even some on the pro-RKBA side seem to subscribe to the notion that the world is divided into sheep and wolves, and the sheep can't be expected to defend themselves.

I'm very skeptical of Marshall's methodology. As far as I can tell, he simply interviewed soldiers and found out who had fired and how much they shot. He then ASSUMED that those who did not fire did so because they could not muster the will to fire. In reality, of course, they may have simply not gotten a clear shot and not wanted to waste ammunition. I have never seen any research from SLA or anyone else that soldiers WHO HAVE A CLEAN SHOT at an enemy are unable to pull the trigger.

The findings also run counter to the reality I have seen here, where mild-mannered people from all different backgrounds have been able to put slugs in those who are posing an imminent threat. I know a little Korean fellow who put six rounds into a young man pulled a gun and demanded money. Most folks here have heard of the preacher who shot two intruders. There are many other instances.

What I'd like to see is to clear out the SLA Marshall ideology from at least our side of the fence. It is BAD MEDICINE.

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Texian Pistolero
July 31, 2005, 04:58 PM
When I was on active duty in 1974-78 as a U.S. Army infantry officer, SLA Marshall's work was accepted as gospel. Since, it has been widely questioned.

SLA Marshall's work was basically interviews of soldiers in the rear, after they were pulled out of combat. There is some anecdotal evidence that some soldiers felt is was a big joke and gave false or humorous answers. (Like I did with intrusive personal questions in applying for college.)

The fact is that in WWII, a lot of of civilians were hastily thrown into uniform, and existing leadership was spread extremely thin. Somehow, those kids made it happen. The average officer was probably not really qualified. Again, it was muddle through.

Everybody had a learning curve, and highly proficient combat teams emerged, only to be decimated by combat, the cycle repeating until it was over.

Many of the soldiers who ran at Kasserine Pass had been in the Army for only six months. Montgomery, while expressing frustration, noted that the event reminded him of the learning curve of the British Eighth Army.

One reason that SLA Marshall's theory did not apply to Vietnam is that much of fighting was small unit patrolling. You either fought or died, there was no place to run.

The draft system also functioned to select the most aggressive young men.

hillbilly
July 31, 2005, 05:02 PM
John Lott on Guntalk radio today said that the refutation to SLA Marshall can be found in the National Crime Victim Survey statistics, or whatever the survey is called.

Basically, the survey interviews over 100,000 victims of violent crime every year, and the safest response to violent confrontation is to do so armed with a gun.

Look around. You should be able to find the link.

hillbilly

hillbilly
July 31, 2005, 05:03 PM
Found it in about 30 seconds.


http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict.htm

Jeff White
July 31, 2005, 05:10 PM
Marshall is controversial, but for embellishing his WWI combat record. You cite some anecdotal evidence that may seem to disprove his theories, but the other side can also provide anectdotal evidence that proves them. So should we throw the baby out with the bath water because you're worried the antis may use some of the best scientific work on what drives humans to fight each other to further a pacifist agenda?

Would you also discredit John Keegan's work?

The fact is, that many people will not fight, even when confronted with the classic fight or flight situation. Many of them won't even flee, but will stand there dumbfounded while their world disintigrates around them.

Yes there are people, who with no training can rise to the occasion and successfully use deadly force to defend themselves or others. But can they do it every time? Many heros on the battlefield weren't consistant heros, other times they may have been nearly paralyzed by fear. If you read a lot of history you'll find many cases where they will admit there were times they couldn't act.

You have to train your mind to fight and win consistantly. Just like any other skill some people are naturals. But some of the naturals are also sociopaths.

I spent a big part of my military career preparing citizen soldiers to fight and face the realities of the battlefield. Many soldiers, even in Infantry units have trouble actually accepting what it is they really do, when it's time to do it for real. That's where the training and desensitivation comes in. It's one thing to put on all the kewl-guy gear and run through the woods killing the enemy with MILES or to make a fast run through the shoot house with ball ammo, it's something else to do it for real.

The physical skills involved with shooting fast and accurately, or maneuvering your fire team, squad, platoon, etc. are important, but you have to have the right mindset to do it for real.

Since retiring from the Army and going full time into law enforcement, Ive discovered that the it can't happen to me mindset lives there too. From officers who won't wear their body armor because no one has ever been shot on duty around here, to I don't need to shoot regularly, it's been 15 years since an officer in my county ever had to shoot anyone, to that's just Joe Smith over there with the shotgun and he's upset with his wife, I've known him since high school, we can talk this out as he leaves cover to approach good old Joe....

Have you read Grossman's books, On Killing and On Combat? Grossman draws heavily on Marshall, but he also draws from Keegan and others who've studied the issue.

The antis may take these works and try to use them to promote their theories that the public isn't capable of bearing arms. So what. They twist everything to fit their agenda. That doesn't make them right.

Why should we throw out the science that is allowing us to train our professional weapons carriers to be more effective? because someone could use it to promote a political agenda? Isn't that like the medieval church declaring Galelio a heretic?

The work of Marshall, Keegan, Grossman and others has enabled us to create the finest armed professionals the world has ever seen. I don't see us throwing it out because the antis twist it for their own use.

Jeff

hillbilly
July 31, 2005, 05:28 PM
Here's one point Jeff makes.


"Yes there are people, who with no training can rise to the occasion and successfully use deadly force to defend themselves or others. But can they do it every time? Many heros on the battlefield weren't consistant heros, other times they may have been nearly paralyzed by fear. If you read a lot of history you'll find many cases where they will admit there were times they couldn't act."


And yes, I've read Grossman's book, twice.

This is where SLA Marshall and Grossman don't apply to the vast majority of civilian self-defense situations.

Combat killing is not the same as using deadly force in a civilian self-defense situation.

Killing in combat oftentimes means killing enemy soldiers who may be armed, but who aren't in the act of actively trying to kill you at the time you kill them.

Killing in combat often means ambush.

It means killing enemy troops who are sitting down to lunch, or doing their laundry, or sharing a cigarette with their buddies in the shade. It means killing soldiers in their sleep, or while they are repairing an engine, or doing any numbers of activities that don't represent a real immediate threat to your life right then and there.

Killing in combat means all sorts of other things that simply won't apply in 99.99999% of civilian self-defense situations.

Jeff wonders if civilians can "successfully use deadly force to defend themselves or others. But can they do it every time?"

The vast, and I do mean vast majority of civilians will, if they ever have to at all, use deadly force once or twice in their entire lives to defend themselves.

And even out of those civilians who have to rely on the use of deadly force, most of those situations are resolved with either only the scaring off or wounding of the bad guy. All sorts of studies and stats bear those results out.

And sometimes, there is no choice for the civilian but to kill a person who is a direct and immediate threat.

