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Author Topic: Firing record of Yanks in World War II
Steve
Happy Holly Days


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Occassionaly I come across the "fact" that in WWII only 20% (I think it is) of American soldiers fired their weapons in battle. This is usually contrasted with the much higher rates in Vietnam or the Gulf War to prove that government propaganda has gotten worse over the decades, or to prove that floride is in our water to make us do the government's bidding.

But I've also hear that the original WWII study was horribly flawed with a very small sample size. I couldn't find anything with a quick google search on this, so I'm wondering if anyone know what the hell I'm talking about. Thanks.

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Eddylizard
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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http://www.killology.com/article_agress&viol.htm

quote:
One major modern revelation in the field of military psychology is the observation that such resistance to killing one's own species is also a key factor in human combat. *Brig. Gen. S. L. A. Marshall first observed this during his work as an official U.S. Army historian in the Pacific and European theaters of operations in World War II. Based on his post-combat interviews, Marshall concluded in his book Men Against Fire (1946, 1978) that only 15 to 20 percent of the individual riflemen in World War II fired their own weapons at an exposed enemy soldier. Key weapons, such as *flame-throwers, were usually fired. Crew-served weapons, such as *machine guns, almost always were fired. And action would increase greatly if a nearby leader demanded that the soldier fire. But when left on their own, the great majority of individual combatants appear to have been unable or unwilling to kill.


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"Ladies and gentlemen, this is what is commonly known as money. It comes in all sizes, colours, and denominations - like people."

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ASL
We Three Blings


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Not that I'm in to chowing people, but you mgiht find this thread of itnerest: Only 15% of WWII soldiers were willing to kill?

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"Dear Lord, please protect this rockethouse and all who dwell within..."

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surfcitydogdad
Jingle Bell Hock


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If true, isn't this a good thing? The politicians can start wars, draft us, send our people into battle, indebt future generations, and ruin the lives of innocent people in foreign lands, but they can't always make us believe in the cause, or make us want to kill the "enemy," although their leaders' agendas may be far worse than that of our own.

We hear about draft evaders and resisters, or even deserters, from the Vietnam era, and now, soldiers who don't want to participate in the current undeclared war, but there were men even during WW2 who were conscientious objectors.

I've heard stories about WW2 German soldiers - usually draftees - who tried not to kill anyone. It's not so hard to believe that Allied soldiers, although their cause was supposedly just, would also be reluctant to kill anyone if they didn't absolutely have to.

During WW1, European leaders feared that the soldiers of both sides would unite and refuse to fight (how well they got along during Christmas truces is an example), recognizing that they had more in common with each other than their leaders.

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Only when we remake ourselves can we remake the world.
- Outer Limits (2001)

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DesertRat
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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No, it's not a good thing. I want the guy in the fighting hole with me to sight in on, fire at, and kill the enemy--otherwise, the enemy will probably kill us. As tragic is at is, once it comes to that level, it really is them or us... and I'd much rather it be them.

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High on the wind, the Highland drums begin to roll, and something from the past just comes and stares into my soul... --Mark Knopfler

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lazerus the duck
The First USA Noel


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When it comes down to them and us I'd much rather it be the politicians.

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All the world's a face, And all the men and women merely acne.

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DesertRat
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Easy to say when you're sitting in your home. Not so easy to say when you're in a fighting hole and people are firing at you and dropping mortars on your head. At that point, you're left with a binary choice--what's your choice going to be?

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High on the wind, the Highland drums begin to roll, and something from the past just comes and stares into my soul... --Mark Knopfler

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Zachary Fizz
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Robert Graves, in Goodbye To All That, contrasted his experiences in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and another, "New Army" regiment, in the trenches in the First World War. The regular unit insisted on professional-style aggression of its men, which meant frequent aggressive patrols in No-Man's Land, snipers, careful attention to pre-determined firing positions, and much mental and spiritual, as well as mere physical, effort. The other regiment was more prone to a "Live and let live" compact with the Germans on the other side of the wire. Interestingly, the aggressive unit suffered fewer casualties.
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surfcitydogdad
Jingle Bell Hock


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Good one, Lazarus! I've always thought the politicians who start wars (and those who have voted for them) should fight it out and leave the rest of us alone. Just as they are generous with other people's money, they are generous with other people's lives. Let them spend their own money and spill their own blood if they believe so strongly.

