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  #1  
Old 10-19-2009, 03:28 PM
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True or false: "Soldiers tend to intentionally fire over the enemy's head, or not to fire at all."

A sidebar in a book I'm currently reading discusses the wartime behavior of soldiers and their reluctance to kill even in life-threatening situations.

This strikes me as pacifist hopeful thinking -- when it comes to "kill or be killed", do people really deliberately aim to miss?

Posting in GQ because this is primarily a factual question, but opinions and anecdotes are welcome as well.

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Originally Posted by Excerpt from "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows", Melanie Joy
Unnatural Born Killers
There is a substantial body of evidence demonstrating humans' seemingly natural aversion to killing. Much of the research in this area has been conducted by the military; analysts have found that soldiers tend to intentionally fire over the enemy's head, or not to fire at all.

Studies of combat activity during the Napoleonic and Civil Wars revealed stirking statistics. Given the ability of the men, their proximity to the enemy, and the capacity of their weapons, the number of enemy soldiers hit should have been well over 50 percent, resulting in a killing rate of hundreds per minute. Instead, however, the hit rate was only one o two per minute. And a similar phenomenon occured during World War I: according to british Lieutenant George Roupell, the only way he could get his men to stop firing into the air was by drawing his sword, walking down the trench, "beating [them] on the backside and ... telling them to fire low".1 World War II fire rates were also remarkably low: historian and US Army Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall rerported that, during battle, the firing rate was a mere 15 to 20 percent; in other words, out of every hundred men engaged in a firefight, only fifteen to twenty actually used their weapons. And in Vietnam, for every enemy soldiers killed, more than fifty thousand bullets were fired.2

What these studies have taught the miltiary is that in order to get soldiers to shoot to kill, to actively participate in violence, the soldiers must be sufficiencly desensitized to the act of killing. In other words, they have to learn not to feel -- and not to ffeel responsible -- for their actions. They must be taught to override their own conscience. yet these studies also demonstrate that even in the face of immediate danger, in situations of extreme violence, most people are averse to killing. In other words, as Marshall concludes, "the vast majority of combatants throughout history, at the moment of truth when they could and should kill the enemy, have found themselves to be 'conscientious objectors'".3

1: Dave Grossman, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in war and Society. New York: Back Bay Books, 1996, 12.
2: Grossman, Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door. New York: Broadway Books, 2005.
3: Grossman, 15.
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  #2  
Old 10-19-2009, 03:36 PM
pan1 pan1 is offline
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Both Marshall's and Grossmans works have been highly criticized by some and extolled by others.

A good answer to this would be nice to see.
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  #3  
Old 10-19-2009, 03:40 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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Nope this is definitely a fact. It was the subject of much research in the defense community after WW2. It lead to a revision of modern infantry training to emphsise "suppressing fire" (where you just fire in the vague direction of the enemy to encourage them not to fire back at you), and instinctively shooting as soon as you see the outline of the time enemy appear (as opposed to previous training which concentrated on shooting at static target in the open).

I've heard it claimed that there has been a commiserate increase in PTSD and like in modern wars as a result of this.
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Old 10-19-2009, 03:44 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
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False with a caveat.

General Marshall did report that the firing rate in World War II was only about 15 percent in his "Men Against Fire". However, later historians have realized that Marshall pretty much made up his figures, and that they couldn't be trusted. See Roger Spiller's "S.L.A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire"

Marshall is, in general, a pretty polarizing figure, and even though his stuff is entertaining, it's not usually good history.
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  #5  
Old 10-19-2009, 04:15 PM
Mk VII Mk VII is online now
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It is a truism that men under stress tended to fire high; Bernard Fergusson, in either Beyond The Chindwin or The Wild Green Earth, writes about the Japanese 'firing high as usual' and speculates as to whether this was due to defective training or a defect in the weapon. General Sir Garnet Wolseley's advice to the troops in the Ashanti campaign was to 'fire low, fire slow, and charge home'. Of course individual marksmanship standards in 19th c. armies tended to be abysmal as they did not get much practice and it tended to be collective firing rather than individual.
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:20 PM
Švejk Švejk is offline
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This phenomenon is described and analysed for WWI by Axelrod (1984) Evolution of Cooperation, New York: Basic Books.