But in no cases of legitimate civilian self-defense will it mean killing somebody unless that person is in the active role of trying to severely injure or kill the victim.

Or in other words, civilians will not, under any legitimate self-defense circumstance, launch suprise offensive raids on sleeping enemies at 0300 hours with the express intent of killing them all in their beds.


Killing the man with the butcher knife who is in your hallway and trying to kill you so he can rape your wife is one thing.

Killing the man who's sound asleep his shelter half is something else.

So no, don't throw SLA Marshall out.

But realize when SLA Marshall's ideas might be valid and where they might not be valid at all.

hillbilly

Texian Pistolero
July 31, 2005, 05:31 PM
Actually, the NRA has been answering the anti's argument for years.

Their repeated mantra has been, "often the MERE PRESENCE of a firearm ends the confrontation", (or similiar words.)

That's not the whole story (and lousy tactics, DANGEROUS to rely on bluff) , but an effective response.

For the record, I believe that the number of true natural warriors is very small. There are not enough of them to get the job done, so you need Plan B.

Elmer
July 31, 2005, 05:33 PM
I'm aware of a number of instances where police officers, even highly trained ones, were killed because they didn't fire when they could have, and should have. I don't think anyone can be sure of how they'll react, until they're faced with the situation. I think Marshall may have been at least partially right.



On the other hand, I prefer not to work on cars anymore, but I don't think they should take your socket set away...... :rolleyes:

NMshooter
July 31, 2005, 06:14 PM
Please keep in mind Marshall was discussing soldiers in battle, not Joe Citizen defending himself from armed robbers.

As a civilian in peacetime you are responsible for each and every round you fire.

As a soldier in wartime you are responsible for accomplishing your mission in accordance with the principle of economy of force.

These are two completely different ways of thinking and doing.

If you are hunting deer in thick brush you are irresponsible for not clearly identifying your potential target as an actual deer, and one you are allowed to shoot.

If you are hunting enemy soldiers in thick brush you might use machine gun fire, grenades, and mortar fire to saturate the general area you spotted movement in.

There are military ways of thinking and doing, and non-military ways of thinking and doing, you use each for some problems but not for all.

Otherwise you end up with things like command economies, five year plans, and "peace in our time".

Brasso
July 31, 2005, 06:31 PM
"I'm aware of a number of instances where police officers, even highly trained ones, were killed because they didn't fire when they could have, and should have. I don't think anyone can be sure of how they'll react, until they're faced with the situation. I think Marshall may have been at least partially right."


For the most part, soldiers don't have to worry about being sued if they shoot someone for pulling a cellphone out of their pocket and pointing it at you. An officer I know had a grand jury called over a shooting he was involved in. He wasn't indicted, but one of the jurers actually asked why he didn't shoot the gun out of the other persons hands instead of killing them. :rolleyes: That kind of thing doesn't exactly give one a confidence boost.

Jeff White
July 31, 2005, 06:35 PM
Hillbilly,
No where in my post did I suggest that civilians were unable to react when faced with a deadly force encounter. And nowhere in my post would you find even the suggestion that we should have any kind of training standard as a prerequisite for the legal ability to bear arms.

I am merely saying that Marshall's work is valid. And I think it's just as valid for the private citizen as it is for the soldier or SWAT officer.

If anyone, soldier, peace officer, private citizen who decides to take personal responsibility for his/her own safety chooses to think they are ready for an armed encounter because they own a firearm, then that is their own business. Those who wish to increase their odds of winning the armed encounter would be well served to study mindset and the dynamics of conflict.

There are plenty of incidents that disprove the anti's claims that guns are only for trained professionals. All one has to do is read The Armed Citizen column in any of the NRA publications or google the web. I disagree with Cosmoline's assertion that we should publically discount Marshall's work because the antis would use it to further their agenda.

Jeff

Vern Humphrey
July 31, 2005, 06:40 PM
Marshall's work has been questioned for two good reasons.

First of all, when an attempt to duplicate it was tried by someone other than Marshall (in Viet Nam), his theories didn't pan out.

Secondly, when taking his claims at face value (that he interviewed in depth some 600 rifle companies) the mass of data that would produce simply didn't exist -- you can calculate the most efficient questionnaire that would yield the results he claimed, and the mass of paper would have required shipping records -- and there are none.

And, in those pre-computer days, we cannot find anyone who helped tabulate all his "data."

In other areas -- not just his WWI record, Marshall has been found to embellish the record. It appears to be his standard method of operation, not a one-time slip.

JohnKSa
July 31, 2005, 06:54 PM
Ok, I thought that SLA Marshall's work had been thoroughly and authoritatively debunked some time ago... Something along the lines of Marshall's conclusions being based on interviews that weren't performed in some cases, couldn't have been performed in others and that were very poorly documented in all cases. Also, isn't it true that when he died, his papers were found to contain very little evidence of extensive interviews to support his claims.

I'll see if I can find some references, can't remember them at the moment.

Hkmp5sd
July 31, 2005, 07:01 PM
In his autobiography, About Face, David Hackworth tells of escorting Marshall to Vietnam and assisting in his interviews. Hackworth did not speak highly of Marshall and comments he didn't even try to do any valid research, but was intent only in getting enough info to generate another book solely for monetary gain.

Vern Humphrey
July 31, 2005, 07:13 PM
David Hackworth and SLA Marshall -- THERE'S a marriage made in Heaven! ;)

Jeff White
July 31, 2005, 07:18 PM
Vern,
Who tried to duplicate Marshall's work in Vietnam? I am unaware of any published works that discredited his WWII and Korean work. The Army changed a lot of training methodolgies in the '50s based on Marshall's WWII and Korean work. The Army that you and I served in was in a large part molded my Marshall's Men Against Fire.

I have no idea if the methodology was up to today's standards. But we can't argue with the results.

As for his time in Vietnam, most of his work there was published commercially and by the US Army Center for Military History. I don't think his mission was to conduct research as he did in WWII and Korea, but to write history. I am pretty sure that the commercial publishing deal was cut with CMH before the trip was made.

I don't think anyone has accused Marshall of just making up his data.

Jeff

NMshooter
July 31, 2005, 07:23 PM
:neener:

I was wondering who was going to make a comment like that.

(edit: in response to Mr. Humphrey's comment above)

Even if I might question his numbers I think there is some truth to some of what Marshall had to say.

I do know he was responsible for some changes in how the Army trains troops, and the squad structure he recommended in Korea is what we use now. He had some valid things to say about a number of subjects.

I find myself caught somewhere in the middle.

Vern Humphrey
July 31, 2005, 07:38 PM
Vern,
Who tried to duplicate Marshall's work in Vietnam?

