Author Topic: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling  (Read 41544 times)

Fenring

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #300 on: August 27, 2016, 02:08:23 AM »
As I think about it, I think there is another basis for calling the claim that only 15% of infantry soldiers ever fire a shot a bunch of bunk.

IF that was the case, I'd expect to see there being all kinds of clinical reports and studies on soldiers having psych issues over "I could have shot the enemy attacker, but I couldn't do it, and my buddy died because of it." Rather than the more classical "survivors guilt" story we normally hear about, where their survival, and the deaths of the rest of their group(buddies), seem to be entirely left to chance and dumb luck in many cases.

Oh you're right, the number LR said was 1/8, not 1%. Heh, there goes part of my previous post. But anyhow there's also this: Can you imagine a platoon sergeant not knowing whether each of his troops had ever fired a shot or not? And a lieutenant not knowing whether his unit was laying down proper fire or not? How negligent would these people have to be to not realize that most of their soldiers never pulled the trigger during a firefight? Or maybe there was a wink-wink system going on where they knowingly allowed most of the soldiers to not really participate? But the latter is a bit hard to believe when casualties are running high. Or maybe most units just weren't involved in furballs with lots of shooting and didn't see much direct action? But if this was the case it would change the entire nature of the claim regarding how many troops fired, as if that had anything to do with personal scruples.

TheDeamon

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #301 on: August 27, 2016, 09:30:38 AM »
Grossman(/Marshall) claims a 1 to 2% shoot to kill rate, with only 15%(including that 1 to 2% group, I imagine) bothering to shoot at all within the infantry forces in WW2.

While I might nominally buy into the shoot-to-kill claim, it still circles back to if that were the case, I'd expect there to something of a common theme out there regarding PTSD cases where people would be going "I could have stopped it if I'd only tried to kill our attacker(s) beforehand." Since such cases seem to be practically unheard of, I'm inclined to think they tend to be pretty rare.

Which as you mention also brings in the question about competence of the platoon leadership if they're not noticing that well over two thirds of their squad/platoon members are "combat ineffective" and cannot be trusted to cover anybody's back. Nevermind their fellow soldiers fighting alongside them. I'm pretty sure the guy sitting next to you is going to be able to tell if you're actually shooting or if you're just "going through the motions."

The "other factor" with the 15% & 1 or 2% claim going hand in hand, is that if it was valid in regards to the actually fighter count, those guys should have been rightfully refusing to continue to fight after their first fire fight, on the grounds that they couldn't trust the rest of their squad/platoon. (Of course, the typical squad/team size also would tend to put paid to both the 1/8th and 2% claim, hell, the typical platoon size would put paid to the 2% claim on shoot to kill)

For reference, a "squad" is comprised of 2 to 12 members, for the US Army circa 1942, a "Rifle squad" would comprise 12 members, broken into 3 teams(Alpha, Bravo, Charlie) of 4 members each. A platoon is comprised of 2 squads, so 24 people.

As such, by Marshall's reporting, out of a full platoon(24 people), only 3 people would actually bother to shoot, and of them, it's unlikely any of them would be trying to kill with their shots. To get to that point, you'd need to bring in a second platoon(bringing the count to 48 people), at which time you'd then have 6 people shooting, and one of those 6 might be shooting to kill(2% of 48 gives you 0.96). But realistically, you'd be looking at needing the better part of a company(80 to 150 soldiers) on scene to reliably have someone present who'd shoot to kill/harm if the 1% number was the more accurate claim.

On further consideration, that just flies in the face of any account I'm aware of in regards to combat on the ground for infantry forces during WW2. Marshall is simply wrong, and not by a little, which by extension means Grossman is on some serious crack. Particularly given that those unit sizes have been tested in combat for some time now, and they haven't needed to be adjusted, if Marshall's observations were accurate, they certainly would have been.

Fenring

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #302 on: August 27, 2016, 11:27:08 AM »
Grossman(/Marshall) claims a 1 to 2% shoot to kill rate, with only 15%(including that 1 to 2% group, I imagine) bothering to shoot at all within the infantry forces in WW2.

Thanks for the clarification. I don't feel as dumb now (addressing my pen-penultimate post: game on!)

Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #303 on: August 27, 2016, 06:54:52 PM »
While the numbers presented look like they're on the low side to my eye, I don't see a reason to doubt the idea that many drafted soldiers spent a lot more time hiding than firing in WW2.
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I'd expect to see there being all kinds of clinical reports and studies on soldiers having psych issues over "I could have shot the enemy attacker, but I couldn't do it, and my buddy died because of it." Rather than the more classical "survivors guilt" story we normally hear about, where their survival, and the deaths of the rest of their group(buddies), seem to be entirely left to chance and dumb luck in many cases.
Did an expectation that you won't see such clinical reports and studies obviate an attempt to look?

This is from the wikipedia article on Survivor's Guilt:
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Stephen Joseph, a psychologist at the University of Warwick, has studied the survivors of the capsizing of the MS Herald of Free Enterprise which killed 193 of the 459 passengers.[2] His studies showed that 60 percent of the survivors suffered from survivor guilt. Joseph went on to say: "There were three types: first, there was guilt about staying alive while others died; second, there was guilt about the things they failed to do – these people often suffered post-traumatic 'intrusions' as they relived the event again and again; third, there were feelings of guilt about what they did do, such as scrambling over others to escape. These people usually wanted to avoid thinking about the catastrophe. They didn't want to be reminded of what really happened.
Notice regarding the issue of the types listed in Joseph's study, that the greater degree of perceived personal culpability, the more the survivors used avoidance as a psychological defense mechanism. This means that the fact that you hear more about the first type of survivor's guilt probably reflects the fact that the second and third types are reluctant to publicize their experience...

Even so, it is nonetheless a well enough known phenomenon as to be a cliche represented in mainstream movies about WW2, such as Saving Private Ryan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW9Q1cm_Tnw

« Last Edit: August 27, 2016, 07:00:31 PM by godsblackestcrow »

TheDeamon

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #304 on: August 27, 2016, 11:31:27 PM »
The second form of survivors guilt is well known, and I was well aware of it when I posted. Thing is, in virtually every case I've ever heard of, it's usually a "trick of fate" or other such thing they're regretting. In other words some completely random and generally mundane thing that happens in daily life which results a split second, or longer, difference in actions on the part of the survivor which either leads to their personal survival, or inadvertent death of the other(s). Things which are completely unreasonable for people to hold themselves responsible for in hindsight.

Such as blaming themselves for surviving an IED attack due to deciding to change spots in a military transport at the last moment. They survive, they guy they traded with dies.

The bomb tech that failed to detect an IED before someone else found it, to that person's detriment. The forward scout that missed some "tell" that they just wandered into an ambush, so on and so forth. Most of those cases are people kicking themselves for not performing at 110% of their capabilities at a critical time, rather than the 90% they were actually giving at the time.

Which still brings us back to: The "survivors guilt" story of "I watched my buddies die to someone I refused to shoot at" (in a combat context, prisoners are another matter) is a virtually unheard of thing so far as I am aware.

TheDeamon

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #305 on: August 28, 2016, 12:07:48 AM »
Which still brings us back to: The "survivors guilt" story of "I watched my buddies die to someone I refused to shoot at" (in a combat context, prisoners are another matter) is a virtually unheard of thing so far as I am aware.

To clarify: I have heard the survivor's guilt story of "I saw the enemy, and I hesitated in shooting them." During which moment in time said hostile actor does something resulting in the deaths of others.

But that still is a far cry from flat out refusing to shoot, or firing but deliberately trying to miss, when confronted with a hostile force trying to kill you and those with you.

Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #306 on: August 28, 2016, 12:51:51 AM »
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The "survivors guilt" story of "I watched my buddies die to someone I refused to shoot at" (in a combat context, prisoners are another matter) is a virtually unheard of thing so far as I am aware.
Well, it would be unheard of: no one who has experienced something like that wants to think about it, much less tell the story to an audience.

Like I said, I personally think that Marshall's numbers look low. But it's not really an area in which I have especial expertise, and it does bear mentioning that there have been significant changes made across our military training programs that were very much based in Marshall's analysis.

Grossman responded to criticism of his use of Marshall's figures in a military journal. Nothing he says dissuades me of my perception that the percentages look too small to be valid, but he does make some good points.
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I appreciate Mr. Engen’s kind words about aspects of my work and research in his review of my On Killing and On Combat in Canadian Military Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2. However, it appears that his primary concern is that Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall’s work concerning non-firing behaviour in soldiers during the Second World War has been discredited, and, therefore, anything based upon Marshall’s work is equally discredited. This is, indeed, a worthy topic for scholarly consideration.