Desert Rat makes a good point; once soldiers are committed to battle, it's about self-preservation, not ideology.

But draftees - as the US had from the War Between the States thru the undeclared war in Vietnam - and draftees of other nations - don't want to be there and may not be supportive of the mission objective, but are driven only by self-preservation (as evidenced by the mass surrender of Iraqi forces who didn't want to die for a brutal dictator).

Likewise, volunteers who have had a change of heart for various reasons (such as, signed up for Afghanistan but got sent to Iraq, realized that the war in Iraq was started under false pretenses, or had a political or religious conversion) may not be entirely supportive of the mission objective, and their presence could be detrimental to the safety or morale of other soldiers. For this reason they should be sent home and given general discharges.

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Only when we remake ourselves can we remake the world.
- Outer Limits (2001)

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Eddylizard
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
I've always thought the politicians who start wars (and those who have voted for them) should fight it out and leave the rest of us alone. Just as they are generous with other people's money, they are generous with other people's lives. Let them spend their own money and spill their own blood if they believe so strongly.


Two Tribes [Smile]

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"Ladies and gentlemen, this is what is commonly known as money. It comes in all sizes, colours, and denominations - like people."

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DesertRat
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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You'll have to forgive me if my replies sounded a little crabby or hostile... I was had just been unpleasantly woken up by a phonecall, and was in somewhat of a bad mood.

I'll have a bit more to say--and hopefully a bit more eloquently-- after I shake the "sleepies" off.

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High on the wind, the Highland drums begin to roll, and something from the past just comes and stares into my soul... --Mark Knopfler

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ASL
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by surfcitydogdad:
Good one, Lazarus! I've always thought the politicians who start wars (and those who have voted for them) should fight it out and leave the rest of us alone.

The rest of us? The rest of who? You? Have you been drafted to fight this war? Has anyone? I'm afraid I don't understand this point at all.

quote:
But draftees - as the US had from the War Between the States thru the undeclared war in Vietnam - and draftees of other nations - don't want to be there and may not be supportive of the mission objective, but are driven only by self-preservation (as evidenced by the mass surrender of Iraqi forces who didn't want to die for a brutal dictator).
1) I'm not willing to concede that's universally true.
2) As you said, the US does not use draftees, hence it is a moot point.

quote:
Likewise, volunteers who have had a change of heart for various reasons (such as, signed up for Afghanistan but got sent to Iraq, realized that the war in Iraq was started under false pretenses, or had a political or religious conversion) may not be entirely supportive of the mission objective, and their presence could be detrimental to the safety or morale of other soldiers. For this reason they should be sent home and given general discharges.
If they permit themselves to be detrimental to the safety and morale of their comerades, then they don't even deserve general discharges. You don't enlist to fight a war, you enlist to serve in the military. If you can't understand this basic concept, then I have little sympathy. Post-enlistment changes of heart are common to the military as a whole, not just warzones. Honestly, I have a higher opinion of soldiers who refuse to deploy than I would for someone who turned sour in a combat zone and truly became a detriment to those around them.

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"Dear Lord, please protect this rockethouse and all who dwell within..."

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asnakeny
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by surfcitydogdad:
Good one, Lazarus! I've always thought the politicians who start wars (and those who have voted for them) should fight it out and leave the rest of us alone.

Yeah, we should have set up a fight between Roosevelt and Hitler... and then Hitler kicks FDR's ass and the world becomes a safer place, right? [Roll Eyes]

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Is here no telephone?

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ASL
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by asnakeny:
quote:
Originally posted by surfcitydogdad:
Good one, Lazarus! I've always thought the politicians who start wars (and those who have voted for them) should fight it out and leave the rest of us alone.

