Friday, January 25, 2013

Military training

I gather that the US military chiefs have a childlike faith in the power of education to mold recruits into paladins in loyal miltary orders. Witness the confession of mistakes in training Malian troops:
Gen Carter Ham of United States Africa Command (Africom) said its forces had failed to train Malian troops on "values, ethics and a military ethos".

If they raised the troops from infancy, they might have a chance at instilling such an ethos, but by the time they were recruited? Hardly.

And of course we learn that women are to be admitted as combat fighters. There will be no macho showing off, or instinctive defense of the women: all will form high performing cohesive units because such is the power of training.

Never mind that the Navy has to airlift out pregnant sailors (15% per year, I'm told). Or that the Israelis, who dare not limit their military capacity, decided that women in combat weren't a great idea. Or that only the extreme tail of the distribution of women are capable of the rigors the male soldiers are required to endure. Or all the worries about unit cohesion when sex enters the picture.

It is possible for the brass to ignore all these things, for such is the power of an idea.

I'm not quite sure whether that powerful idea is the idea that women are the same as men modulo social influences, or the idea that prestige and influence accrue to those who cheerlead whatever is in vogue politically. Neither inspires me with the confidence that our armed forces are led intelligently. Of course I knew that already about leadership at the strategic level. (Michael Yon quoted a Marine who warned others not to re-up for Afghanistan, on the grounds that there was no point in volunteering to fight if we weren't serious about winning.)

I'm not saying we don't train our fighters well. I gather that by and large they perform well and generally behave as well as can be expected. But a sense of proportion is a nice thing to have, and telling the truth is a useful discipline.

You might try to give the benefit of the doubt, and claim that the brass have no choice and must do as they're told or lose support. Perhaps. Perhaps.

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The Israelis know that their army is worse because they are so much a citizen army, but count it as a net gain for the nation to be that involved. Women in combat is the extension of that, and there is even less agreement that's a good idea there. the Israelis, as much as anyone, are primed to see the societal benefits, yet are still not 100% sold.

My understanding is that enlisted women do not desire it so much as officers.