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Old 2007-08-10, 14:23   Link #1
Zaris
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Only 15-20% of soldiers fire at the enemy...

This is a fantastic article. I enjoyed reading this thoroughly.

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/grea.../grossman.html

In the WWII pacific theater, it was determined that of the soldiers that actually engaged the enemy, only 25% actually fired back, and that after three engagements regardless of how long or short, a platoon or squad was pretty much combat ineffective.

Combat is terrifying, short, and violent. It is basic primal instinct for most of us to AVOID going into direct harm, unless powerfull emotional or intellectual reasons override that instinct most people will stay under cover, flee, fire blindly in the general direction of the enemy while staying as protected as much as possible. The very few able to actually engage the enemy have overridden their natural instincts through either training (repitition to make deliberate actions instinctive to override primal insticts) or they have reached a place emotionaly or intellectually where thier own safety is secondary instead of primary.

Sounds pretty basic, but few people realize how in most situations only a small number of those engaged actually shoot back, let alone effectively.

That is why suicide bombers and zealots are so feared as opponents, they have overridden their natural instinct for self preservation and as such will aggressively engage their opponents. What has allowed our forces to compete is we have excellent training, equipment, and moral.

Warfare is vastly more complex than what most would think.
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Old 2007-08-10, 17:02   Link #2
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Fascinating stuff. Here's another article I came across a while ago about the same book: http://www.military-sf.com/Killing.htm.

This quote should be of particular note for people interested in military aircraft and the like:
"In WW2 only one percent of the pilots accounted for thirty to forty percent of enemy fighters shot down in the air. Some pilots didn't shoot down a single enemy plane."

Here's another tidbit that expands on the points made in the original article: "In Korea, the rate of soldiers unwilling to fire on the enemy decreased and fifty five percent of the soldiers fired at the enemy. In Vietnam, this rate increased to about ninety five percent but this doesn't mean they were trying to hit the target. In fact it usually took around fifty-two thousand bullets to score one kill in regular infantry units! It may be interesting to not that when Special Forces kills are recorded and monitored this often includes kills scored by calling in artillery or close air support. In this way SF type units could score very high kill ratios like fifty to a hundred for every SF trooper killed. This is not to say these elite troops didn't score a large number of bullet type kills. It is interesting to note that most kills in war are from artillery or other mass destruction type weapons."

By the way, this research helps to explain why snipers were so universally hated.
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Old 2007-08-10, 17:17   Link #3
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Quote:
It is interesting to note that most kills in war are from artillery or other mass destruction type weapons.
With just imagining the sound of an artillery shell being fired at me, I feel quite traumatized. I remember that's one of the things that attracted me to the game Call of Duty, with its nice depiction of what being in a battlefield feels like.

Not that a game can convey even 1% of the feelings a person subject to such an experience suffers.
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Old 2007-08-10, 17:42   Link #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
This quote should be of particular note for people interested in military aircraft and the like:
"In WW2 only one percent of the pilots accounted for thirty to forty percent of enemy fighters shot down in the air. Some pilots didn't shoot down a single enemy plane."
Not surprising, considering just how elite those legendary ace pilots in Germany were.
They still hold the world record for highest numbers of planes shot down.
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Old 2007-08-10, 17:47   Link #5
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You can be sure I'm one of the soldiers who'd rather flee than shoot.

Primo, I don't wanna die because some other person wants me to shoot at whoever it is.
Secundo, I'm not even capable of killing a kitten, how does one expect me to kill a human being than?