The actual study design and number-crunching was done by HumRRO, the Army's in-house study organization. As a company commander, I can recall filling out questionnaries for them.

I was brought up on Marshall's work, and like the rest of the Army thought it was the Fifth Gospel. As a company commander I was astonished that I DIDN'T see the things Marshall saw, and that my problems were completely different from the ones he predicted.

It took a long time for it to sink in that Marshall's work shouldn't be used to shape our training and tactics -- for years after the war was over, there were people who still believed in Marshall.

JohnKSa
July 31, 2005, 07:54 PM
I don't think anyone has accused Marshall of just making up his data.Actually that's pretty much what I recall. Maybe not all of it, but certainly a good bit of it--maybe even the majority of it. If you do a web search on "SLA Marshall" and 'debunked' you'll get some pretty interesting reading. I'll see if I can get the name of the book I was thinking of.

GLOCK19XDSC
July 31, 2005, 07:55 PM
Grossman cited Marshall's work in both "On Killing" and in "On Combat," AS WELL AS observations made during the Civil War and throughout history. Bear in mind that military training leading up to Vietnam was shaped, in part, as a result of work done by Marshall, and that the Vietnam experience MAY (note, MAY) have resulted from training that was modified due to that work.

Rebar
July 31, 2005, 07:57 PM
S.L.A. Marshall's invention of the "ratio of fire" was the greatest hoax in military history. Unfortunately, it is all too representative of Marshall's work rather than being an isolated lapse.
http://www.warchronicle.com/us/combat_historians_wwii/marshallproblem.htm
"Marshall's ratio of fire...appears to have been an invention."
http://www.warchronicle.com/us/combat_historians_wwii/marshallfire.htm

I found it hard to credit when I first read Marshall that, even under life or death situations, only one in four men used their weapons. Just looking at combat footage from WWII, where the men didn't know they were being filmed, you can see almost everyone firing. After reading the above sites, I'm not in the least surprised that he basically made it up.

JohnKSa
July 31, 2005, 08:03 PM
http://pages.slc.edu/~fsmoler/grossman.html
"As it happens, Marshall proved nothing of the kind. By the late nineteen eighties Marshall’s statistical argument for his “ratio of fire” had been debunked as a fantastic fraud. I should declare an interest: I was one of the people—by far the least distinguished, and certainly the one who performed the least original research--who discovered this fact."

http://www.warchronicle.com/us/combat_historians_wwii/marshallfire.htm
"John Westover, usually in attendance during Marshall's sessions with the troops, does not recall Marshall's ever asking this question. Nor does Westover recall Marshall ever talking about ratios of weapons usage in their many private conversations. Marshall's own personal correspondence leaves no hint that he was ever collecting statistics. His surviving field notebooks show no signs of statistical compilations that would have been necessary to deduce a ratio as precise as Marshall reported later in Men Against Fire. The "systematic collection of data" that made Marshall's ratio of fire so authoritative appears to have been an invention."

Jeff White
July 31, 2005, 08:48 PM
Vern,
Your company wasn't trained the same way the WWII Infantry was trained. As you stated, you didn't see the same problems Marshall's work led you to expect.

Isn't it possible that the changes in training methodology that Marshall's work brought about fixed many of the problems?

In the early 80s when the light Infantry divisions were created there was another Marshall book that was popular and led to the creation of doctrine. The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a Nation is another slim volume that speaks volumes.

It hardly matters if Marshall kept good notes or used methodology that no researcher would find acceptable in todays world, when the results were so striking.

You can't deny that much of the training methodology we use today were a direct result of Marshall's work. And for all the faults we still have in the way we train, we still produce the finest trained soldier in the world.

So if Marshall was a total fraud in that he made up all of his data, wouldn't the results make him some sort of genius? You really can't argue with the results.

If we decide that Marshall was wrong...what's right? And how would you judge since his work has guided our post WWII training strategies. Should we dust off the 1940 vintage manuals and train a unit that way to compare?

Have we built the post WWII Army on a lie?

Jeff

Cosmoline
July 31, 2005, 09:04 PM
Jeff, I really think you need to look back at Marshall's work. His methodology was about as reliable as a newspaper reporters'. He just say down and interviewed people, using very primitive sociological techniques that were a long, long, long ways from good science. I have also never understood how people can draw this kind of conclusion:

The fact is, that many people will not fight,

...from data which ONLY SUGGESTS that most front line soldiers never got a good shot off at the enemy. The dots don't connect.

There were an average of 20,000 murders PER YEAR in the US during the 1990's. The killers were in some cases sociopaths, but in many cases they had reasons--albeit ones the law does not recognize as valid. Most of these killers had never gone through a boot camp.

Plus, you claim there is antecdotal evidence on the other side--WHERE? Other than Sillywood movies, I don't know any cases where people have been unable to fire in life-or-death situations. When it hits the fan, your killer ape kicks in. It's the reason we've survived as a species for so long and become the most lethal animal in the history of the world. I know nice, religious guys with no military training who have never even gotten into a fist fight who have been able to blow young men away at point blank range when they saw a threat. How do you explain this?

The fact is, that many people will not fight, even when confronted with the classic fight or flight situation. Many of them won't even flee, but will stand there dumbfounded while their world disintigrates around them.

Outside of movies, I've just never seen this IRL. In a crisis, people may be unreasonable and wild-eyed, but they don't just stand around and die. Indeed it takes a lot of training to overcome the fight or flight instinct, not the other way around. The pilots on planes doomed to crash tend to be cool and collected, for example, precisely because their training overrides their instinct to run back and look for a parachute.

Cosmoline
July 31, 2005, 09:10 PM
You can't deny that much of the training methodology we use today were a direct result of Marshall's work. And for all the faults we still have in the way we train, we still produce the finest trained soldier in the world.

This proves none of SLA's points. You'd have to show that our military's "killer heart" training gives our soldiers an edge over untrained insurgents or soldiers from other nations that don't put recruits through the same training. I don't believe anyone has made such a comparison, but judging from the slaughter the completely untrained insurgents in Iraq are doing to our troops and their fellow citizens, I'd say the training isn't really necessary.

Jeff White
July 31, 2005, 09:18 PM
Cosmoline,
What passed for good science in 1944? I don't know, I'm not that old. I do know that right or wrong, many things in Army training methodolgy after Men Against Fire and no one can argue that we don't have a more effective force now then we did in 1944. There are a number of other sociological factors that would figure into this that aren't even being mentioned.

Our force is much more educated now. It's largely drawn from an urban population. The levels of physical fitness are higher even though soldiers may enter the force in worse shape then their 1940s counterpart. We're more physically fit then we were in 1970. The standards that COL Simons used when traianing the force that raided the Son Tay Prison wouldn't be high enough to even pass todays APFT.

