Soldiers are not allowed to think

Discussion in 'All Other Discussions' started by Crabtownboy, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    ‘Why in Gods name don’t you think’, bawled one of the members of the commission.

    ‘Humbly report, I don’t think because it’s forbidden to soldiers to think on duty. When I was in the 91st regiment some years ago our captains always used to say: A soldier mustn’t think for himself. His superiors do it for him.’


    ― Jaroslav Hašek, The Good Soldier Švejk
     
  2. Salty

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    We might say that in jest - but a GI is expected to think for himself.

    In fact saying "I was ordered to do it" may not be a defense all the time.
    For example - if a commander orders you to kill a non-combanant civillian - that is not a legal order -and you could be court-martial for following thur on such an illegal order.

    In fact in the modern Army - education is highly reccomended and additional education is required or at a minium virtualy necessary for promotion.

    Gone are the days of the 20 year private who simply follows orders blindly.

    Sgt Salty

    DISCLAMER: I cannot speak for the Marines :smilewinkgrin:
     
  3. Crabtownboy

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    Salty,

    The Good Soldier Švejk, is a book about a Czech soldier in the World War I era. I do not think it is a well known book here. I found it a most interesting read. There is another quote I will put up that may rattle a few folk. But a discerning person will take into consideration the era, the war, the history of Eastern Europe, and the senseless slaughter of trench warfare ... as well as the idiocy of some of the generals. For instance, there was an English general, old school, who never believed a machine gun could stop men on horses. Not only that, he would not believe the conditions in the trenches. He never visited the front. His stubborn ignorance cost thousands their lives not to mentioned the wounded
     
  4. prophet

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    Thanks, G.I.Joe, and Semper Fi!
     
  5. ktn4eg

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    The ability operate and maintain the technically intricate weapons platforms of today's military (regardless of which branch of it) is a vital necessity of all of our men and women who wear the uniform of this nation.

    Long gone are the days when a person with minimal education could merely show up at some recruiter's office and expect to be sworn in as a member of the armed forces.

    If you don't believe me, just try acing the ASVAB examination the very first time it is administered in our schools.

    And that is just one's "entrance exam"!!

    After I enlisted in the Tennessee Air National Guard, I had to spend about 8 months of additional technical training, and then some 3 more months of OJT. Then after that I had to spend another 5 months of advanced training just to be promoted to my next higher enlisted rank.

    That was my experience, and I am sure that most any other person who enlisted in our military would tell you that was fairly close to their experience as well.
     
  6. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Good thing. :laugh:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Jon-Marc

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    Unless the military has changed since I was in several decades ago, you do what you're told by your superiors and don't question the orders. I worked at a VA Medical Center as a civilian for nearly 30 years, and it was the same way there; you did what you were told. You were told that you if you didn't like what you were told to do that they had a paper you could sign to terminate your employment.

    I put up with a lot of cr-p there, but I stuck with it and retired just 16 days short of being 57, with 35 1/2 years--counting my military time. I'm not living high, but I also don't have to work to survive as a lot of retired people do. To me, being retired means you no longer HAVE to work--unless you choose to do so.
     
  8. Crabtownboy

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    Jon, I believe you have touched on the crux of the quote. Sure, people have to be smart enough to use modern equipment, much of which is complicated.

    But still, even in our current time, orders are not to be questioned. You do what you are told. Yes, you can refuse to obey an order that you believe is illegal, but you do this at great peril to yourself and your future. In fact, in a battle zone you may well be shot if you refuse an order. Soldiers are not to think too much about ethics, morally, philosophically or theological. Don't think, obey orders is the golden rule.

    Jon, I expect some irate replies from folk who have never been in the military.
     
  9. Sapper Woody

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    I wouldn't call this an irate response. But I do disagree wholeheartedly. Mundane or everyday orders are not to be questioned. If I tell a Joe to sweep a parking lot, he'd better do it without argument or question.

    But, if I tell a Joe to open fire on civilians, he'd better not do it. In fact, he's required to turn me in for that order.

    Now, there are combat judgment calls in which a soldier has to trust my judgment. If I tell him to open fire on a suspicious target, he has to do it, even if he doesn't know why. Maybe I saw something he didn't. In this case, "I was ordered to" is a defense, and it falls on me if I made the wrong call.