Yeah, we should have set up a fight between Roosevelt and Hitler... and then Hitler kicks FDR's ass and the world becomes a safer place, right? [Roll Eyes]
Well, it goes without saying that we'd have made a rule requiring Hitler to remain in a wheelchair to level the playing field, just like wheelchair basketball.

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"Dear Lord, please protect this rockethouse and all who dwell within..."

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surfcitydogdad
Jingle Bell Hock


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My point was, let those who favor war fight it themselves, rather than sending other people's children to do their dirty work. So, stop rolling your eyes. Politicians are often eager to spend other people's money, to sacrifice other parents' children, and to tell us which parts of the Constitution they may ignore.

While we do not currently have a draft, we still have selective service, and many nations do have a draft. So, its spectre is always with us.

As for those of you who signed up, I don't want you to have to fight in a war, either, but by signing up you have made yourself answerable to whatever asshole is in the White House, and there is currently a big one. Of course, I blame the people who voted for him, and the Congresspersons who rubber-stamp his policies.

Hence when Bush entered into this war in Iraq by deceitful means, you are subject to deployment, whether you support it or not.

For this reason, whenever given the opportunity, I discourage young people from enlisting, and putting themselves in harm's way, seldom to protect the US, but to be cannon fodder for the politicians' follies. Does the phrase, "just say no" ring a bell? Once you sign up, they make it pretty hard to say no!

I could never give up that choice; I do not support government officials, employers, or my church when they make decisions with which I disagree, but I defer to my own conscience. I both admire members of the military and and find it hard to be suportive of them, because they have put themselves in that position. Of that attitude by many Americans you are no doubt aware.

I can't thank you for protecting Germany, Japan, amd South Korea, or for fighting Mr Bush's war, only for protecting OUR freedom, and as we are apparently not having any luck trying to kill Bin laden, and our presence in Afghanistan is increasingly problematic, it seems even our presence there is not effectively protecting our freedom.

I know that my views are not popular with those of you in the military, although many of you concur that our involvement in Iraq has been a mistake. I bear you no ill will, and don't wish to have adversarial relationships with my fellow snopesters, but surely you know that your presence in the military gives the politicians one more body to use in pursuit of their dubious policies.

I think it was Desert Rat who wrote of his pledge to uphold the US Constitution; the problem is that the President and most members of Congress do not uphold their promise to do the same, and send you off to fight conflicts that are either questionable or even counter-productive to preserving peace at home. Observe that the war in Iraq has boosted recruitment of terrorists, and a civil war is now being waged there. For how many years will you be subject to deployment in that quagmire?

A libertarian government would bring all US troops home from abroad, and you would only be used to defend THIS nation, not to stir things up elsewhere, and endanger yourselves in for the sake of unwise or immoral foreign policies, such as those of the current neo-conservative administration.

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Only when we remake ourselves can we remake the world.
- Outer Limits (2001)

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Does that mean 20% of all soldiers or 20% of soldiers in battle? Most armies only have about 20% of their soldiers in battle, the rest is taking care of injuries, cooking, transporting supplies, repairing vehicles, operating radios, putting bombs on aircraft, filling in forms, guarding various installations, policing the troops and so on.

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/Troberg

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Major D. Saster
The First USA Noel


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What I read several times about WWI is that a large majority of infantry soldiers never fired a shot at anyone because they - a. hardly ever saw the enemy which was solidly entranched and - b. felt completely lost and confused in the chaos and fury of artillery and machine-gun fire and ended up considering their rifle as a useless item.

Now, speaking of WWII and later wars, Troberg is quite right stating that in modern armies, front-line troops are much fewer than the ever-growing logistics.

As for the "will to kill" or lack thereof, I guess everyone who's been in an actual fight must answer for him(her)self. All others can count themselves lucky.

Here I must think of the young soldier in "Band of Brothers" who has joined the unit in the final weeks of the war and angers his battle-hardened comrade by hoping for "some action".