All these things will have an effect on the ability of the soldiers to learn.

The antis are going to take anything they can to bolster their indefensible position. I don't think we should throw the entire training methodolgy that evolved from Men Against Fire out, because Marshall's data didn't meet modern standards. There is something right about the metodology that evolved from it or our force wouldn't be more effective then it was, even if we remove the education and physical fitness differences.

I don't believe anyone has made such a comparison, but judging from the slaughter the completely untrained insurgents in Iraq are doing to our troops and their fellow citizens, I'd say the training isn't really necessary.

What slaughter? We're killing the untrained insurgents by the score. Why do you think they are fighting their battles with far ambushes and IEDs? They can't stand against a trained force in a pitched fight. Perhaps we should just close all the training centers as a cost cutting method and just put our new enlistees on the battlefield? :rolleyes:

Surely you don't really believe that the Infantry mission can be carried out by anyone who can point an automatic weapon?

Jeff

JohnKSa
July 31, 2005, 09:25 PM
He may have instituted some good training programs, but it would seem that he did so primarily on the basis of his own opinions, which he defended with what appears to be mostly fictional research.

Cosmoline
July 31, 2005, 09:37 PM
Jeff, I think we can agree that the military's technical training and the training given to front line infantry makes them far more effective in a fire fight. They can remain organized and assess threats quickly even amidst chaos. But what I don't see a need for is the "killer heart" training, including bayonet charging and dehumanization. I would argue that our infantry is better not because they have been made into mindless killing machines, but because they have been taught how to fight better as a unit. In other words, their strength comes from higher brain training not lower brain training. The killer instinct is inherent in all human beings at birth and is always there. Every one of us is a natural born killer. A training program that tries to give these reptile brain functions priority over the higher mind is extremely dangerous and completely unnecessary. As long as soldiers feel they will not face prosecution or other form of sanction for killing, they'll kill as the need arises. That's how all of us function.

Elmer
July 31, 2005, 09:43 PM
primarily on the basis of his own opinions, which he defended with what appears to be mostly fictional research.

It took a long time for it to sink in that Marshall's work shouldn't be used to shape our training and tactics -- for years, there were people who still believed in Marshall.


Ok, I thought that Marshall's work had been thoroughly and authoritatively debunked some time ago... Something along the lines of Marshall's conclusions being based on interviews that weren't performed in some cases, couldn't have been performed in others and that were very poorly documented in all cases


I have to keep re-reading this thread to know which "Marshall" you're talking about.... But I guess if it were the other one, the thread would be under ammunition, or "stopping power"...... ;)

Strange coincidence......

benEzra
July 31, 2005, 09:55 PM
You bring up Grossman. The more I've studied Grossman's work, the more I am convinced that much of what appears reasonable on the surface is actually revealed as BS if you examine more closely. I was an advocate of Grossman's position to start with, but have since changed my mind.

http://www.theppsc.org/Grossman/Main-R.htm

Pilgrim
July 31, 2005, 09:56 PM
"I'm aware of a number of instances where police officers, even highly trained ones, were killed because they didn't fire when they could have, and should have. I don't think anyone can be sure of how they'll react, until they're faced with the situation. I think Marshall may have been at least partially right."
I think it is more a case they were completely surprised, or they were still looking for someone to come and solve their problem and ran out of problem solving time.

Pilgrim

Vern Humphrey
July 31, 2005, 10:02 PM
What passed for good science in 1944?

Well, within a few months, we were able to produce a working atomic bomb -- which is not something you do by making it up as you go. ;)

He may have instituted some good training programs, but it would seem that he did so primarily on the basis of his own opinions, which he defended with what appears to be mostly fictional research.

Marshall didn't institute any training programs. And those programs based on his "research" didn't address the real problems we faced in combat.

Vern Humphrey
July 31, 2005, 10:19 PM
Your company wasn't trained the same way the WWII Infantry was trained. As you stated, you didn't see the same problems Marshall's work led you to expect.

Isn't it possible that the changes in training methodology that Marshall's work brought about fixed many of the problems?

No. The problems that Marshall told us existed do not exist.

In the early 80s when the light Infantry divisions were created there was another Marshall book that was popular and led to the creation of doctrine. The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a Nation is another slim volume that speaks volumes.

It hardly matters if Marshall kept good notes or used methodology that no researcher would find acceptable in todays world, when the results were so striking.

What results are those?

You can't deny that much of the training methodology we use today were a direct result of Marshall's work. And for all the faults we still have in the way we train, we still produce the finest trained soldier in the world.

Sadly, much of Marshall's ideas linger on. But we produce good soldiers in spite of that, not because of that.

So if Marshall was a total fraud in that he made up all of his data, wouldn't the results make him some sort of genius? You really can't argue with the results.

What results? Wasted time and poor tactics?

If we decide that Marshall was wrong...what's right? And how would you judge since his work has guided our post WWII training strategies. Should we dust off the 1940 vintage manuals and train a unit that way to compare?

The current system is criterion-referenced, and includes stiff doses of collective training, where the followers of Marshall put their faith in individual training.

Have we built the post WWII Army on a lie?


To the extent we followed Marshall, we did. Thankfully, his influence is now waning -- if someone doesn't try to revive him.

Jeff White
July 31, 2005, 10:49 PM
Men Against Fire was published in 1946 and was accepted by the Army which at that time was filled with other WWII combat veterans. If the part about the number of soldiers who fired their weapons was so out of line, why wasn't it greeted with such skepticism then? Surely there would have been men who commanded at the company and battalion level who changed the training methodolgy based on Marshall's writings. Why didn't they screem BS?

Vern Humphrey said;

No. The problems that Marshall told us existed do not exist.

But, did they exist in 1944? Neither of us served then. I wasn't even born until 10 years ater Men Against Fire was published. Are you saying that the changes that were made in training after Men Against Fire fire had no effect on the quality of the force?

Your experience in the 1960s and my experience from 1974-2003 can't prove that Marshall was wrong because the soldiers we served with and trained were trained using the methodology that Marshall's work changed. We have no reference to judge from except for history books and the recollections of WWII veterans. We didn't serve in that Army. I entered a somewhat different Army in 1974 then you were in in the 60s. Yet both armies were influenced by Marshall.

What results are those?

All the battlefield successes since 1946. Although we still haven't learned all their is to learn from The Soldiers Load and the Mobility of a Nation, we still overburden our soldiers.

Sadly, much of Marshall's ideas linger on. But we produce good soldiers in spite of that, not because of that.

What would you change?

The current system is criterion-referenced, and includes stiff doses of collective training, where the followers of Marshall put their faith in individual training.