However, in reference to Marshall’s research, I would ask the reader to keep an open mind. The definitive US military source on Marshall is the US TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) Historical Monograph entitled, SLAM The Influence of SLA Marshall on the United States Army, by Major F.D.G. Williams. This document gives a well-rounded insight into Marshall, and it generally supports him as a scholar. Indeed, the author claims to have seen the rough copies of S.L.A. Marshall’s field surveys, which others claim do not exist. Permit me to include here an extract from my entry on “Aggression and Violence,” as published in The Oxford Companion to American Military History:

One major modern revelation in the field of military psychology is the observation that this resistance to killing one’s own species is also a key factor in human combat. Brigadier General SLA Marshall first observed this during his work as the Official US Historian of the European Theater 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 weapons at an exposed enemy soldier. Key weapons, such as a flame thrower, usually fired. Crew served weapons, such as a machine gun, almost always fired. And firing would increase greatly if a nearby leader demanded that the soldier fire. But, when left to their own devices, the great majority of individual combatants throughout history appear to have been unable or unwilling to kill.

Marshall’s findings have been somewhat controversial. Faced with scholarly concern about a researcher’s methodology and conclusions, the scientific method involves replicating the research. In Marshall’s case, every available, parallel, scholarly study validates his basic findings. Ardant du Picq’s surveys of French officers in the 1860s and his observations on ancient battles (Battle Studies, 1946), Keegan’s and Holmes’ numerous accounts of ineffectual firing throughout history (Soldiers, 1985), Richard Holmes’ assessment of Argentine firing rates in the Falklands War (Acts of War, 1985), Paddy Griffith’s data on the extraordinarily low killing rate among Napoleonic and American Civil War regiments (Battle Tactics of the American Civil War, 1989), the British Army’s laser re-enactments of historical battles, the FBI’s studies of non-firing rates among law enforcement officers in the 1950s and 1960s, and countless other individual and anecdotal observations, all confirm Marshall’s fundamental conclusion that man is not, by nature, a killer. Indeed, from a psychological perspective, the history of warfare can be viewed as a series of successively more effective tactical and mechanical mechanisms to enable or force combatants to overcome their resistance to killing.

By 1946, the US Army had accepted Marshall’s conclusions, and the Human Resources Research Office of the US Army subsequently pioneered a revolution in combat training which eventually replaced firing at ‘bulls eye’ targets with deeply ingrained ‘conditioning’ using realistic, man-shaped ‘pop-up’ targets that fall when hit. Psychologists know that this kind of powerful ‘operant conditioning’ is the only technique which will reliably influence the primitive, mid-brain processing of a frightened human being. Fire drills condition terrified school children to respond properly during a fire. Conditioning in flight simulators enables frightened pilots to respond reflexively to emergency situations. And similar application and perfection of basic conditioning techniques increased the rate of fire to approximately 55 percent in Korea and around 95 percent in Vietnam.

Equally high rates of fire resulting from modern conditioning techniques can be seen in Holmes’ observation of British firing rates in the Falklands, and FBI data on law enforcement firing rates since the nationwide introduction of modern conditioning techniques in the late-1960s.

At the end of the Second World War, when our armed forces consisted of a very high ratio of veterans, when our generals, officers, and NCOs had led us through one of the most horrendous wars in history, at this time S.L.A. Marshall’s work was universally accepted. In Korea and Vietnam, Marshall was treated with deepest respect by the men in war, and was asked repeatedly to visit, to study, and to train.

Were all these military leaders wrong? Did Marshall fool all of them, and, today, somehow, a few individuals have discovered ‘The Truth?’ It was only in the 1980s, after Marshall was dead, that a handful of individuals began an attack campaign. None of these people (to my knowledge) still has works in print. In the great realm of ideas, the anti-Marshall camp appears to be ‘out of print.’