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Desperate, but not serious.

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Delta-V
Xboxing Day


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quote:
Originally posted by ASL:
Well, it goes without saying that we'd have made a rule requiring Hitler to remain in a wheelchair to level the playing field, just like wheelchair basketball.

That works until Hitler shows up in a KöenigTiger and claims it's a powered wheelchair. Shiny, happy, idealistic concepts only work when both sides agree to play by the rules. And in warfare, you can't just take your ball and go home if the other side doesn't play fair.

And as far as politicans being eager to sacrifice other people's children...back when more politicians had respect for the military (prior to Vietnam), it was fairly common for sons of politicans to be in the military. FDR sent four sons to WWII (one as a Marine Raider, one as a Fighter Pilot, and 2 as Navy officers). Teddy Roosevelt lost a son in WWI. Sen. Joe Kennedy lost a son in WWII. And many Generals have sent their sons in to battle. That has never prevented war before and never will.

For the record, the only member of Congress that has a child deployed to Iraq (Jim Johnson, D-SD)voted to approve the invasion.

quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
Does that mean 20% of all soldiers or 20% of soldiers in battle? Most armies only have about 20% of their soldiers in battle, the rest is taking care of injuries, cooking, transporting supplies, repairing vehicles, operating radios, putting bombs on aircraft, filling in forms, guarding various installations, policing the troops and so on.

I believe that Marshall's number means that in an agressive infantry company, 25% of the men would have fired their weapons in any given engagement, based on interviews with members of 400 units. The WWII infantry company had a pretty high tooth-to-tail ratio...the Headquarters section had only about 10 men, out of 140 or so total.

Marshall's methodology has been under fire since the book came out in 1947. In WWII, he apparently never actually asked the question 'Did you fire your weapon?'. He also didn't interview wounded soldiers. His notes were sparse and few are known to exist. So no-one really knows where that number comes from other than Marshall's head.

By Korea, Marshall's number went up to 55%, but it's impossible to know if that was a factor of the war or a change in method. He apparently did, on occasion, ask 'the question'.

Bear in mind also that in many circumstances, the company commander will hold one of his 3 platoons in reserve.

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"My neighbor asked why anyone would need a car that can go 190 mph. If the answer isn't obvious, and explaination won't help." - Csabe Csere

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jimmy101
The First USA Noel


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I believe that the OP has been pretty well debunked. As others have posted the methodology is suspect, and as Troberg pointed out, the 20% (or some other smallish percentage) is close to the traditional number of soldiers in any army that are actually troops in combat.

Another issue is that infantry tactics have changed since WW2. The concept of "supressive fire" is fairly new, having been introduced widely during either Korea or Vietnam. In WW2, and before, infantry was generally discouraged from firing in the general direction of the enemy unless it was in a volley fire (firing as a unit under the direct control of an officer or NCO). Otherwise, a soldier fired when he had a target.

More recently, US infantry have been trained to fire at where the enemy is thought to be in an effort to supress the enemies ability to fire. Since the suppressive fire is intrinsicaly inaccurate you have to get a lot of soldiers doing it for it to be effective.

In Vietnam when a unit had overnighted in the boonies, there was a tradition of firing randomly, en masse, into the jungle at daybreak. IIRC, it was called "the mad minute". The idea was to check the units weapons and discouraged any enemy that might have crept close to the camp in the dark. I would think that the percent of troops firing during the mad minute was close to 100%. Just because 100% of the troops fired doesn't mean it was particularly effective.

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ASL
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:
And as far as politicans being eager to sacrifice other people's children...back when more politicians had respect for the military (prior to Vietnam), it was fairly common for sons of politicans to be in the military. FDR sent four sons to WWII (one as a Marine Raider, one as a Fighter Pilot, and 2 as Navy officers). Teddy Roosevelt lost a son in WWI. Sen. Joe Kennedy lost a son in WWII.