    In today's military, soldiers need to think more than ever. The enemy isn't readily apparent, and the soldier is given guidelines to follow. The soldier has to be able to discern for himself between threatening and non threatening. Because most of the weight falls on him in judgment.
     
  10. Crabtownboy

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    You are right.

    This would be a judgement call on his part and even if he is correct he may have to pay a huge price for disobeying the order. Turning you in would bring about an investigation. If he is backed up by others in his outfit he probably would get off without brig time. However, he would have a mark against him as far as any other commanding officers are concerned. This may not be right, but it is the way the world works. The whistle blower often pays a huge price even when they are right and backed up.

    You are right, but again it is a judgement call.

    And often those are very tough calls to make.

    Thanks for your reply Sapper.
     
  11. Sapper Woody

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    Unfortunately, what you said is kind of true, although I believe it is getting better. Firstly, the Army (can't speak for other branches) is getting better for "whistle blowers". They are better at retaining privacy for the whole investigation than they used to be, and will move soldiers if need be. Any specifics about what is going on need not be addressed by the new command, unless the soldier wants it to be.

    Secondly, and this is sad in most cases, but good in this case, there is a distrust between the officers and NCO corp. This leads to both taking the side of the soldier over the other. Meaning that a command will believe the NCO was at fault before blaming the soldier.

    Lastly, once the soldier is moved, he has access to the smith file, meaning he can remove any trace of any investigation, and start clean at his new unit. Some would argue that this is unethical, but that's for another thread.

    So, it's not nearly as bad as it used to be, although I'll admit that it's not as good as it could/should be.

    Hopefully, with the Army's current drawdown, the "move up or move out" policy, and the "keep the best, lose the rest" policy, the caliber of soldier, NCO, and officer alike will improve. This will hopefully minimize any situation like this in the first place.
     
  12. Don

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    CTB -- since you said that you expect irate replies from non-military; please remind us of your military experience.

    Today's military has more than just new-fangled equipment they have to deal with; they have policies and other guidelines that require them to think about a situation before they can react to it; they have children that sometimes require split-second decisions as to whether the child is a combatant or non-combatant; they have an enemy that doesn'r wear traditional uniforms; and we have politicians and a society that would rather we use drones than on-the-spot decision-making humans.

    While there are still similarities, there is a vast difference between today's soldier and our WWI predecessors.
     
  13. Crabtownboy

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    I was in the Army, 1960-62. Spent most of that time with the 97th Signal in Germany. We ran the communications center for 7th Army. There were really bright fellows ... no women at that time ... in the battalion who did think. But the type of orders we received did not involved communications. It was highly unlikely that we would have seen combat. If so it would have meant the front had been totally run over.


    I agree and said people need to be intelligent enough to operate sophisticated equipment.

    I must say I do not know how complicated equipment is that an average GI in the infantry uses. I may be wrong, but I doubt the Army wants people in the infantry who do a lot of philosophical thinking or who ask a lot of questions. When an order is given a fast response is desired. A "let me think about this" would be totally unacceptable IMHO. I doubt that has changed since I was in the Army.
     
  14. Sapper Woody

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    As far as intelligence, or "book learnin'", the Army looks favorably on it. Because of my test scores, I've had the opportunity to learn several computer systems and how to fly the two smallest unmanned aerial vehicles we have, in addition to attending several MOS specific specialty schools that provided promotion points. It really is a boon. Especially when I'm trying to teach my joes demo calc. Some get it, some don't.

    You're right that there isn't room for "let me think about this" normally. Although I've let my joes know that it's OK to speak up if they think they have a better idea. And sometimes they do. I just let them know that they need to give me their idea while acting on the order. In other words, "do it my way, then tell me how to do it better."

    But in a combat situation, the hope is that they are so ingrained with what is right that they will recognize wrong immediately. If they have to stop and think, people could end up dead.

    I am not necessarily disagreeing with you, but there is a time to obey, and a time to realize that it's not a lawful order.
     
  15. Don

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    Thanks; I was pretty sure that I'd seen you mention it before.

    You'll note that I addressed this statement by indicating that it's not just the sophisticated equipment that requires intelligence; it's the adherence to the "rules of engagement" that also requires a higher degree of discernment than simple combat.

    As Woody has pointed out, things have changed.

