04 July 2012

Inoculated to Kill

On Killing by LtCol Dave Grossman, 2009, Excerpts

Instead of lying prone on a grassy field calmly shooting at a bull’s-eye target, the modern soldier spends many hours standing in a foxhole or crouching behind cover, with full combat equipment draped about his body, looking over an area of lightly wooded rolling terrain. At periodic intervals one or two olive-drab, man shaped targets at varying ranges will pop up in front of him for a brief time, and the soldier must instantly aim and shoot at the target[s]. When he hits a target it provides immediate feedback by instantly and very satisfyingly dropping backward – just as a living target would. Every aspect of killing on the battlefield is rehearsed, visualized, and conditioned.  After training on rifle ranges in this manner, an automatic, conditioned response called automaticity sets in, and the soldier then becomes conditioned to respond to the appropriate stimulus in the desired manner.

The inoculation process in most military schools is specifically oriented towards hate. By understanding the role of hate on the battlefield, we understand the military value of what armies have done for so long and some of the processes by which they have enabled the soldier to physically and psychologically survive on the battlefield.

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