Alright, that just hangs my munchkin. How does a politician's son serving in the military mean he has respect for it? You say "FDR sent four sons to WWII" as if he called them into his office, put their oaths of enlistment or office in front of them, smacked a pen down on the desk, and threatened to dis-own them if they didn't do the right thing and serve their country like good boys. Politicians are not their sons or daughters.

Coincidentally, I think you'll find that back when the US military was larger (as in the case of WWII) or less of a meritocracy (as in the early 1900's and before) it was common for the children of well to do types to be in the military. I'm not going to cite any statistics because you've already conceded that point, but instead of attributing it to the sheer size of the military or the lack of a sufficiently merit-based system of advancement, you attributed it to "respect for the military."

The idea of any politician, or any supporter of a politician, pinning a child's military service on their chest like a medal is truly sickening and outrageous.

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"Dear Lord, please protect this rockethouse and all who dwell within..."

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Delta-V
Xboxing Day


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quote:
Originally posted by ASL:
Alright, that just hangs my munchkin. How does a politician's son serving in the military mean he has respect for it? You say "FDR sent four sons to WWII" as if he called them into his office, put their oaths of enlistment or office in front of them, smacked a pen down on the desk, and threatened to dis-own them if they didn't do the right thing and serve their country like good boys. Politicians are not their sons or daughters.

At least one of them was already in the military before we declared war. FDR 'sent' them to WWII the same way he sent everyone else's son or daughter...by virtue of being Commander in Chief of the US military. His orders sent men in to battle, and 4 of them happened to be his sons.

As for why having a child in the military means respect for the military, it has more to do with the attitude about that decision rather than the action. They seem to actively discourage their children from joining the military, as if it weren't an honorable career path. That's not respecting the military. And they're raising a generation of future political leaders who will have no clue about how the military functions.

quote:
The idea of any politician, or any supporter of a politician, pinning a child's military service on their chest like a medal is truly sickening and outrageous.
A son's or daughter's military service is something to be proud of. Maybe not something to be shouted from the highest tower, but certainly something something they should respect.

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"My neighbor asked why anyone would need a car that can go 190 mph. If the answer isn't obvious, and explaination won't help." - Csabe Csere

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Surfcitydogdad, I have to ask, what is the officially accepted definition of the expression, "defend THIS nation"?

Some would claim that we should turn the other cheek, no matter what (ala Quakers, Shakers and Ghandi).

Some would claim that we capitulate and negotiate for peace.

Some would claim that we take up weapons only when "teh ebil" troops landed on our soil.

Some would claim that we shut all our borders to keep all the bad influences out.

Some would claim that we send emissaries out to all nations to diplomatize (is that a word?) peace everywhere.

Some would claim that we annex what we can, and nuke the rest into parking lots.

So what is it? National defence is a huge topic. Just because the guy that volunteered to sit in the big chair doesn't share YOUR definition doesn't mean that he is necessarily wrong...

And before you jump up and down and blame others for voting for a bad polititian, consider that you may have failed in opposing him/her prior to the election. Read: He ain't there cuz I voted for him - he's there cuz you didn't talk me out of voting for him.

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Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

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surfcitydogdad
Jingle Bell Hock


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Good question, Malruhn.

First, my knee-jerk response is "Don't blame me, I vote Libertarian."

To be concise (for a change), and I hope not overly simplistic, my definition of defending this nation would generally mean to defend it from military (or terrorist) attack or from military invasion. Pre-emptive strikes and involvement in the affairs of other nations would not fit that model. Attempts to violently overthrow the US Constitution would also justify a response.

I don't know that I want to get involved in this again, as I have already alienated a few military personnel in this and other threads. I have attempted to make conciliatory remarks in this and other discussions. I should probably stay out of this category and stick to political or "rant" categories to spout my libertarian and peacenik opinions and ideals.

If you want to discuss it further, perhaps you might start a new topic, or I would be glad to exchange private messages or e-mail with you.