It's not like individual training doesn't exist. Individual training is still the main focus of the NCO corps. I think GEN Starry did a pretty good job of connecting individual and collective training when as TRADOC commander he implemented the Battalion Training Management System around 1980. For the first time we had a program that recognized that units had to be proficient in both individual and collective skills to be effective. BTMS rightfully gave the NCO responsibility for individual training and officers responsibility for collective training. Even though the initial program was unwieldy at first, what with NCOs keeping job books, and officers maintaining Task Lists and Mission Essential Task Lists these tools evolved into the Army Training Management System that exists today. We start deployment workups with the basic individual tasks required to perform the anticipated mission then work our way up from squad to platoon and company training at local training areas and brigade and division rotations at the combat training centers.

To the extent we followed Marshall, we did. Thankfully, his influence is now waning -- if someone doesn't try to revive him.

I don't see his influence waning. I did retire in November of 2003, but I still keep in contact with some people. It's my understanding that it was Marshall's influence that led to the development of Trainfire Ranges, would you go back to Bullseye shooting?

Jeff

jaysouth
August 1, 2005, 12:00 AM
I have talked to WWII vets who thought SLAM was the most godawful liar.

All the infantry vets that I talked to agreed that the biggest problem facing a platoon or company commander was fire discipline. That it, getting their troops to quit shooting when no more shooting was needed.

The first open questioning of Marshalls theory that only a handful of troops will fire their weapons came from an FBI agent who was an infantry company commander in WWII. His personal experience was at odds with marshall's findings. The CO's biggenst prolem was 'fire discipline'. Getting his troops to quit wasting ammo. His views were reinforced by discussion with other former commanders. He then began an investigation of marshall and exposed his fake WWI record, from there on it became fashionable to debunk SLAM.

On a personal level, I was in a unit in vietnam that SLAM followed around. His notes on our action and campaigns became his book, Battles in the Monsoon. His notes must have gotten smudged in the rain, because he got a lot of 'facts' just flat wrong.

He also got involved in some issues the should have stayed out of. After interviewing a young soldier after a very fierce fight, he told the Division Commander that this young man deserved a MOH. The Division commander ordered our battalion commander to write this man up for a Medal of Honor. the citation was duly written up based upon testimony from those in the fight. The testimony of the men who fought this battle were opposite of what SLAM wrote up. The citation acknowledged that this young man was indeed brave and fought well but did not elevate his actions to the level of a MOH. The citation wound up being written up by a staff officer at division and presented to the Battalion commander for signature.

At our reunions we do not ever mention the name of the CG or the man who subsequently got a Medal of honor he did not deserve. We have forgiven the battalion commander who violated his sacred oath to sign that citation. He was such a good commander that his loss of command would have been a greater evil that lying under oath.

If in fact, TrainFire was invented by mashall, it began the demise of marksmanship training in the army. The USMC never got away from marksmanship training that starts with shooting at round targets at known distances. When they become proficient at KD, they move on to more realistic training. The army, however, moved straigth to trainfire without teaching basic marksmanship.

Texian Pistolero
August 1, 2005, 12:23 AM
Not that this is a definitive response,

But the fact is that,

In his autobiography,

"War As I Knew It",

General George S. Patton, JR,

expressed the opinion that he wished that the Garand-firing infantry soldiers,

Had capped off a lot more rounds than they did.

hillbilly
August 1, 2005, 08:27 AM
jaysouth wrote:

"If in fact, TrainFire was invented by mashall, it began the demise of marksmanship training in the army. The USMC never got away from marksmanship training that starts with shooting at round targets at known distances. When they become proficient at KD, they move on to more realistic training. The army, however, moved straigth to trainfire without teaching basic marksmanship."



Combine Jaysouth's statement with the two links below, and, um, well........uh......go see for yourselves.


http://www.odcmp.org/0505/?page=SDM


http://www.michrpa.com/PDFS/2005%20SDM_MRPA.pdf


And yes, I've volunteered to serve as an instructor. Don't know if I've been accepted as such, but I've sent in the application.

hillbilly

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 08:42 AM
Men Against Fire was published in 1946 and was accepted by the Army which at that time was filled with other WWII combat veterans. If the part about the number of soldiers who fired their weapons was so out of line, why wasn't it greeted with such skepticism then?

"Men Against Fire" wasn't "accepted by the Army." The Army has no mechanism to "accept" books and articles. Some people in the Army training establishment used the ideas, but that isn't "acceptance." Then, as now, most training programs are written by people awaiting attendance at schools, platform instructors and so on -- who are chosen for their availablilty, not their expertise.

But, did they exist in 1944? Neither of us served then.

As has been pointed out, actual combat footage shows men shooting. Accounts by other arthors, such as Richard Tregasis, make it plain that most men in combat DID fire.

All the battlefield successes since 1946.

That would be true IF battles were won by individuals. They aren't -- they're won by units. In examining unit performance, you can see again and again where Marshall's influence was a detriment to success.

Bartholomew Roberts
August 1, 2005, 09:40 AM
I think Marshall's basic premise was correct and that the problem comes from people broadly applying it. Even if we discredit everything Marshall ever wrote, there are still ample other sources that would lead you to the same conclusion.

Just to use one example, we can look at the relatively small number of pilots who accounted for the majority of kills in air-air combat. The same lopsided ratio also showed itself in tank crews.

As for the argument that people are incapable of pulling the trigger, that isn't what Marshall said and I think Grossman does a good job of explaining what we all know - different circumstances lead to different results. Grossman has a formula for what he calls "target attractiveness" that he uses to predict how likely someone might be to fire in a given circumstance.

As common sense would have it, the degree that the specific target presents an immediate threat to one's life is a big influence on that. I've seen a lot of antis use Grossman and Marshall to make an argument that the average person is incapable of self-defense. This is simply not true and is nothing more than a bad understanding of the arguments these two men put forth.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 09:48 AM
I think Marshall's basic premise was correct and that the problem comes from people broadly applying it. Even if we discredit everything Marshall ever wrote, there are still ample other sources that would lead you to the same conclusion.

Just to use one example, we can look at the relatively small number of pilots who accounted for the majority of kills in air-air combat. The same lopsided ratio also showed itself in tank crews.


Marshall's premise was wrong.

Even if you take what you have offered, a closer look shows it isn't a vindication of Marshall's theory. Successful aces and super aces are physically superion in key ways -- for example, they fall into the 99.999 percentile in vision acuity. They also have long careers compared to other fliers, with time to improve.

Tank engagements are generally dictated by deployment. A well-placed tank will get many targets, other tanks will not get so many chances.

richyoung
August 1, 2005, 10:04 AM
What passed for good science in 1944? I don't know, I'm not that old. I do know that right or wrong, many things in Army training methodolgy after Men Against Fire and no one can argue that we don't have a more effective force now then we did in 1944.

