Friday, May 31, 2013

Strengthening the Weak Link in Combat

There is an article in The Age concerning a UN meeting on killer robots. One of the arguments in favour of using killer robots in combat was:

"LARs will not be susceptible to some of the human shortcomings that may undermine the protection of life," his report said. "Typically they would not act out of revenge, panic, anger, spite, prejudice or fear."

In a book that deals with soldier stress and soldier performance, Krueger explains that people on the battlefield haven't changed but the military tactics and technology of waging war have. Consequently, he suggests that the human combatant has been called the 'limiting element' in military systems and are often labelled as the 'weak link' in the harsh environments of battlefields.

Siddle makes a similar comment when suggesting our evolved stress response interfere with modern survival skills such as close quarter combatives, firearms and evasive driving.

When stress inoculation training is discussed in terms of preparing a person for operational experience by the military or law enforcement, training and stress training are often distinguished. To put it simply, training is learning to fire a gun, stress training is learning to fire a gun when someone is firing at you.

Grossman explains how the fire rate at the enemy increased from 20% during WWII, to 55% in Korea, and 95% in Vietnam. What changed? Stress training, albeit not under that name.

I don't like the word 'stress.' The father of stress research, Hans Selye, said that everybody knows what stress is, but nobody really knows. Emotion and stress guru, Richard Lazarus, argues that stress should be considered a subset of emotion. Why? Because the ambiguous and limited concept of stress is actually referring to the emotion of fear-anxiety. If 'stress' has detrimental effects on fighting performance, why not study what the real issue is, emotion.

Many women self defence courses tackle this issue head on - turn fear into anger. Anger reduces inhibitions to aggress, has an action tendency of fight, mobilises the body to fight, and avoids flight, tonic immobility and fainting which are only associated with fear.

Stress inoculation training and stress exposure training for law enforcement and the military would be better served if they focused on emotion. The martial arts is often criticised for not teaching self defence. One of the biggest failings is in not addressing the emotion issue. They are the training methods of WWII when self defence requires the training methods of the Vietnam War.

The last two chapters in my book are unique in integrating the theories of stress, emotion and fight-or-flight to develop a survival process model. This is our evolved mechanism that was selected for in nature because it provided a survival advantage on an individual. All of the methods developed by all activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter are actually interventions in this survival process.

A better understanding of the survival process provides a better understanding of violence generally, whether it be offensive or defensive violence. It has the potential of producing better fighters or those who want to defend themselves simply by an academic understanding of the survival process. This has been demonstrated with respect to stress training whose first stage is informational.

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