I'm working on my writing and rhetorical skills, but I don't always articulate my position well, so I might opt to be lazy (but more effective) by linking various Lew Rockwell.com articles to you.

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Only when we remake ourselves can we remake the world.
- Outer Limits (2001)

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DesertRat
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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SCDD, I mentioned this in another thread, but I'm not sure you saw my post. I want you to know I apologize for my earlier "dickhead-ish" responses to you. I was in a very bad mood at the time, but that's no excuse--you've been nothing but civil and courteous, and I owe you the same courtesy.

I still very strongly disagree with you, but the next post you see from me will be a bit more gentlemanly and a bit less boorish.

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High on the wind, the Highland drums begin to roll, and something from the past just comes and stares into my soul... --Mark Knopfler

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surfcitydogdad
Jingle Bell Hock


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Well, DR, I either didn't take offense or missed it. I thought you'd been quite reasonable and polite; if you were miffed it was understandable. No problem!

I've hardly been perfect myself, but I try to be nice. It was very courteous of you to apologize, though. Thanks, and the same from me, if I offended (and to anyone else). I suppose, then, that you realize that when I state my opinions, I don't mean offense to military personnel, but rather, I oppose the policies of the major political parties and the foreign and military policies of the current President and Congress.

ALTHOUGH, I may have alluded to people who enlist being part of the problem (because you become the instruments of the politicians' policies), which was probably what offended the most. It's kind of hard to put a "nothing personal" twist on that, although I mean no offense! I guess it seems quite 1968 hippy of me to say, essentially, "what if they gave a war and no one came?" But, I did grow up in that era, so the Vietnam war affected my attitudes for sure, and drove me to be anti-war in my youth and then libertarian my whole adult life, if not sooner (back when I still thought I was a liberal). I'm pretty much irreparably soured on military and government.

The anarchist in me feels that besides voting (which seldom achieves the desired effect), things like withholding funding (this means participating in the underground economy or avoiding federal taxes in general - activities I no longer do) and withholding manpower - by not enlisting (or by refusing to be drafted) - are the best ways to keep my government from making war. They don't seem to bother to legally declare wars anymore, as the Constitution requires, so besides trying to get people to vote Libertarian, the only thing left for me to do is to withhold my support in any way possible (and that has included discouraging young people from enlisting - sorry, Delta). I am aware that others feel differently, obviously those who join the armed forces. I can only hope our elected politicians don't put you at risk for their dubious causes.

BTW, you know I'm both Libertarian and LDS, right? I make no claim to represent either group in my opinions, although I definitely reflect libertarianism far better than I do the mainstream of the Mormon church. However, Bush-supporters (although he's mostly lost the support of Utahns on the war) that many LDS may be, it is probably true that most active LDS would encourage their children to serve missions, while military service is not a preferrred option (I saw a comment above, by Delta-V, about people who actively discourage their children from going into the military, and I don't know to what extent Libertarians or LDS do that - or the politicians I think he was talking about - but I certainly would. Also, I think there are class and cultural differences at work in this matter).

While I was serving as a missionary in Colorado (1978-80), Carter reinstated draft registration, which turned me against him (although I had both campaigned and voted for him in 76). When I returned home, one of the first things I did was renew my passport; there was talk of involvement in El Salvador and I wanted no part of it. I was soon recruited to the Libertarian Party, when I moved to liberal mecca, Santa Cruz (ironic, no?), to attend the UCSC. So, I voted for LP candidate Ed Clark, not Carter or Reagan. I had no other option, but my conscience was clean.

BTW, the LDS church encourages obedience to law, but I have always been completely opposed to the draft, even in time of declared war, and I feel that one must follow his own conscience (as long as that doesn't involve violence or other acts which interfere with the rights of others), rather than defer to the law, the government, the majority, their church, or whatever. I have to live with myself. Likewise, you and others who have signed up for the military, for whatever reasons, have done so freely and in following your own consciences. I don't mean any ill will or moral judgements about military personnel.