Axelrod's analysis of cooperation under anarchy has been fiercely criticized but still, it does seem to be the case that at some point during WW I, some German and English (IIRC) soldiers, without communicating directly, did manage to create arrangements by which it would be safe to leave the most forward trenches. Or something ... I'm not sure on the details
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:25 PM
Poysyn Poysyn is offline
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I thought that was why they made the switch between practicing on bulls-eye style targets to the figure 8 style (outline of a person) we use now...
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:38 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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Originally Posted by Poysyn View Post
I thought that was why they made the switch between practicing on bulls-eye style targets to the figure 8 style (outline of a person) we use now...
Definitely whether or not the original study holds water (I had no idea it was controversial), it was definitely the basis for changes in infantry training post-WW2.
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  #9  
Old 10-19-2009, 05:57 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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I think it's important to differentiate between draftees and volunteers. WWI and WWII soldiers were mostly draftees with minimal training. It was not like what we have today with an all-volunteer army. There were high levels of panic in new troops. It is likely that element of pacifism or desire against killing was a portion of the result, but it doesn't make sense to chalk most of it up to that.

I don't have access to it now, but I've done research on the difference between green troops and veteran troops in WWII, and the numbers are night and day. Green troops fit the profile of people who die quickly and often don't use their guns at all. Experienced troops do not fall into that category.

I think it's also important to emphasize the fact that there are reasons to shoot other than to hit someone. In modern warfare with air support and artillery, it makes sense to do just enough shooting to keep the enemy contained, then let the big weapons take care of the problem. Even if you're committed to an infantry action, you do a lot of shooting just to make sure the enemy keeps his head down, doesn't charge your position, etc.

What the statistics tell me is not that people are averse to killing, but that they are averse to being killed. They'd rather stay behind cover than shoot. And they'd rather skimp on aiming than shoot well.
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  #10  
Old 10-19-2009, 06:32 PM
UncleBill UncleBill is offline
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Rifle range training did change through the years to try to overcome this issue, from the man-shaped targets to pop-up targets and other immediate response scenarios. My cite is my late father, past Commanding Officer, Weapons Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina (1969 timeframe).
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  #11  
Old 10-19-2009, 06:38 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Why is it that soldiers in the modern era supposedly had difficulty firing at the enemy, but soldiers during the pre-modern era had no problem hacking each other to pieces with swords and axes and bashing each other to death with maces and warhammers?

The "aversion to killing" certainly does NOT seem to be inherent in human nature.
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:48 PM
Chessic Sense Chessic Sense is offline
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I can't say I've ever heard of this being true. I can't think of one example. Now, maybe in WWII, when the troops are just trying to get home to their families alive, maybe the two sides just sorta "faked it" until the battle ended. But in Iraq, where them-killing-you is nowhere near as likely as you-killing-them, I've never heard of someone intentionally missing unless they weren't supposed to be killing the person in the first place (warning shots or whatever).
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  #13  
Old 10-19-2009, 06:49 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
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For one thing, in premodern fighting, in formation fighting, you're standing right face to face with the enemy, and if you don't kill them fast, they're going to kill you. In modern fighting, when you and the enemy both have rifles,, and you're not in a set formation, the safest thing to do is stay under cover and present as small a profile as possible to the people shooting at you and hope they aim at easier targets.

Last edited by Captain Amazing; 10-19-2009 at 06:50 PM..
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  #14  
Old 10-19-2009, 06:50 PM
Askance Askance is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argent Towers
Why is it that soldiers in the modern era supposedly had difficulty firing at the enemy, but soldiers during the pre-modern era had no problem hacking each other to pieces with swords and axes and bashing each other to death with maces and warhammers?

The "aversion to killing" certainly does NOT seem to be inherent in human nature.
My WAG would be that in hand-to-hand combat you are unarguably at dire threat of your life, and your will to live overcomes any reticence to kill. Archers didn't fire at an individual but at enemy formations as a whole. But rifle fire one on one at a distance may seem more like wanton killing than desperate self-defence.

Last edited by Askance; 10-19-2009 at 06:50 PM..
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:51 PM
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This study tends to bear out the proposition that people are not killers by nature, and describes how unit commanders can identify and "nurture" the natural killers in their units.
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  #16  
Old 10-19-2009, 06:51 PM
Fastidiots Fastidiots is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
Why is it that soldiers in the modern era supposedly had difficulty firing at the enemy, but soldiers during the pre-modern era had no problem hacking each other to pieces with swords and axes and bashing each other to death with maces and warhammers?

The "aversion to killing" certainly does NOT seem to be inherent in human nature.
Comparing a period where people slaughtered their own meat and lived in fear of tyrannical monarchies to a period of TV dinners and baseball games may not be an especially effective one.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:40 PM
Voluble Voluble is offline
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Perhaps another factor would be that in WWII many of the guns would kick and so each bullet fired would be progressively higher. It takes some experience to hold a Thompson sub-machine gun in such a way that you are anywhere near your target.

