Thursday, May 01, 2008

'On Combat'

by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Loren W. Christensen

If you are in a war, you are a warrior. Is there a war on drugs? Is there a war on crime? Is there a war against terrorism? Are you confronting and containing aggression as a peace officer at home, a peacekeeper in some distant land, or a warrior combating terrorism around the world? Or perhaps you have chosen to be a martial arts practitioner or an armed citizen, seeking to defend yourself or your love ones in their hour of need? Are there people who wake up every morning determined to send you back to your family in a box?

Then you are in a war and you are a warrior.

I picked this up at the library a few days ago, and it’s, to put it mildly, a fascinating book. Too much so for me to go over chapter heads and such and give the idea. I will note the four sections:
Section I: The Physiology of Combat: The Anatomy of the Human Body in Battle
Section II: Perceptual Distortions in Combat: An Altered State of Consciousness
Section III: The Call to Combat: Where Do We Get Such Men?
Section IV: The Price of Combat: After the Smoke Clears

and I’ll give a quote from Section II, on the distortions of sound that occur in- among other things- gunfights:
In Loren Christensen’s book, Crazy Crooks he tells of one documented case in which

One dumb crook became confused when he did not hear his pistol fire. He turned the gun around and peered down the barrel to see if there was an obstruction; it was clear. Dumbfounded as to why it did not go bang, he squinted down the barrel even harder and pulled the trigger again.

Now, THAT’S sound distortion.

They’ve got a previous book you may have heard of, ‘On Killing’, that’s also excellent. Definitely recommended reading for anyone, military, police or just plain citizen, who wants to understand- and prepare for- the stresses of combat. Kevin and a number of others have recommended it, and they're right.


Stephen Renico said...

"Out of every 100 men, 10 should not even be here, 80 are nothing but targets, 9 are real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they the battle make.

Ah, but the one. One of them is a warior, and he will bring the others back."

-Heraclitus 500 BC

Saladman said...

I've read both books and consider them valuable for anybody training in self-defense. I think he's right on just about all of his base facts.

I have a concern, though. It seems to me that the ethos of the policeman as warrior is in direct conflict with the ethos of the police as the public, exemplified in Robert Peel's principles of policing. (

And the same for his idea of sheepdogs, sheep and wolves. I get what he was expressing, and there's a great deal of truth to it. (I'm not so sure there's a hard line between his sheep and sheepdogs when you start considering civilians who provide for their own defense.) But when I hear people talking in the real world now about being a sheepdog, as often as not there's an arrogance or an elitism present that I would not expect to find in someone truly and firmly in the sheepdog category. Specifically including some police officers, unfortunately.

Not sure what to do about it, just something I've been thinking about.