I didn't intend to say anymore in this thread (or to further digress from the actual topic), so before I stop, I want to point out that I'm a Baby Boomer (born 1958), and my father, all his brothers, all of my mom's brothers, my stepfather, and my former father-in-law, were all WWII veterans (but only my former father-in-law was ever career military - as a musician!). I appreciate their sacrifices. My dad worked for the VA after the war, for the rest of his life. I display the flag on appropriate holidays, and I preach the virtues of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, but I vigorously oppose US military involvement in foreign nations who have not attacked us.

Because I was a kid during the Vietnam war (and had the war gone on only another year or two, I could have been subject to the draft), I became quite opposed to US military involvement in just about any circumstances, and I became determined to NEVER allow myself to be drafted. No one in my family or church (or any teachers or professors) ever encouraged me to go into the military, nor discouraged it (though my father might have; and he wasn't keen that I turned down scholarships to go on a mission, rather than finish college first), but I never considered going in the military, especially after putting in my two years in another regimented activity. Believe me, the military wouldn't want an anti-authoritarian trouble-maker such as me; it's wonder I got thru my mission. Oh, I'm a decent, moral person; I just dislike rules, and having to do what others tell me.

Sorry to go on about myself, or to once again wax verbose, but I wanted for us to understand one another. As you now know, I'm not a hippy-dippy flower child pothead, a communist, or the least bit sympathetic to sharia law or even the slightest mixing of church and state in any nation, I just don't support the policies of our current administration (or of almost all past ones).

I appreciate how civil everyone has been, although sometimes clearly miffed (BTW, there is an active thread about the rolling eyes emoticon!). Feel free to write me private messages if you have comments, questions or concerns, or to argue with any of my pertinent political postings!

--------------------
Only when we remake ourselves can we remake the world.
- Outer Limits (2001)

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Aw, *PFFFFFFT* Y'ain't gonna alientate me for getting into a pissin' contest, no-how. [Wink] Jeez, if I can consider Sara at Home and AnglRdr to be friends after our tirades, you aren't going to bother me at ALL!! [lol]

The differences in that definition is why the guy that sits in the Big Chair is despised by a certain number of Americans (and foreigners as well). It doesn't matter WHAT the Pres believes, there are some on the sidelines that will disapprove. I just wanted to pose the question to ensure that you understood that as well.

No blood, no foul.
_______________________

Back on topic.

Is there a breakdown over how many support troops per combat arms troop there were back in WWII versus now?

I would posit, that we are more streamlined now, and need fewer support troops - which would raise the ratio of shooters versus non-shooters - and thereby skew the numbers posed and posted in the OP.

Any takers?

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Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

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jimmy101
The First USA Noel


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Malruhn, you have a good point. The modern army contracts out a lot of things that used to be done by enlisted men.

At the large US bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, the food service, laundry service, physical plant maintenance and other things are done by contractors. In WW2, those jobs were almost always done by soldiers.

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surfcitydogdad
Jingle Bell Hock


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Malruhn, both of your sigs are great!

Jimmy makes an important point. There isn't much that government at every level can't and shouldn't privatize.

--------------------
Only when we remake ourselves can we remake the world.
- Outer Limits (2001)

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Jimmy, I was thinking more along the lines of streamlining the process...

WWI/WWII, food prep was done by an "army" of cooks and helpers - people prepping water, cooking/burning gravies, cooking meat, peeling and cutting potatoes... and then several servers to slop it all into your canteen cup.

Today, 1000 men can be fed by ONE food preparer and several servers. Start the oven, put a bunch of trays of frozen, pre-prepared foodstuff in the oven, turn on a timer, and take the aluminum top off. Serve...

Right off the bat, you have about six to eight fewer food service specialists... So the ratio is brought down.

Lather, rinse, repeat with mechanics and tech-specialists and transportation folks and so-on and so-forth.

It sounds to easy to me... what am I missing??

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Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Lather, rinse, repeat with mechanics and tech-specialists and transportation folks and so-on and so-forth.
Actually, todays reliance on a few powerful high-tech pieces instead of massed troops has probably increased the need for support drastically.