It is also important to note that technology had advanced to where it was possible to shoot large quantities of projectiles. It wasn't like the Revolutionary War where it was important that each shot be used to maximum effect. Suppressing fire with a bunch of muskets would not have worked particularly well. It also seems extremely unlikely that the genesis of the idea of suppressing fire would have been the unwillingness of one man to kill another. It has too many practical benefits for that to have been the case.

Adducing willingness to kill from the number of bullets used would seem to be a more or less hopeless way of going about things.

As to people fighting with swords in previous ages I wonder if the distance doesn't have something to do with it. If I am standing near a guy with an axe the chances are near certain that I will die if I do not strike with intent to kill. With modern weapons the distance is greater. You may increase your chances of surviving by hiding and not exposing yourself or by shooting enough to keep the other guy from aiming properly.

That does nothing to explain how you come into close proximity with the enemy in the first place when all you have are swords and more primitive weapons. It would take a great deal of bravery to rush across a field with only a glorified sharpened stick at your disposal.

WWI and the American Civil War are two conflicts where impromptu truces were declared by the soldiers themselves. I am sure none of this was new behavior.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:44 PM
Voluble Voluble is offline
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It seems several people mentioned the proximity effect for hand to hand combat while I composed my post. In defense of the repetition I am teaching my six year old to play 21 as a means of teaching her to count and it took a while to type... sorry guys!
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:11 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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This comes up when I talk about the Milgram Experiment.

As everybody knows, about 65% of people will complete the experiment by (essentially) shocking the student to death.

What some people might not know is that one of the replications involved real shocks, real puppies, and real death:
Charles Sheridan and Richard King hypothesized that some of Milgram's subjects may have suspected that the victim was faking, so they repeated the experiment with a real victim: a puppy who was given real electric shocks. They found that 20 out of the 26 participants complied to the end. The six that had refused to comply were all male (54% of males were obedient[25]); all 13 of the women obeyed to the end, although many were highly disturbed and some openly wept.[26]

So, why do we have this difference? I theorize that like a zombie movie, all species are genetically hardwired to avoid harming their own species. For example, cannibalism is very rare. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to me that soldiers, if given the opportunity, would try to avoid killing another human being if given the choice.
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  #20  
Old 10-19-2009, 11:23 PM
glowacks glowacks is offline
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Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
Therefore, it makes perfect sense to me that soldiers, if given the opportunity, would try to avoid killing another human being if given the choice.
I took a class in high school (the teacher was quite an eccentric guy) that focused somewhat on the psychology behind warfare; the first few weeks at least were focused on determining when it was appropriate to kill. One of the major results was that it is far more appropriate to kill that which is not human, or if clearly "human", a lesser one. This is the reasoning behind propaganda in which one attempts to demonize and/or de-humanize the enemy: making them more acceptable targets for their soldiers to kill.
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  #21  
Old 10-19-2009, 11:44 PM
Princhester Princhester is offline
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Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
Therefore, it makes perfect sense to me that soldiers, if given the opportunity, would try to avoid killing another human being if given the choice.
There's also the question of motivation and retaliation. I've just been reading Robert Graves' account of his experiences in WWI ("Goodbye to All That"). He mentions that in some areas the German and Allied forces seemed to reach a bit of an unspoken agreement not to try too hard to kill each other on a day to day basis. If there was a major offensive then they would attack/defend obviously, but on a day to day, just-maintaining-the-lines basis, many soldiers couldn't see much benefit in continually trying to pick off guys on the other side. It wasn't going to make a noticeable difference to the overall war effort, and if it motivated revenge, then it was positively detrimental to you.

So if the other side pops up a head, better to fire a shot that he can tell was really just a warning, and hopefully if you accidentally pop you head up, he'll do the same for you.
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  #22  
Old 10-20-2009, 01:04 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
For one thing, in premodern fighting, in formation fighting, you're standing right face to face with the enemy, and if you don't kill them fast, they're going to kill you. In modern fighting, when you and the enemy both have rifles,, and you're not in a set formation, the safest thing to do is stay under cover and present as small a profile as possible to the people shooting at you and hope they aim at easier targets.
Except that modern infantry, if properly trained, does fight in formation, and does strive to end up face to face with the enemy. A firefight isn't just a bunch of guys shooting at each other from behind cover - there are a variety of tactics and maneuvers, all with the same goal: to storm the enemy position and force the enemy to flee, surrender or die.