I think it's only possible if I'm drugged with some evil substance.
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Old 2007-08-10, 18:57   Link #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aohige View Post
Not surprising, considering just how elite those legendary ace pilots in Germany were.
They still hold the world record for highest numbers of planes shot down.
The statistic holds true for just about every single air force in World War II. Moreover, I believe that about 10% of all pilots were responsible for 90% of all kills. And that similar statistics are true of tanks and other AFVs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syaoran
You can be sure I'm one of the soldier who'd rather flee than shoot.
The funny thing is that most soldiers react the same way; the only difference being that they generally think that they'll shoot until they see actual combat.
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Old 2007-08-10, 19:54   Link #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
With just imagining the sound of an artillery shell being fired at me, I feel quite traumatized. I remember that's one of the things that attracted me to the game Call of Duty, with its nice depiction of what being in a battlefield feels like.

Not that a game can convey even 1% of the feelings a person subject to such an experience suffers.
I feel the same. I have great respect for those who can fight in battles.
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Old 2007-08-10, 19:57   Link #8
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Quote:
I feel the same. I have great respect for those who can fight in battles.
I wouldn't pick "respect", I'd pick "compassion"... though I think I'm referring specifically to raw recruits. I don't feel any respect or compassion whatsoever for anyone who willingly joins the army.
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Old 2007-08-10, 20:06   Link #9
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I guess what really needed for them to shoot is a very strong reason like very high nationalism when fighting for their country, fighting for protecting something important or something like that...

If i'll become i soldier, i think i'll shoot without second thought if i consider my mission is good, like protecting my country or such. And in my belief, die in war is a very honorable thing. Though i don't wanna die so easy. If we die, our fight stops at that time, but if we still alive, we can still fight for it right...

Well... that's just my opinion anyway...
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Old 2007-08-10, 20:07   Link #10
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The stats are fascinating aren't they? I first came across the numbers in this book long ago:

How to Make War, 3rd Ed, James F Dunnigan (1993)

Dunnigan went on to make another important observation -- there is a very simple reason why soldiers were more willing to fire upon the enemy during the Korean and Vietnam Wars: they carried personal automatic weapons.

Psychologically, most infantry feel comforted to know that they are being covered by heavy machine gun fire (on their side). I've trained under live-fire conditions (but nope, thankfully, no real combat experience -- and I don't want it), and I can safely say that the sound of heavy 7.62mm rounds blasting from a GPMG is terrifying for the enemy, and conversely good for your morale.
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Old 2007-08-10, 20:17   Link #11
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I wonder what would be the percentage for brain washed soldiers like the North Korean soldiers, since they are all ready to die for that sob Kim Jung Il. The Nazi youth from what I heard did not hesitate at all when they fought in WW2.
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Old 2007-08-10, 20:34   Link #12
Jinto
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Originally Posted by Brecht
What if they gave a war and nobody came?
Why then the war will come to you!
He who stays home when the fight begins
And lets another fight for his cause
Should take care:
He who does not take part
In the battle will share in the defeat.
Even avoiding battle will not avoid Battle,
since not to fight for your own cause really means
Fighting in behalf of your enemy's cause.
A matter of fundamentaly conflicting morals.
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Old 2007-08-10, 22:00   Link #13
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There is nothing glorious about war or wariors. At all times, the typical victim of war died and dies an unnecessary, unheroic, and undignified death, and forgotten by those who first fooled him by and later used him for their propaganda. And in the days of modern warfare this portion is rapidly reaching 100 percent. Lucky are those who can create romanticized pictures of soldiers while sitting on their desk chairs.

The number 15-20% tells me that there is still hope for humanity. We are not the mindless killers the cynics want us to believe we are.
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Old 2007-08-10, 23:09   Link #14
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Originally Posted by hyperlion View Post
I wonder what would be the percentage for brain washed soldiers like the North Korean soldiers, since they are all ready to die for that sob Kim Jung Il. The Nazi youth from what I heard did not hesitate at all when they fought in WW2.
It doesn't seem to have made any difference whatsoever. Neither of these groups inflicted substantially higher casualty rates than their foes did, so it's likely that the 15-20% rule held for them as well.