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/Troberg

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ASL
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
Today, 1000 men can be fed by ONE food preparer and several servers. Start the oven, put a bunch of trays of frozen, pre-prepared foodstuff in the oven, turn on a timer, and take the aluminum top off. Serve...
>snip<
It sounds to easy to me... what am I missing??

I think you're missing the 3 dozen other "preparers" (actually, it's probably more) that it takes to prepare food for 1000 men. If it's so dandy and simple, then why does a US Navy destroyer meant to feed only 300 people have an entire division devoted to food service?

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"Dear Lord, please protect this rockethouse and all who dwell within..."

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Unusual Elfin Lights
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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Aside from the support, technology has done alot as far as limiting the number of troops engaged in combat.

For example, during WWII the method of attack that was most heavily used was the basic "advance to contact". In human parlance that meant that the way you found out where the enemy was consisted of walking in a huge extended line until you started taking fire from an enemy position. This, invariably, led to casualties before you even get a chance to fight back.

Nowadays, with technology, we tend to lead with sensors. These may be sophisticate surveillance vehicles with day and night cameras, ground surveillance radars, optical sights etc. Or they may be 21st century equipment suites such as unmanned aerial vehicles operated at the platoon, company, battalion or brigade levels. Modern day direct fire weapon systems use high tech missiles to destroy vehicles from kilometres away, vice the older "bazooka" weapons that required an operator to be mere metres away.

Each of these systems require a whole team of operators and technicians. In our military we are going from a manoeuvre based military whereby the majority of our troops are infantry and armoured soldiers into a command and sense based military where we can find the enemy with our multiple sensors with enough standoff so that we can use our manoeuvre forces to the best effect.

Couple that with the fact that we want to overmatch our enemy with firepower before the first infanteer exits his vehicle and the requirement that every level of command keep a reserve means that fewer and fewer soldiers are at the coal face compared to WWII and Korea.

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bloodaxe
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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There was an interesting programme on this topic on British TV a few years ago. It mentioned the statistic and concluded that we are actually very reluctant as a species to kill people, probably due to society's morals. Around 95% found it extremely difficult, the other 5% were judged to be more or less psychopaths as they had no problems at all. Thus it concluded that people avoided it in WW2 and the Korean War. Psychologists afterwards altered the training in the US and British armies to include a form of conditioning so that modern soldiers are not inhibited in combat by moral choices. The killing ratio in Viet Nam, The Falklands and the Gulf Wars against non-conditioned troops is proof that this process works, and it only really works on volunteer armies rather than conscripts.
The problem start for modern soldiers after combat, when they realise that they have killed fellow human beings and fills them with a moral dilemma and prays on their conscience, hence the problems with Post traumatic Stress Disorder. I'm sure I've read somewhere that more British soldiers (Ex Falkland vets) have committed suicide than were actually lost in combat there.

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ASL
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by bloodaxe:
Psychologists afterwards altered the training in the US and British armies to include a form of conditioning so that modern soldiers are not inhibited in combat by moral choices.

Which psychologists and what conditioning? Please don't say "Well, you see, they changed the type of silhouette they used for target practice."

"I saw it on a TV show" rates about as high as "I heard it from a friend" on the credibility scale.

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"Dear Lord, please protect this rockethouse and all who dwell within..."

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bloodaxe
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Rather a brusque reply ASL! As I said it was a programme I saw a few years ago, so I don't remember the finer details. I brought it up as I thought it was of interest that people are not generally easy to turn into killers.
I assume they were psychologists specialising in military training- are you telling me they don't exist? And that they aren't working on ways to make soldiers into more efficient killing machines?
As for conditioning isn't that what military training is all about? To take a civilian, break him and rebuild him into a soldier? It's obviously logical that training methods have been refined considerably since WW2, is it not, and that methods have been introduced to make modern soldiers more effective?

Posts: 34 | From: South Shields, England | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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