On Killing, on the other hand, is on the USMC Commandant’s Required Reading List, and is being used as required reading at the FBI Academy, DEA Academy, West Point, the USAF Academy, and Peace Studies programs and other courses in many colleges. In the realms of criminal justice, psychology, sociology, and peace studies programs, the possible existence of an innate resistance to killing, in most healthy citizens, is widely accepted. A few historians disagree, and I would respectfully submit that they may be operating outside their area of expertise. I can’t help but wonder if S.L.A. Marshall’s true sins were 1) to author numerous popular historical books, while 2) also failing to acquire a Ph.D. in history. Either one of these realities would be guaranteed to draw the fiery pens of academia, and the combination appears to be deadly – but only after the target is safely dead and gone. Marshall’s methodology may not meet rigorous modern standards, but that does not mean he lied. He has been accused of claiming a battlefield commission during the First World War, while he was actually an OCS graduate. But he could well have been assigned in an officer’s position prior to the training. And he claimed to have been in combat with an infantry unit, when actually he was assigned to an engineer battalion; but his unit may have been attached to a line infantry unit.

Perhaps all the combatants, leaders, and veterans of the Second World War, Korea, and Vietnam were wrong about Marshall, or perhaps the handful of men in recent years who have attacked him are wrong. Let us hope our life’s work gets a better hearing when we are dead and gone.

Basically, all S.L.A. Marshall was saying was that some of our warriors (military and police) do not shoot in combat, and more realistic targets will raise the firing rate. Marshall was the pioneer whose research and writing caused us to change from ‘bulls eye’ targets to realistic combat simulations, and who can argue with that? We can disagree as to how much of an advantage it gives us, or exactly how much of an increase in the firing rate this kind of training has created, but, today, no one wants to go back to shooting at ‘bulls eye’ targets. And every time you shoot at a silhouette, a photo-realistic target, or a video training simulator, you should take a moment to remember and thank S.L.A. Marshall.

Today, the body of scientific data supporting realistic training is so powerful that there is a US Federal Circuit Court decision that states that law enforcement firearms training must incorporate realistic training, to include stress, decision-making, and ‘shoot-don’t-shoot’ training. (Oklahoma v. Tuttle, 1984, 10th Federal Circuit Court.) Law enforcement trainers now teach that an agency is not in compliance with legal standards if it fires at anything other than a clear, realistic depiction of a deadly force threat. Again, we have S.L.A. Marshall to thank for that.

Finally, as to Mr. Engen’s finding of high Second World War firing rates among Canadian units, I would say that this is entirely possible. I would refer the reader to David Lee’s excellent book, Up Close and Personal, in which the author finds supporting evidence for low firing rates in many units during the Second World War, but the author also identifies units that pioneered realistic marksmanship training and were thus able to achieve much higher firing rates in battle.



Fenring

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #307 on: August 28, 2016, 03:56:49 AM »
By 1946, the US Army had accepted Marshall’s conclusions, and the Human Resources Research Office of the US Army subsequently pioneered a revolution in combat training which eventually replaced firing at ‘bulls eye’ targets with deeply ingrained ‘conditioning’ using realistic, man-shaped ‘pop-up’ targets that fall when hit. Psychologists know that this kind of powerful ‘operant conditioning’ is the only technique which will reliably influence the primitive, mid-brain processing of a frightened human being.

For my part the only stake I have in this part of the debate is in the claim that the low firing rate (regardless of the actual numbers) can be directly attributed to reflexive empathy (e.g. the lack of desire to shoot another human). And even this is a tangent from the original claim, which is that crime is prevented due to reflexive empathy, which needs have little to do with killing for the most part. I think it's fairly obvious that among all possible crimes murder is one of the least common and the most likely to be averted due to empathy, but this is a very specific case and when viewed in the context of "crime" in general it's surely trivial as a percentage of all crime. Killing in war is even more exceptional than murder in this sense because an act that is supposedly bad is, during war, supposedly good, so the human system will be even more confused. "Frightened human being" may involve empathy in some sense (frightened of breaking their trained morality, for instance) however I think when explosions are happening and bullets are killing your friends there are more pressing things going through a soldier's mind than his concern for the sanctity of the enemy's life.

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Finally, as to Mr. Engen’s finding of high Second World War firing rates among Canadian units, I would say that this is entirely possible. I would refer the reader to David Lee’s excellent book, Up Close and Personal, in which the author finds supporting evidence for low firing rates in many units during the Second World War, but the author also identifies units that pioneered realistic marksmanship training and were thus able to achieve much higher firing rates in battle.