Correlation does not equalcausation. The force might have been even MORE effective had not Marshall's bogus claims influenced training methods and equipment selection decisions.

There are a number of other sociological factors that would figure into this that aren't even being mentioned.

You ain't just whistling Dixie...

Our force is much more educated now. It's largely drawn from an urban population. The levels of physical fitness are higher even though soldiers may enter the force in worse shape then their 1940s counterpart. We're more physically fit then we were in 1970. The standards that COL Simons used when traianing the force that raided the Son Tay Prison wouldn't be high enough to even pass todays APFT.

We have a "parade ground" army that looks good, and we throw out trained soldiers NOT based on an inability to fight or to do their combat missions, but due to failure to make an arbitrary tape/weoght standard, or to run two miles in the alloted time. The "cult of running" has long taken over the military, in part because some senior officers were heavily into it, and in part because it requires little in the way of expensive equipment. Rather than PT tailored toenhace the soldier's ability to perform his job, such as humping shells or breaking track, we do running, situps, pushups, etc - simply because its easy to measure, and requires no expensive gear.



All these things will have an effect on the ability of the soldiers to learn.

...and NONE of them die to SLAM...

The antis are going to take anything they can to bolster their indefensible position. I don't think we should throw the entire training methodolgy that evolved from Men Against Fire out, because Marshall's data didn't meet modern standards. There is something right about the metodology that evolved from it or our force wouldn't be more effective then it was, even if we remove the education and physical fitness differences.


Correlation and causation again - they are NOT the same!

Quote:
I don't believe anyone has made such a comparison, but judging from the slaughter the completely untrained insurgents in Iraq are doing to our troops and their fellow citizens, I'd say the training isn't really necessary.



What slaughter? We're killing the untrained insurgents by the score. Why do you think they are fighting their battles with far ambushes and IEDs? They can't stand against a trained force in a pitched fight. Perhaps we should just close all the training centers as a cost cutting method and just put our new enlistees on the battlefield?

Surely you don't really believe that the Infantry mission can be carried out by anyone who can point an automatic weapon?

For the bulk of the world, including almost all of the third world, that is indeed the criteria - and they seem to have NO PROBLEM with killing.

richyoung
August 1, 2005, 10:14 AM
Just to use one example, we can look at the relatively small number of pilots who accounted for the majority of kills in air-air combat. The same lopsided ratio also showed itself in tank crews.

In any type of combat, you have "killers, fillers, and victims" - not because of any "unwillingness to shoot", which is even LESS prevalent when shooting at a tank or airplane, but rather due to experience, vision, coordination, etc. Should one survive long enough, one's odds of graduating to "filler" or "killer" status improve.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 10:27 AM
In any type of combat, you have "killers, fillers, and victims" - not because of any "unwillingness to shoot", which is even LESS prevalent when shooting at a tank or airplane, but rather due to experience, vision, coordination, etc. Should one survive long enough, one's odds of graduating to "filler" or "killer" status improve.


Very true -- and it points up some of the damage Marshall did.

Soldiers fight as members of a unit. If you look at a combat-experienced unit, you see there are three groups in each unit. There are the "Old Timers" who are closely banded together, who cooperate with virtually no need for communication, and who look out for each other. Then there are the "Youngsters" who have been around a while. They are starting to form a clique like the "Old Timers" and sometimes the "Old Timers" will mentor them.

Then there are the "F*cking New Guys"who are shunned and who have a fairly low life expectancy if the unit sees heavy combat in their first month or two.

None of that is part of Marshall's observations, though. So in Viet Nam, we had things like the Screaming Eagle Replacement Training School (SERTS.) There, scared newbies were terrorized by "combat veterans" (who were the NCOs the combat units wanted to get rid of) and spent a miserable two weeks before being sent to their units. Once in the unit, they got no special training or consideration ("They got all that sh*t in SERTS.") This made assimilation into the unit more difficult, and resulted in more casualties among newbies.

The British, not being cursed with Marshall's nonsense, had a different policy. They trained newbies in England in units affiliated with the regiments they were to join in combat, sent them to the unit in packets, and stood units down after receiving a packet to allow time for training and integration of the new troops.

another okie
August 1, 2005, 10:29 AM
Marshall was a journalist and an advocate, not a social scientist. His point was that men in combat fight for one another, not for some abstract cause or for the flag, and that training should encourage and use that. That idea has changed training and tactics.

It may seem obvious today that men fight for their buddies, but it wasn't obvious in 1939 or 1945. That is fate of many new ideas - fifty years later people say "everyone knows that."

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 10:38 AM
Marshall was a journalist and an advocate, not a social scientist.

And that in itself ought to tell us something -- to defend Marshall we have to use the Dan Rather approach. "The document may be bogus, but what it says is true."


His point was that men in combat fight for one another, not for some abstract cause or for the flag, and that training should encourage and use that. That idea has changed training and tactics.


That men in combat fight for each other was known long before SLA Marshall came along. The Spartans knew it (which is one reason why they encouraged sexual relationships between boys and older men, to make bonds between the seasoned warriors and the unblooded boys.)

Marshall's falacy was that he failed to understand the complexity of unit cohesion. He thought men were interchangeable cogs, and could be bolted into the machine at will. That thinking plagued the US Army for decades. The British knew better, and had a better system as a result.

NMshooter
August 1, 2005, 03:01 PM
In Marshall's Commentary on Infantry Operations and Weapons Usage in Korea Winter of 1950-51 he recommends replacements be trained and assigned in four man teams to fix that problem.

I recommend reading that commentary, I think the information contained has some bearing on this discussion.

Perhaps if the two major sides here could state their positions we might be able to better understand the argument.

If I am intruding where I should not be let me know and I will stop.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 03:10 PM
In Marshall's Commentary on Infantry Operations and Weapons Usage in Korea Winter of 1950-51 he recommends replacements be trained and assigned in four man teams to fix that problem.


Which is dead wrong and reflects a serious failure to understand combat psychology and social dynamics.

The problem ISN'T intgrating the replacements with THEMSELVES, it's intergrating them with the UNIT. Marshall's idea has two bad effects:

1. It leaves the final pre-combat training in the hands of someone OTHER than the unit NCOs and officers. In his model, this training is done outside the unit.

2. It deepens the isolation of the replacements by forming them into their own team, not integrating them with the veterans.

Bartholomew Roberts
August 1, 2005, 03:39 PM
Like I said, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting people are reluctant to fire weapons unless they perceive an immediate threat to their own well-being. If you don't like the example of aces in aerial combat or tank aces, then there are certainly more to draw from in history.