When a soldier sees his commander or comrades get up and run into enemy fire, he isn't going to hang back (out of shame and peer pressure, if nothing else), and he certainly isn't going to let them die by not shooting.
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  #23  
Old 10-20-2009, 08:39 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
What some people might not know is that one of the replications involved real shocks, real puppies, and real death:[/url]
Cite! And I mean a cite that the animals were actually killed. The link you provided doesn't say any such thing, and I can find no other references on the net suggesting that this was the case. I find it difficult to believe that ethics approval, even in 1972, would allow dogs to be killed by slow electrocution administered by random members of the general public.


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I theorize that like a zombie movie, all species are genetically hardwired to avoid harming their own species. For example, cannibalism is very rare.
WTF do you mean "cannibalism is very rare"? Cannibalism is ubiquitous. Can you name even one pre-agricultural society that wasn't cannibalistic?
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Old 10-20-2009, 08:56 AM
Hakuna Matata Hakuna Matata is offline
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Cite! And I mean a cite that the animals were actually killed. The link you provided doesn't say any such thing, and I can find no other references on the net suggesting that this was the case. I find it difficult to believe that ethics approval, even in 1972, would allow dogs to be killed by slow electrocution administered by random members of the general public.
No puppies were killed from what I can read on this, sounds like they were given three shocks that elicited responses.

http://www.holah.co.uk/files/sheridan_king_1972.pdf
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  #25  
Old 10-20-2009, 09:12 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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I think it's really an issue of psychology. It's more an issue of outmoded training. In the 19th century, guns weren't really all that accurate in battlefield conditions. So you trained soldiers to shoot at the enemy rather than training them to shoot a particular opponent. With one regiment of infantry shooting at another regiment, people would end up getting shot even with relatively random fire.

This practice continued even though rifles became more accurate and it was possible to hit a specific target in a battle. WWII produced a mountain of data and finally convinced generals that it was time for a change. Soldiers in basic began being trained to shoot a target rather than just shoot at a target.
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:16 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Hakuna Matata View Post
No puppies were killed from what I can read on this, sounds like they were given three shocks that elicited responses.

http://www.holah.co.uk/files/sheridan_king_1972.pdf
Is that it? So it's about on par with me taking my pup in to have its course of vaccinations, where the animal also gets three painful stimulations that also elicit a response. As in that case I would have thought that most people would administer the pain knowing it was being done for a greater good.

If that's the case then the result is even less meaningful than the original Milgram experiment. Frankly I'm surprised that so many people refused. It seems to me that this tells us more about human sentimentality and squeamishness than about authority. Even knowing that the minor and temporary pain is necessary for a greater good some people couldn't bring themselves to administer it. I can understand that, but it hardly seems to have any bearing either way on human willingness to follow authority.
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  #27  
Old 10-20-2009, 09:34 AM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
Why is it that soldiers in the modern era supposedly had difficulty firing at the enemy, but soldiers during the pre-modern era had no problem hacking each other to pieces with swords and axes and bashing each other to death with maces and warhammers?

The "aversion to killing" certainly does NOT seem to be inherent in human nature.
I think glowacks shot as close as possible to the answer to this without actually hitting it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by glowacks
This is the reasoning behind propaganda in which one attempts to demonize and/or de-humanize the enemy: making them more acceptable targets for their soldiers to kill.
I submit that the further back you go into the history of warfare, the more you're going to see anger, fear, moral outrage and outright hatred enter the picture. It's pretty easy to see killing someone who clearly "needs killin'." In WWII newspaper headlines using terms like Japs, Nips, etc. would not create a considerable scandal. I've yet to see a front-page announcing the war effort against the Rag-Heads, and I'd be surprised if there were any in the 50s & 60s going on about Gooks or even Charlie. We're still racists on the surface, but I think something's changing that makes it harder to accept in our hearts that our political enemies actually deserve to die. I blame Tolkein.
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Old 10-20-2009, 11:14 AM
davekhps davekhps is offline
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Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
False with a caveat.

General Marshall did report that the firing rate in World War II was only about 15 percent in his "Men Against Fire". However, later historians have realized that Marshall pretty much made up his figures, and that they couldn't be trusted. See Roger Spiller's "S.L.A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire"

Marshall is, in general, a pretty polarizing figure, and even though his stuff is entertaining, it's not usually good history.
Here's a good summation of the anti-Marshall argument from the Army journal Parameters.
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Old 10-20-2009, 05:53 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
Why is it that soldiers in the modern era supposedly had difficulty firing at the enemy, but soldiers during the pre-modern era had no problem hacking each other to pieces with swords and axes and bashing each other to death with maces and warhammers?