I actually wonder whether the figures they mention might not have something to do with the fact that they were Canadian units. Is it necessarily true that the Canadian forces were as 'aggressive' as the European and even American ones? I could see the logic of soldiers being more willing to fire their guns when it's their own homeland on the line.

TheDeamon

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #308 on: August 28, 2016, 10:29:02 AM »
From what I've read of Engen's work, the Canadian training, in particular during the nearly 4 year ramp up time the infantry had between the Empire declaring war in 39, and operations in Sicily in 43, was they were some of the most highly trained troops going in.

Also, their practice of "battle drill" while being infantry only exercises(not combined arms), sounds eerily similar to training practices in use today. (And did likewise get high marks in the Battle Experience Questionnaire) Of course, that doesn't fully account for combat losses and their replacements seeming to not bring about any notable changes in that regard as the war progressed, with some units having nearly total turnover of personnel before the war concluded.

Some of what Grossman brought up is valid enough, although some of his rationale, and context of the events he cited may be questionable in regards to his case. For our purposes though, they work as possible examples of empathy of one type or another serving to prevent soldiers from killing an enemy soldier they had "dead to rights." 

Although even in those cases, the decision not to shoot "the poor bastard" likely boiled down to

1) The enemy soldier was deemed "not a threat" so "scaring them off" (or ignoring them) was deemed an adequate response.
2) Nobody else was around to call them on it(or were likely agreeable with the decision)
And or
3) "Active combat" was not happening at the time, or was concluding(enemy forces were retreating)

Another possibility also was they didn't want to deal with the hassle of catching the guy and processing them as a (wounded) POW at the time. As the threat he posed didn't warrant killing him, doing that may comprise a war crime, so easier to let him go unharmed. Never underestimate the power of people simply being lazy, particularly if they're (combat) fatigued to start with.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2016, 10:32:00 AM by TheDeamon »

Seriati

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #309 on: August 29, 2016, 12:04:00 PM »
What's interesting to me is this portion of the quote:

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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 weapons at an exposed enemy soldier. Key weapons, such as a flame thrower, usually fired. Crew served weapons, such as a machine gun, almost always fired. And firing would increase greatly if a nearby leader demanded that the soldier fire. But, when left to their own devices, the great majority of individual combatants throughout history appear to have been unable or unwilling to kill.

What's striking is that it's the same rough number as was cited earlier (ie 15-20%), but it's a completely different and very specific circumstance.  I'm not sure it remotely follows from what was said in THAT quote, that 85% of soldiers don't fire or refuse to fire, in fact it certainly does not.  It clearly says the numbers go up if there's a specific order to fire, and where soldiers are manning weapons that have a clear directive (and responsibility) to be offensive minded (ie crew-serviced, and flame throwers).  There's a lot of factors that could prevent people from actually firing in a situation, including but not limited to a collective action problem, especially if they can already hear the fire of the almost 1 in 5 that did fire, along with the heavy weapons fire, or a risk of uncovering or exposing yourself, or even a general confusion about whether your primary responsibility is defensive in a given situation. 

We don't have access to the data, but I'd be really curious how it was compiled.  How many opportunities for such a shot did each soldier actually have?  How many did they really pass up vs. how many did they not react quickly enough on?  How many soldiers could see each target, and of those how many passed it up?  These are based on post battle reports, was there any thought to if more than 20% even had a good opportunity to shoot at an exposed solider without exposing themselves?  or to whether people remember better opportunities than they actually had (never talked to a fisherman who didn't "almost" catch a big one)?

Was there any consideration, which should have been clearly apparent in ammunition use rates over time, as to whether the same 15-20% always shot, or whether it was a different group each time?  Obviously the latter would make it very likely this was about the quality of the opportunity and not about the characteristics of the specific soldier.

And just one follow-on, the rates definitely went up for Vietnam, the quote is for 95%.  But it's not clear that this was the correct thing for them to do.  How many people were shot without needing to be, because reflexive training to shoot at man shaped targets that pop-up without analysis?  Was Vietnam nastier, with more atrocities and unnecessary death than previous wars because of the change in training?
« Last Edit: August 29, 2016, 12:07:00 PM by Seriati »

LetterRip

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #310 on: August 29, 2016, 12:33:06 PM »
Seriati,

major part of the firing rate change for Vietnam (not mentioned by the author) was tactical rather than training.  If there was a sniper attack with surrounding jungle - the response was for everyone to fire into the brush.  There was almost no chance of any particular soldier of hitting the sniper or of seeing the attacker, or of seeing their shot hit the attacker.