You could look at John Keegan's research where they took period weaponry and drilled in formation using the same manuals from the Napoleonic era and fired at targets the same size and distance as the massed formations in various battles of that era. The results should have been devastating to an enemy formation based on the number of holes in the target and yet the historical record shows casualties were a fraction of what you might expect based on Keegan's research.

You can also look at muskets recovered from Civil War battlefields that had been loaded multiple times but had never been fired.

Grossman did a pretty decent job of examining these and other anecdotal evidence in support of Marshall's theory in "On Killing".

Cosmoline
August 1, 2005, 03:47 PM
I'm afraid I don't put any credence in a man who makes a living by creating his own "science" of "killology" and blames video games for raising a generation of killers.

You can also look at muskets recovered from Civil War battlefields that had been loaded multiple times but had never been fired.

Um, I 'm aware that they've found many LOADED rifles on the battlefields, not that they found many loaded multiple times without being fired. When you have one shot, you want to make it pay off. Sometimes that means the other guys get you before you can fire. Please cite the specific examples of rifles found with ball after ball being loaded and never fired.

You could look at John Keegan's research where they took period weaponry and drilled in formation using the same manuals from the Napoleonic era and fired at targets the same size and distance as the massed formations in various battles of that era.

Yeah, and I could nail a six inch circle at four hundred meters with my old 96/11 Schmidt-Rubin, but that doesn't mean I could hit a MOVING target that was shooting back at me at that range with anywhere near that level of accuracy.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 03:51 PM
Like I said, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting people are reluctant to fire weapons unless they perceive an immediate threat to their own well-being. If you don't like the example of aces in aerial combat or tank aces, then there are certainly more to draw from in history.

Let's draw form the personal experience of men who saw hard combat in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam. Throw in the combat film footage of troops actually in acton.

You could look at John Keegan's research where they took period weaponry and drilled in formation using the same manuals from the Napoleonic era and fired at targets the same size and distance as the massed formations in various battles of that era. The results should have been devastating to an enemy formation based on the number of holes in the target and yet the historical record shows casualties were a fraction of what you might expect based on Keegan's research.

There were three reasons for that -- troops in the Napoleonic wars in general did not aim, and had little knowledge of marksmanship (see below.) Troops in the Napoleonic wars were not paper targets -- they tended to do things to reduce vunerability. And finally, Keegan's experiment was not conducted by men who were themselves under fire.

Keegan, of course, has no combat experience himself.

You can also look at muskets recovered from Civil War battlefields that had been loaded multiple times but had never been fired.


Which shows that even poorly trained men under great stress will TRY to fire.

Now referring to Keegan's experiments, do you suppose failure to prime was limited to percussion arms? Napoleonic troops under fire were probably MORE likely to fluff the reloading sequence, since it was more complicated in their day.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 03:59 PM
Um, I 'm aware that they've found many LOADED rifles on the battlefields, not that they found many loaded multiple times without being fired.

That part is well-documented. It was not uncommon to find abandoned rifle-muskets on Civil War battlefields with multiple charges. In the stress of combat there were men who would load and snap, load and snap, and fail to put a cap on the nipple.

Of course, this also proves these men were TRYING to fire, regardless of the stress they were under.

NMshooter
August 1, 2005, 04:02 PM
In all seriousness how should we be doing things?

I am not trying to defend Marshall, or attack him, just trying to figure out what the right way is.

Any research recommendations would be appreciated.

Remember, I served in the Air Force, not the Army, so I am approaching this from a layman's perspective.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 04:25 PM
In all seriousness how should we be doing things?



1. Train men to shoot. This was the failing of Train Fire -- men shot under "combat conditions" before they mastered the basics (the "combat conditions" weren't very realistic, either.)

2. Train men who have mastered the basics to shoot under combat conditions. We now do a very good job of this, using unit firing, combat theaters, and so on.

(Note -- this is how the Marines did it. They never adopted Train Fire, and were always better shots than the Army.)

3. Manage replacement fill for the convenience of the tactical commanders, not for the personnel managers.

a. Do not keep all units at the same percentage of fill. Allow units to fall BELOW average fill, then pull them off line, fill them with a draft of replacements.

b. Move replacements directly to their combat units -- don't waste time elsewhere.

c. Assign replacements to experienced combat NCOs or senior men. Stress to the old timers that the new guys are their responsibility.

d. Base all training on the unit officers and NCOs, and on the unit's actual missions.

e. Conduct combat operations in a relatively safe area before returning the unit to full combat duties.

4. Stress multi-echelon traning. Don't neglect the NCOs and Officers.

5. Develop leader training to remedy deficiencies that show up in the field and to keep leaders abrest of changing situations, enemy tactics, and so on.

6. Thoroughly analyze enemy actions, and base combat training scenarios on actual enemy actions.

7. Conduct detailed rehearsals before major combat -- at the least, conduct "rock drills" for leaders.

NMshooter
August 1, 2005, 04:38 PM
I thought the Army taught basic rifle marksmanship?

Everything you list makes sense to me, is that the way things are currently done?

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 04:47 PM
I thought the Army taught basic rifle marksmanship?

Just cause we call something Motherhood and apple pie don't mean Mother baked it or there are any apples in it. ;)

In times past, we trained on the Known Distance range. While this ISN'T combat conditions, it has one great advantage -- you can se the effect of each shot. If you hurry out to a pop-up target range, and you haven't mastered the basics, you'll do a lot of missing and never know why.

That was the problem with Train Fire -- without the basics, you can't get better shooting at targets that only tell you "hit" or "miss."

Everything you list makes sense to me, is that the way things are currently done?

We're moving in that direction -- but we haven't fully mastered some of those points.

Jeff White
August 1, 2005, 05:42 PM
Ok Vern, tell me where in any of Marshall's writings he advocated the individual replacement system. Are you going to blame him for the failure of the Commanche attack helicopter program and the ill fated SGT York Air Defense system too.

I think you are somehow tying Marshall's work to all that's wrong or has been wrong with the Army since 1946.

Marshall's work gave us humanoid shaped targets and they evolved into the trainfire range. I never read anything by Marshall that advocated not teaching the basics before shooting pop-up targets. We went to humaniod shaped targets that popped up and then went down after being hit to solve the problem of troops not firing.

I'm quite aware that the Army doesn't adopt books. But you're still skating around the question of why the seasoned combat veterans who were in charge of the Army in 1946 didn't cry BS when Men Against Fire was first published. Don't you think that those men who had commanded companies and battalions in combat of an intensity that we haven't seen since 1952 would have been the first to scream BS? Why didn't they dismiss Men Against Fire out of hand if it goes against what they would have personally experienced. Are you saying that GEN Taylor who was Chief of Staff in the 1950s when many of the changes were made was wrong, and worse that he was a fool?