The "aversion to killing" certainly does NOT seem to be inherent in human nature.
Actually, soldiers in the pre-modern era had plenty of problem engaging at close combat, particularly impressed or partisan fighters who did not receive training and engage in tightly controlled small unit operations, which is why kill levels were so low. It was only with the advent of 'modern' small unit tactics that close engagements became particularly lethal encounters.

The Greeks, and later the Romans, found that the solution to this was twofold: one, to force soldiers to work in tightly integrated units led from the immediate rear by experienced soldiers (what today would be the non-commissioned officers corps) whose job was to compel the fighters in front to thrust and stab rather than slash and parry; the second, to put highly mobile fighters on the field in cooperative roles, i.e. the two-man chariot with driver and archer. Despite the fact that the chariot is less maneuverable and requires more support than cavalry, it was found to be substantially more effective, in no small part because it was impossible for foot troops to outrun it as they were routed from the field of battle, and the co-support of two or more men working in conjunction tends to overcome the natural inclination not to harm random strangers, hence while a single rifleman may intentionally miss the target or refuse to fire, a machine gunner and loader, or a sniper and spotter has much higher rates of effective fire; both have shared responsibility and neither wants to let down the other. This is an extension of the same kind of group dynamics that makes a person who might be safe from an individual neighbor but who may be at risk to be lynched by a mob.

A rout is generally considered a victory, not just because it allows the victor to take command of the field and any tactically superior ground, but also because most killing is done as the routed opponent turns away to run; in other words, it is much easier for people to kill when they don't have to face their opponent. This is basic inborn behavior, and is true as much in the animal world (where engagements between two contestants of the same species over resources or mating rights are very rarely lethal except in desperate circumstances). We see the same behavior in our closest relatives, chimpanzees. Tribes will rarely attack each other directly, preferring to fling fruit, sticks, and poo at each other, but once a group is forced to retreat it may be aggressively pursued and attacked by the victors who will frequently kill and cannibalize any routees that can't escape. Similarly, anyone who works with dogs knows that the last thing to do with an aggressive dog is to turn your back and run, as it stimulates the predator behavior. The same is true when dealing with other predatory animals including large cats, large mustelids, and ursines. Even the normally reclusive and non-predatory American black bear may be stimulated to attacking a retreating person who has turned their back during egress.

By the way, those of you attempting to apply rationality to the decision process of killing in the heat of combat: stop it. It is well-established, both in empirical studies and by direct observation of neural activity, that when under the kind of stimulation and duress found in combat that the rational cognitive areas of the brain (in the forebrain region, including the speech cortex) effectively shut down, while areas of the more primitive midbrain associated with basic perception and autonomic response become highly stimulated. This means that when you believe yourself to be at risk for grave injury or death, your thinking capability becomes suppressed or detached, and you respond as you have been trained by rote instruction or natural predisposition. This is why modern "instinctive" rifleman training at responsive, realistic-looking targets which is done by all modern armies shows dramatically higher rates of effective aimed fire as compared to armies trained with marksmanship-style target training. Those posters who have been in a life-threatening or combat situation can attest to the various limitations that occur, like not being able to speak coherently or thinking about things that are entirely inappropriate to deal with the threat at hand.

As for research, both S.L.A. Marshall and Dave Grossman have been countered, but not effectively. Most of the criticisms I've seen of Marshall question some of the claims about his career rather than the quality of his research. Field studies of psychological behavior are necessarily somewhat subjective, of course, but Grossman's hypotheses seem to fit both with the casualty numbers and with the experience of many combat veterans. I think Grossman overstates his case at times, but his overall assertion--that most people are not naturally inclined to kill another person at visual or closer range without severe impetus, and usually with significant psychological impact unless reassured by social peers--fits in very well with both accepted combat psychology and my own personal observations of people in life-threatening situations.

Stranger
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  #30  
Old 10-21-2009, 12:42 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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I'm sure that some soldiers do try not to kill; I'm not sure they're the majority, as claimed by S. L. A. Marshall and others.

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Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
Why is it that soldiers in the modern era supposedly had difficulty firing at the enemy, but soldiers during the pre-modern era had no problem hacking each other to pieces with swords and axes and bashing each other to death with maces and warhammers?