TheDeamon

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #311 on: August 29, 2016, 01:09:53 PM »
What's interesting to me is this portion of the quote:

Quote
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 weapons at an exposed enemy soldier. Key weapons, such as a flame thrower, usually fired. Crew served weapons, such as a machine gun, almost always fired. And firing would increase greatly if a nearby leader demanded that the soldier fire. But, when left to their own devices, the great majority of individual combatants throughout history appear to have been unable or unwilling to kill.

What's striking is that it's the same rough number as was cited earlier (ie 15-20%), but it's a completely different and very specific circumstance.  I'm not sure it remotely follows from what was said in THAT quote, that 85% of soldiers don't fire or refuse to fire, in fact it certainly does not.  It clearly says the numbers go up if there's a specific order to fire, and where soldiers are manning weapons that have a clear directive (and responsibility) to be offensive minded (ie crew-serviced, and flame throwers).  There's a lot of factors that could prevent people from actually firing in a situation, including but not limited to a collective action problem, especially if they can already hear the fire of the almost 1 in 5 that did fire, along with the heavy weapons fire, or a risk of uncovering or exposing yourself, or even a general confusion about whether your primary responsibility is defensive in a given situation.

As well as the scenarios I outlined, particularly as the ones I outlined would be the ones where an individual soldier would be most likely to be "left to their own devices" to shoot or not shoot, fire to kill/disable, or fire to scare. Somebody pulling "picket duty" with the closest buddy some number of feet away from them, immediately following a battle they just won, probably would be more inclined to "let an exposed enemy soldier" slip away unmolested if it was clear they were trying to escape the area.

But just because they opted not to shoot that enemy soldier in the above outlined post-battle scenario doesn't mean that during the height or battle that the same soldier pulling picket duty wasn't trying his utmost to kill that soldier they noticed fleeing later that same day.

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We don't have access to the data, but I'd be really curious how it was compiled.  How many opportunities for such a shot did each soldier actually have?  How many did they really pass up vs. how many did they not react quickly enough on?  How many soldiers could see each target, and of those how many passed it up?  These are based on post battle reports, was there any thought to if more than 20% even had a good opportunity to shoot at an exposed solider without exposing themselves?  or to whether people remember better opportunities than they actually had (never talked to a fisherman who didn't "almost" catch a big one)?

Which goes back to the commentary about Marshall's methodology being poor or even nearly non-existant, and no systematic approach having been used on his part. He "made a good effort" in getting things documented as close to the event as practical, but there wasn't any real structure behind what he was doing, or how he did it. Those same soldiers, knowing and understanding the weird and byzantine myriad of "unwritten rules of combat" with full awareness of a propensity to withhold fire on fleeing targets probably were reading other things into Marshall's work that Grossman later missed entirely.

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Was there any consideration, which should have been clearly apparent in ammunition use rates over time, as to whether the same 15-20% always shot, or whether it was a different group each time?  Obviously the latter would make it very likely this was about the quality of the opportunity and not about the characteristics of the specific soldier.

On the part of Marshall, probably not. It may have even been a rather binary "Did you ever withhold fire in ___ circumstance?" In which case, again because of things like post-battle scenarios he may not have envisioned, he was getting affirmative answers and inferring a meaning that wasn't intended by the person who answered in the affirmative. This is "basic survey 101" for people these days. Depending on the interview questions being asked, the answers could mean a lot, or very little. And as Grossman helpfully pointed out, most of Marshall's initial notes seem to have been lost, or are otherwise unavailable. Which raises all kinds of questions regarding methodology. So basically, Marshall's interview outcomes may mean that even in the scenario's I outlined, 15% of soldiers always fired on enemy troops, with 1 to 2% of soldiers always shooting to harm or kill. Or the numbers are much more fluid and some of the troops correctly inferred what Marshall was trying to ask(which we may never be able to learn what the questions were) and answered accordingly, while most others may have answered literally.