Just what changes do you credit/blame Marshall's work with giving us? I'd be very interested to see where he recommended the individual replacement program. Can you refer me to the book and page where he advocated that?

Jeff

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 05:52 PM
Ok Vern, tell me where in any of Marshall's writings he advocated the individual replacement system.

I gather you are trying to make a point here, but I'm not sure what it is. Scroll back a few entries, and you can see where someone else pointed out that Marshall advocated 4-man packet replacements (which would be even worse than the individual replacement system.)

Marshall always regarded the individual soldier as a cog in a machine, something other good Armies had since stopped doing.

Marshall never understood small unit dynamics.

Marshall's work gave us humanoid shaped targets and they evolved into the trainfire range. I never read anything by Marshall that advocated not teaching the basics before shooting pop-up targets. We went to humaniod shaped targets that popped up and then went down after being hit to solve the problem of troops not firing.


"Troops not firing" was not the problem.

But not hitting was. The Marshall mentality, if I may call it so, placed the emphasis on shooting, just shooting. We wasted a lot of ammo on poor quality shooting.

But you're still skating around the question of why the seasoned combat veterans who were in charge of the Army in 1946 didn't cry BS when Men Against Fire was first published. Don't you think that those men who had commanded companies and battalions in combat of an intensity that we haven't seen since 1952 would have been the first to scream BS? Why didn't they dismiss Men Against Fire out of hand if it goes against what they would have personally experienced. Are you saying that GEN Taylor who was Chief of Staff in the 1950s when many of the changes were made was wrong, and worse that he was a fool?


Some did scream -- but no one paid attention. They were "old fogies" and "not with it." When you talk about how generals accepted it -- I point out that generals rarely engage in fire fights.

Look at Douglas Haig -- there's a brilliant general who adopted and kept pushing tactics that clearly weren't working. To say "it's good because the generals like it" is to ignore that sometimes the sergeants know better.

Jeff White
August 1, 2005, 06:13 PM
Vern, the point I've been trying to make is that your Army experience as well as mine, in which many of the problems that Marshall identified in his writings never existed for us. I say that it is because certain training methodolgies were adopted to solve those problems...You say the problems never existed. Who's right? I haven't got a clue.

I'm well aware that generals don't engage in firefights, but you can't deny that the Army leadership that looked at Marshall's work and decided that it had some validity was the most combat experienced leadership we've ever had.

I could go through my modest library and start posting excerpts that would show instances of soldiers not firing or freezing in combat, but that would all be anecdotal and wouldn't prove anything to either side.

We're going to have to agree to disagree here. I have seen some validity in what Marshall has written and what Grossman has expounded on in my 30 + years of working in the profession of arms (both in the Army and as a police officer, and in planning and conducting training for both groups).

You obviously didn't see any validity in it in your experience. Although neither of us served in an Army that wasn't influenced by Marshall's work.

Jeff

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 06:21 PM
Vern, the point I've been trying to make is that your Army experience as well as mine, in which many of the problems that Marshall identified in his writings never existed for us. I say that it is because certain training methodolgies were adopted to solve those problems...You say the problems never existed. Who's right? I haven't got a clue.

All the evidence is the problems didn't exist -- Marshall made up his reports out of very little evidence and a lot of imagination. The training we got was bad training, and didn't solve problems.

I'm well aware that generals don't engage in firefights, but you can't deny that the Army leadership that looked at Marshall's work and decided that it had some validity was the most combat experienced leadership we've ever had.

Actually not -- as James Dunnegan points out, a man who served a year in Viet Nam saw more combat than a man who served in WWII. Our generals did not then and do not now do sergeant's business -- they rely on others to find out what's actually going on down there. Marshall seemed plausible, and many people bit.

You obviously didn't see any validity in it in your experience. Although neither of us served in an Army that wasn't influenced by Marshall's work.


I served in the "Army Training Revolution" from the beginning -- we went through the whole thing. And we found that there was a whole lot of nothing behind much of our training.

Cosmoline
August 1, 2005, 07:01 PM
IIRC, Sgt. York commented that while the rest of his unit was also firing during his famous engagement, they were shooting, but were hitting primarily blue sky due to poor marksmanship. He had grown up with rifles and knew how to shoot before boot camp, so it wasn't a problem for him.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 07:17 PM
IIRC, Sgt. York commented that while the rest of his unit was also firing during his famous engagement, they were shooting, but were hitting primarily blue sky due to poor marksmanship.

That, as I say, is the problem -- getting hits. Training aimed at "just get them to shoot" is simply compounding the problem.

Cosmoline
August 1, 2005, 08:11 PM
Isn't Grossman the idiot who included this bit of nonsense in his book:

"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

I'm sorry, but this *IS* the thought process of an anti. This ideology dovetails perfectly into gun control, whether Grossman and his followers want to admit it or not. Because if the sheepdogs are there to protect from the wolves, they are the ones who really need the fangs. The sheep might be allowed some fangs, but really they won't have the will to use them in a pinch. The "wolves" will just take them away.

The reality, of course, is that cops and soldiers are just citizens like the rest of us. Their DNA is no different from ours, and they are no more or less prone to killing than anyone else. They may or may not actually end up having to kill someone, just as we may or may not actually end up having to kill someone.

The real instinct that soldiers need to overcome and control is the instinct to run away, and as was pointed out the factor that has always done this is unit cohesion. Men stay and fight not because they have "the hard heart of a killer" but because they are fighting as a group with men they know would fight and die for them. They fight because they love their brothers with a love that most vets will tell you they have never experienced before or since. It's certainly not some desire for blood that keeps a man in his spot on the line knowing he's probably going to die in the next few minutes. The will to kill is the easy part. We're all born with it hard-wired into our brains. The will that allows many to fight and die as one--THAT is the hard part.

I can tell you that if the need arose I could certainly shoot someone dead to defend myself or others. I have no doubt about it. Killing is easy. Very, very easy. But what I don't have is the willpower or knowledge to face imminent peril with a bunch of other people while fighting as a single unit. That's what cops and soldiers have that ordinary citizens do not.

Poorly trained or poorly motivated troops will high tail it because there is no such cohesion or it breaks down. They see others running and it becomes a race to avoid being the last one left on the field. There's no reason to assume these guys won't kill given the chance. The will to kill simply isn't the problem.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2005, 08:25 PM
Grossman is another snake oil salesman -- there are a lot of them clustering around the Army.

I recall one who brought us the secret to teaching soldiers who couldn't read. He had a cartoon panel with a strip of magnetic tape pasted on it. He stuck it in a slot in a modified tape recorder, and the panel moved past your eyes while a voice read the captions to you.

There was a stunned silence in the room. Finally a little old lady from Mississippi, a Department of the Army Civilian said, "Oh, isn't that useless!" :p

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