    My first AFSC (MOS for your ground-pounder types) was Security Specialist; I like to refer to it as "over-glorified security guard", but it was more than just that. The Air Force used to have two career fields when it came to security: Law Enforcement and SS. The LE guys were the base gate guards and ticket-writers; we SS pukes were the "special weapons" guards and "ground forces" for the AF. We had responsibility for the land mass up to five miles outside the base perimeter; after that, it was the Army's responsibility.

    So I'm familiar with what you keep trying to say. When I was in a "protect the base" situation, I either followed orders, or I expected them to be followed. But at the same time, I was *required* to evaluate those orders. For example, if someone was driving a vehicle toward the entry control point for some of those "special weapons," and my immediate supervisor (NCO or officer) ordered me to fire on that vehicle, it was my duty and responsibility to tell him or her "No, that's an unlawful order." (if necessary, I can explain why) I was trained that I could not shoot unless intent, opportunity, and capability were all three present; and I was trained to be able to identify those three characteristics and make my decision almost instantly. That's not just blindly following orders; that's actual critical thinking. Whereas I was trained in a 3-step process, all Air Force "Force Protection" troops (as they're called now) are actually trained in an "escalation of force" process that requires 7 or more steps be evaluated before being able to justify pulling the trigger.

    Woody's more familiar with these situations; but my training and orders for Iraq and Afghanistan were similar. If a vehicle was approaching my entry control point in those countries, and I was ordered to fire upon the vehicle, I was required to remind my supervisor that we had an escalation of force directive that prevented me from immediately firing upon the vehicle. Consider it a check-and-balance; the enlisted, NCOs, and officers all went through the same training, and were aware of the escalation of force requirements. This was intended to keep someone from "shooting from the hip" and ensuring that we prevented civilian casualties as much as possible.

    These are just small examples. So there is a LOT of thinking required of our young men and women, and they're required to do it in split seconds.
     
  16. Melanie

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    Well, I know the British shot soldiers who did not obey orders....probably other allies did as well. WW1 was stunning in its stupidity....the soldiers really should have shot the brass hats in quite a number of places.

    WW2 had stunning stupidity and no doubt every other war....which I guess is an oxymoron as war is by definition stupid.

    Criminal orders are criminal, doubly so if you are caught out....with modern technology and almost instant communications it is more difficult to hide, but whistle blowing is always difficult.
     
  17. Melanie

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    These are just small examples. So there is a LOT of thinking required of our young men and women, and they're required to do it in split seconds. ( from Don)


    That is the clincher I think....a fire fight and soldiers needing to make split second decisions.....which may be on top of seeing a comrade blown to bits, a child being used as a decoy, lack of sleep, food etc ALL playing a part.....
     
  18. Sapper Woody

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    Playing a part of what?
     
  19. Melanie

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    of the soldier having to make split second decision.

    Thank God I have never been in a war zone in ANY capacity, but as an ICU nurse I was required to make very rapid evaluations at times with a life at stake....being tired, hungry, stressed etc DO impact upon decision making which was mitigated by protocols, experience and foresight.
     
  20. Don

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    Sun Tzu, 544-496 BC: “If the instructions are not clear, if the orders are not obeyed, it is the fault of the general. But if the instructions are clear and the soldiers still do not obey, it is the fault of their officers.”

    King Ho-lú wanted a demonstration of Sun Tzu’s theories in action to see their effectiveness. So the King’s concubines, some 300 women, were summoned and divided into two companies. Sun Tzu placed one of the King’s two favorite concubines in charge of each and gave the women armor and weapons while explaining a set of drills he wished them to perform.

    After Sun Tzu had shown them what he wished to be done he then ordered the King’s favorite concubines to lead their companies in performing the maneuvers. This almost predictably led to laughs from the concubines who did not believe him to be serious. They were, after all, not warriors. Sun Tzu then repeated his orders but again the concubines laughed and failed to heed.

    This is when he uttered the quote (above), summoned the executioner and had the King’s favorite concubines beheaded. Perhaps Sun Tzu would have lost his own head as well due to an angry King Ho-lú except for the predictable result that ensued. Sun Tzu brought forth two more concubines, placed one in charge of each company and then he again ordered the drill completed. This time the remaining concubines performed the exercise flawlessly.

    More: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2252803/posts

    And you think WWI was brutal?
     

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