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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
The number 15-20% tells me that there is still hope for humanity. We are not the mindless killers the cynics want us to believe we are.
One of the points that wasn't dealt with in either link is that 2% of all soldiers are psychologically wired to shoot to kill at all times; by implication, not even all of the 15-20% do so. Instead, they're just the ones who shoot at their enemies at all.
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Old 2007-08-10, 23:51   Link #15
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
I wouldn't pick "respect", I'd pick "compassion"... though I think I'm referring specifically to raw recruits. I don't feel any respect or compassion whatsoever for anyone who willingly joins the army.
Well... I suppose if you put it in that sense then yes. Those willingly signing up for the pure joy of it, that's either insanity or pure devotion.
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Old 2007-08-11, 00:00   Link #16
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Why would "willingly joining" the army be for the pure joy of it?
I hate wars, I hate taking initiative of invasion, and am saddened by the casualties brought by it.
But military is a necessary evil, and someone has to be a soldier.
I have great respect for soldiers that enroll in the military to serve their country, even though I hate it.

Is that contradictory? I don't believe so.
Because if they didn't, you may have been the one who had to.
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Old 2007-08-11, 06:02   Link #17
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Why would "willingly joining" the army be for the pure joy of it?
Since the word "patriot" has fallen from use.
Today, patriotism is only a synonim for terrorism and vengence.
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Old 2007-08-11, 07:49   Link #18
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Quote:
Why would "willingly joining" the army be for the pure joy of it?
I hate wars, I hate taking initiative of invasion, and am saddened by the casualties brought by it.
But military is a necessary evil, and someone has to be a soldier.
I have great respect for soldiers that enroll in the military to serve their country, even though I hate it.
The thing is, I don't understand this so-called "patriotism". Though in some way I do, the thing is, I can't sympathize with someone who is willing to kill other people in order to protect the notion of a country. In my opinion, no country is more important than a single person's life. What I dislike is not their willingness to put themselves in jeopardy, but the willingness to put other people in jeopardy in order to protect the notion of something that doesn't represent anything at all (if it were up to me, invisible boundaries, like countries, wouldn't exist... but I guess that's off topic). My country doesn't represent me. Why should I feel some kind of attachment to someone who wants to kill other people in order to protect something that doesn't mean a thing?

If you think deeply enough, the very notion of a country is completely pointless.
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Old 2007-08-11, 08:09   Link #19
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In the middle ages there were somewhere around 3 levels to society. You had your village or city and it's administration/tiran. Then you had the country and then you had the rest of the world. The country at that time was seen the same way as we see global organisation, lets say Nato or UN, today. Now level 1 went poof and we're all at level 2 with things like discrimination and so forth pushed aside. So the equivalent of patriotism today becomes thoughts of global unity and piece.

As far as the touchy feely subjects relate to this, I completely agree with what Wk said above.
Now lets all just take one step back and return to the topic at hand. ~
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Old 2007-08-11, 08:18   Link #20
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
The thing is, I don't understand this so-called "patriotism". Though in some way I do, the thing is, I can't sympathize with someone who is willing to kill other people in order to protect the notion of a country. In my opinion, no country is more important than a single person's life. What I dislike is not their willingness to put themselves in jeopardy, but the willingness to put other people in jeopardy in order to protect the notion of something that doesn't represent anything at all (if it were up to me, invisible boundaries, like countries, wouldn't exist... but I guess that's off topic). My country doesn't represent me. Why should I feel some kind of attachment to someone who wants to kill other people in order to protect something that doesn't mean a thing?

If you think deeply enough, the very notion of a country is completely pointless.
What you said isn't wrong, however there are people who love their country. They love their country for it's history and culture it is not just a piece of land. Many people thinks that their country represent them, if foreigner ask a person "who are you?" they would probably answer them not with their name but their nationality. You would also protect your country for what it represent, maybe for it's ideas and government. The feeling of patriotism is very hard to describe, it might be true that if you think about it probably is worthless, however patriotism is sometime what brings people together as one.
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