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Here's What Soldiers Feel And Think During Combat
Heart pounding. Fear. Tunnel vision.
These are just a few of the physical and emotional responses soldiers reported upon their first combat experience.
Sure, there are hundreds of books, movies, and other multimedia that can give a sense of what it's like to be shot at, bombed, or rocketed. Then there are the stories a soldier or Marine may be told by a senior leader on "what it's really like."
But there's also some hard data, thanks to a recent study carried out by Aaron Bazin at West Point's Modern War Institute. Bazin polled 304 military veterans, spanning from Vietnam to present day, on their experience in a "combat situation," which he defined as "any event where the person’s life was put at risk in direct contact with an enemy force (e.g., shooting, bombing, indirect fire, etc.)."
Not surprisingly, the most-reported physical response was an increase in heart rate. Also reported were rapid breathing, muscle tension, and tunnel vision. These changes in the body are well documented as part of the so-called "fight or flight response."
I found the questions regarding emotional response much more enlightening. While anticipation was the one emotion most experienced by soldiers before combat, upwards of 30% reported fear before and during combat, blowing apart a macho myth that you're not supposed to ever be scared during battle.
An overwhelming number of veterans said they "didn't think" and just acted during combat — giving a positive nod to their training beforehand. Indeed, the majority of respondents said their training prepared them very well or somewhat well for combat duty (91.5%).
"Simply put, once a service member knows battle first hand and survives, he or she will likely never be the same again," Bazin writes. "The fact remains, the more new service members can learn from the experiences of those that have gone before them, the better they can prepare themselves for what may lie ahead."
Check out his full report at MWI.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that no U.S. troops will take part in enforcing the so-called safe zone in northern Syria and the United States "is continuing our deliberate withdrawal from northeastern Syria."
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Friday said Turkey will set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, insisting that a planned "safe zone" will extend much further than U.S. officials said was covered under a fragile ceasefire deal.
On Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference, Army families had the opportunity to tell senior leaders exactly what was going on in their worlds — an opportunity that is, unfortunately, all too rare.
A new documentary series about Clint Lorance pits the infantry officer convicted of murder against his former soldiers
The fog of war, just kills, and war crimes are the focus of a new documentary series coming to STARZ. Titled Leavenworth, the five-part series profiles 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, the Army infantry officer who was convicted on murder charges for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding the third, while deployed to the Zhari district in Kandahar province, on July 2, 2012.
A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).
But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.
Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.
The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.
The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.
"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.
The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.