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And just one follow-on, the rates definitely went up for Vietnam, the quote is for 95%.  But it's not clear that this was the correct thing for them to do.  How many people were shot without needing to be, because reflexive training to shoot at man shaped targets that pop-up without analysis?  Was Vietnam nastier, with more atrocities and unnecessary death than previous wars because of the change in training?

Vietnam was mostly a gorilla war on the part of the Vietcong, they weren't abiding by the "unwritten gentleman's rules of warfare" in anything close to the same respect as happened in Europe in particular.  As such, the propensity to give quarter when it was viewed that no quarter was going to be given back in return resulted in more soldiers going "f--- it" and went to the "always shoot" option, regardless of what the context may be.

The tactical considerations of that war specifically also come into play. Although I'd probably also agree on quality of shot being a consideration in WW2 when it comes to the quantity of shots fired. While I doubt they were overly concerned about running out of supplies in WW2, resupply was much less of a thing to worry about in Vietnam compared to Vietnam. They could have it airdropped, or flown in by helicopter. Helicopter's didn't exist for all practical purposes(so far as infantry was concerned) during WW2, and precision airdrops of supplies was a perilous undertaking at best. So in that respect, logistics was also likely to be a factor in soldiers being a bit more cautious in their use of ammo during WW2(and before).

For that matter, I understand there were more than a few occasions where U.S. forces in Vietnam became twitchy about their supply situation, even with air superiority and aerial resupply being an available option. Something which wasn't the case in WW2(well, aerial resupply, anyhow).

Seriati

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #312 on: August 29, 2016, 01:50:03 PM »
major part of the firing rate change for Vietnam (not mentioned by the author) was tactical rather than training.  If there was a sniper attack with surrounding jungle - the response was for everyone to fire into the brush.  There was almost no chance of any particular soldier of hitting the sniper or of seeing the attacker, or of seeing their shot hit the attacker.

That's a different scenario than what was reported in the WWII case.  I'm not aware that any kind of empathy stops humans from shooting at trees, even if they suspect there are people in them.  Without the mental picture of the person there's no reason not to shoot.

In any event, you're just highlighting how little we actually know about the statistics on this.  I question whether any group of civilians can make reasonable claims on this.

TheDeamon

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #313 on: August 30, 2016, 03:16:41 PM »
Oh, on logistics, shooting and WW2, IIRC, Engen, in Strangers in Arms actually does have some memos from general staff concerned about the amount of ammunition the Canadian Infantry forces were using, and at least considered taking measures to encourage them to use less ammo. Which would indicate there probably were "quality of shot" considerations being made due to logistical considerations being in play during at least some phases of WW2.

So poorly considered interview questions could result in some "false positives" depending on what you're looking for. They withheld fire to conserve ammo on a poor quality shot, rather than out of reluctance to harm, but being ordered to shoot mitigated that consideration.

TheDeamon

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Re: The shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling
« Reply #314 on: August 30, 2016, 04:04:23 PM »
Quote
Key weapons, such as a flame thrower, usually fired. Crew served weapons, such as a machine gun, almost always fired. And firing would increase greatly if a nearby leader demanded that the soldier fire.

This just occured to me, but this goes back into the "methodology" pile. Machine gun nests were primarily defensive emplacements, in particular I imagine they tended to not normally be "front line" unless it's either an entrenched force vs entrenched force scenario(WW1), or an offensive operation(attack) is underway(so if an enemy soldier is near a defensive machine gunner, they've likely "passed" at least a couple sentries to get there). There were man portable machine guns, and small infantry teams using them, but again, their usage would once again be in a "nest" style defensive use, or in offensive use. Flamethrower use was almost exclusively offensive in nature, although it did see some defensive use as well, but generally speaking, they were under escort, and a flamethrower team on the defensive is in serious trouble for reasons that should be pretty self-evident. (Kaboom)

A number of other weapons likewise fall into that general situation. So in those cases, the choices were rather binary. Either you're in a combat situation, in which case you open up, or you're not, and you are either stood down completely, or you're on standby. The grunt with a rifle however, as we've already covered, deals in a few more "shades of grey" than the others typically do. This would cause a poorly structured interview process to potentially create results that don't match the reality of the situations in play.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2016, 04:07:46 PM by TheDeamon »