The "aversion to killing" certainly does NOT seem to be inherent in human nature.
I don't think it's inherent in human nature so much as cultural. Three issues that bear on your question:

1) Cultural differences in the aversion to killing. Knights were trained their whole lives to glorify the act of fighting (and to have callous disregard for the peasantry). Other cultures had various different approaches, of course, I'm not just singling out European knights. But some warrior cultures inculcated a different social stigma or reward for killing (think of Spartan boys strangling helots). When killing is more acceptable it would flourish, is my guess.

2) Statistics for medieval and ancient battles are notoriously poor. When, as is often the case, you don't know how many fought to within an order of magnitude or how many casualties there really were, it makes it difficult to draw scientific conclusions about whether those willing to hack indeed formed a majority. Despite having very good stats for some battles, it's hard to be confident in extrapolating that universally. In other words, maybe pre-modern soldiers did have problems killing, maybe they didn't. We get the exciting song of the bards, not science.

3) Critical distance. Even in modern wars, face-to-face fighting in buildings, trenches, and confined spaces is notoriously the most savage, specifically because at close range the fight-or-light response switches over to MUST FIGHT very strongly (John Keegan has written of this). Critical distance is more evident when you wield a gladius than when you're a button-pusher on an MLRS.

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Originally Posted by Inigo Montoya View Post
We're still racists on the surface, but I think something's changing that makes it harder to accept in our hearts that our political enemies actually deserve to die. I blame Tolkein.

Can you explain in more detail? Seems to me Tolkien taught us "orcs are always bad and it's okay to make their heads burst asunder."


.

Last edited by Sailboat; 10-21-2009 at 12:44 PM..
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  #31  
Old 10-21-2009, 01:17 PM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Can you explain in more detail? Seems to me Tolkien taught us "orcs are always bad and it's okay to make their heads burst asunder."


.
I think he's referring to Sam's musings on seeing a slain Easterling.
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  #32  
Old 10-22-2009, 12:26 AM
treis treis is offline
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WTF do you mean "cannibalism is very rare"? Cannibalism is ubiquitous. Can you name even one pre-agricultural society that wasn't cannibalistic?
The Comanches
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  #33  
Old 10-22-2009, 12:47 AM
Odesio Odesio is offline
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Originally Posted by treis View Post
The Comanches
Weren't they agriculturalist until the introduction of the horse made buffalo a lot easier for them to hunt?
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  #34  
Old 10-22-2009, 12:48 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treis View Post
The Comanches

1) Comanche's practiced cannibalism.

2) Comanches were nomadic herdsmen, ie agriculturalists.

Would you like to try again?
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  #35  
Old 10-22-2009, 11:01 AM
treis treis is offline
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
If survival cannibalism in extreme circumstances counts as practicing cannibalism then the phrase "practicing cannibalism" becomes meaningless. As your cite notes, the penalty for cannibalism amongst the Comaches was death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake
2) Comanches were nomadic herdsmen, ie agriculturalists.
Cite?
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  #36  
Old 10-22-2009, 11:52 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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But then, doesn't everyone practice cannibalism under extreme circumstances? Why, just last winter...
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  #37  
Old 09-12-2013, 05:17 PM
caliwebman caliwebman is offline
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Things are changing, and fast. As a multi-war combat disabled veteran I am here to share with you that indeed, the powers to live and let live dramatically out weigh the powers to kill. The main reason for this change is the socialty explosion that has come by way of our technologies hence, the more we tend to talk, the softer we get. But it gets even better.

I once was a Warrior. I fought amid the most frigid conditions known in the Cold War. I helped end this war. We won.

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name, but the ops had names like shield & storm. Two decades later a warrior (my nephew) honored the duty of closing our colors in Iraq a year ago (meaning roll up our flag we're done!). I helped start this war. We won.

I am a Warrior. But now, I am a new breed of Warrior. I am a Warrior Monk. A Jedi Warrior Monk.

Because of the fact that 90%+ of new soldiers that enter combat for the first time aim high the message is VERY clear; the love for life, completely outweighs the act of killing life. This being the case I am dedicating my life to helping to create a worldwide shift in our species approach to war.

It is now time for our great military to begin the transformation. The transformation from warriors, to Warrior Monks, in which we shall begin to win wars through the hearts, minds and souls of what once were our enemies, and do this through love.

I need People from all parts to take part in helping assist in the process of this transformational shift (if you are a student, a soldier, teacher or civilian anyone and have an interest in helping out contact me ASAP -caliwebman
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  #38  
Old 09-12-2013, 05:34 PM
Chimera Chimera is offline
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And you needed to join this board this month and then respond to a four year old thread in order to make your pitch?

btw; lots of people have had that idea, the one you claim above. Every. Last. One. Failed.

So Good Luck With That.
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:28 PM
picker picker is online now
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I'm gonna say that resurrecting a zombie thread is not jerk behavior, unlike threadshitting and deliberate rudeness to a new guest.

Shame on you, Chimera, and welcome, caliwebman. Thank you for your service.
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:52 PM
Chimera Chimera is offline
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Resurrecting it and not addressing the actual subject of the thread, on the other hand...

Welcome, caliwebwoman, but seriously, start your own thread (prolly in Great Debates or IMHO) if you want to have that conversation. More people may see it.
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:55 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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It's garbage. The idea comes from Grossman and his horrible research. When he isn't misinterpreting Marshall or reaching for ridiculous conclusions not proven by the data he is making things up completely.

Soldiers firing high in battle doesn't necessarily mean it's because they don't want to kill. When I see soldiers firing high, it is because they are firing without aiming while lying down behind cover. Horrible shooting technique to be sure, but it's not because they don't want to kill. It's because they are trying not to die.

And the stats about not everyone firing in a battle doesn't mean people didn't want to shoot and kill. It can easily mean that people simply could not pinpoint an enemy to shoot at. Can't count how many times my men and I wanted desperately to kill the enemy, yet simply could not fix them long enough or certain enough to get shots off. More time was spent frustratingly observing and frantically searching downrange than actually shooting. That wasn't for lack of a want to kill.

Grossman is the type of person who wants something to be true, so he presents it as the only possible answer to myriad data, quotes and statistics--none of which actually prove his point. I couldn't disagree with his conclusions anymore and I am not the sole critic of his work.
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:05 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caliwebman View Post
Because of the fact that 90%+ of new soldiers that enter combat for the first time aim high the message is VERY clear; the love for life, completely outweighs the act of killing life. This being the case I am dedicating my life to helping to create a worldwide shift in our species approach to war.
Ridiculous. You want to know another reason, (much more plausible by the way) that soldiers often shoot high? When the soldiers zero their weapons at 300m and then engage the enemy in closer combat, especially around the 150m mark, external ballistics being what they are, the rounds are going to be high. Inexperienced shooters, especially those under stress, are not going to properly compensate and will be shooting high. I see it everyday on the range, and that's with a 200m zero so the effect should be less. But it is still enough to miss high.
We have a range called LOMAH (locations of misses and hits) that displays the exact location of the miss on the computer screen. 95% of the time it is because the soldier is firing high! (See Grossman, I can make up stats too. But it really is the vast majority). Soldiers are always having to be told to aim lower!! Or "aim low to score a hit".
And this is a range with plastic targets under no stress. The affect is increase in the stress of combat when targets are shooting back and they are not easy to find!

So be careful when you say that something makes your opinion VERY clear. Because there are so many other factors besides some idea that humans are a peaceful species who loathe violence. 5,000 years of history should help prove that is asinine.
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:15 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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If you're interested in some lengthy rebuttals of Grossman's ideas, here is a great place to start.

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

http://www.theppsc.org/Grossman/SLA_Marshall/Main.htm
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  #44  
Old 09-12-2013, 09:01 PM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
Resurrecting it and not addressing the actual subject of the thread, on the other hand...

Welcome, caliwebwoman, but seriously, start your own thread (prolly in Great Debates or IMHO) if you want to have that conversation. More people may see it.
Likewise. I thought for a minute there that this was some kind of spam, pimping a new site. It may yet be.
Of course, I will follow, blindly, a person who proclaims himself a Jedi Warrior Monk. Who wouldn't. I mean, if we are talking serious life-changing behavior, who better to follow than a Yoda follower?

So, I'm totally with Chimera. Best wishes, caliwebman, but, knock it off, please.

Last edited by handsomeharry; 09-12-2013 at 09:02 PM..
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  #45  
Old 09-12-2013, 09:09 PM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
Resurrecting it and not addressing the actual subject of the thread, on the other hand...

Welcome, caliwebwoman, but seriously, start your own thread (prolly in Great Debates or IMHO) if you want to have that conversation. More people may see it.
Likewise. I thought for a minute there that this was some kind of spam, pimping a new site. It may yet be.
Of course, I will follow, blindly, a person who proclaims himself a Jedi Warrior Monk. Who wouldn't. I mean, if we are talking serious life-changing behavior, who better to follow than a Yoda follower?

So, I'm totally with Chimera. Best wishes, caliwebwoman, but, knock it off, please.
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  #46  
Old 09-13-2013, 01:20 AM
usedtobe usedtobe is offline
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My sole data point is a BiL who did 2 tours in Viet Nam (and, frankly, seems to have gotten a great deal of pleasure in killing).

His story was that the USMC taught to aim, not to kill, but to mortally wound. The wounded enemy would draw 2 of his buddies away from the fight to tend to him, thus tripling your effectiveness.

The other point is the number of bullets fired in that dirty little war:

This was the age of the body count on the 6 o'lclock news: Number of Viet Cong/N. Vietnamese killed, number of S. Vietnamese killed, and the number of Americans killed.

What this came down to was a platoon of soldiers would take a load of ammo (and a load of good dope) into a clear spot, fire pointlessly into the jungle, and get stoned.
When they returned, they would be asked for the number of bad guys they killed. They provided a number.

In 1972, somebody claimed to have added up the reported kills and announced that the war must be over, because we had killed man, woman, and child in both North and South Vietnam.

You pretty much need to discount that war in gathering stats about much more than dollars spent. And you can't get a real number on that - too many black budgets and other concealed expenditures.

Last edited by usedtobe; 09-13-2013 at 01:21 AM..
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Old 09-13-2013, 02:34 AM
Ranger Jeff Ranger Jeff is offline
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I suspect the high shots fired to kills ratio in Viet Nam has a lot to do with that was the first war the US was in where pretty much all of the US forces had selective fire weapons. Lots of guy just left it set on Full and fired at the general direction of the enemy until the magazine was empty. And even with aimed full auto fire, most rounds past the 3rd one will be over the targets' head. That's why on the M-16a2, they replaced the Full option with the 3 round Burst option.

As for the range point made upthread, I can see if you're sighted in at 300m and firing at someone's head at 100m, you'd be shooting high. I used a combat zero of 200yds and aimed for the chest. It seemed to work at closer distances.
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Old 09-13-2013, 03:39 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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My Dad pointed out that when they are trying to kill you, it focuses your mind on staying alive, and you start to actually aim at the people trying to kill you. You end up not being part of the zerg and a target. In a zerg, you can afford to miss, someone else will either kill the opponent or take the bullet, lose the zerg mass and you get really focused on the kill or be killed aspect - think of the marines on Iwo Jima or the zerg that was D-Day at Normandy.

[My dad loved discussing the difference between strategy and tactics as applied to MMORPGs, he liked raids.]
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Old 09-13-2013, 04:02 AM
Melbourne Melbourne is offline
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From "Surprised by Joy", C S Lewis:
'He could never grasp the neighborly principles which, by the tacit agreement of the troops, were held to govern trench warfare, and to which I was introduced at once by my sergeant. I had suggested "pooping" a rifle grenade into a German post where we had seen heads moving. "Just as 'ee like, zir," said the sergeant, scratching his head, "but once 'ee start doing that kind of thing, 'ee'll get zummit back, zee?
"
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Old 09-13-2013, 04:22 AM
glaeken glaeken is offline
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Originally Posted by Švejk View Post
This phenomenon is described and analysed for WWI by Axelrod (1984) Evolution of Cooperation, New York: Basic Books.

Axelrod's analysis of cooperation under anarchy has been fiercely criticized but still, it does seem to be the case that at some point during WW I, some German and English (IIRC) soldiers, without communicating directly, did manage to create arrangements by which it would be safe to leave the most forward trenches. Or something ... I'm not sure on the details
During WW1 it was called Live and let live.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_an...e_(World_War_I)

I have heard some great examples. In one German soldier’s threw a note wrapped around a stone across to the British trenches telling them they would blow a whistle just before firing a motor at their trenches so they had time to take cover. Apparently that type of stuff was common.

British commanders tried to combat live and let live by having units send out regular raiding parties to the German trenches. Even then they started to suspect the reports of the raids were being made up and lots of units were not actually doing any raiding so they then demanded that raids had to bring back small samples of German barbwire to prove that they actually had been to the German trenches. This of course just prompted units to get hold of reels of German barb wire so that they had some readily available to snip off a little bit to accompany each report of a raid.

From what I understand live and let live became less and less common as the war progressed. It seems the more comrades soldiers lost the more they started to develop a real hatred for the enemy. I guess you could say it became personal at that point once the enemy had killed friends.
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