Traditions and training

I wrote this up as a response affirming and adding to a article I saw.  If it was worth saying elsewhere, it is worth repeating here.

Years ago, I used to read a site made by a former Army Ranger that had a great deal of good advice on it.  But I remember they had written that Night  Vision shouldn’t be used.  That was said because the guy writing it had only used the first gen NV that required IR illumination to work.  Using it let anyone else with NV instantly know where you are.  He was giving good advice for the equipment he was familiar with, but not modern equipment. 

While I was in, our training was focused on teaching us howto win a conventional war.  When we deployed, we did a sort of bastardized combo of policing action, urban warfare,and counter insurgency.  I remember some of the new guys complaining that all the training they had received (for conventional warfare) was a waste of time. I’d try to explain to them that what they were doing was build on those same principles. 

We are left with two issues.

First is that when something works for someone, they can be left believing that it is the only way and/or the best to deal with a problem.  It is discussed with law enforcement that when a cop often successfully does something in one high stress event, they will often try to default to it later.  Let’s say a cop was in a situation where they were justified in the use of lethal force,but they manage to talk the bad guy down, they may be hesitant to use force next time and try to talk to the bad guy in a situation where it wouldn’t work.  Or the other way around.  The soldier that charges the enemy machine gun position and survives might tend to think it easier than it normally is.  When we learn from other people, we need to keep in mind that what worked for them with their situation and tools might not be ideal for us. 

The other issue is that people often blindly follow advice without knowing the reasons behind it.  While I was in there was all manner of stupid stuff we did because it was cherished traditions of the Corps.  For example, we were not allowed to put our hands in our pockets.  Later I learned it was because a century ago it was considered that only effeminate men put their hands in their pockets.  Because some long dead guy had some bias, we were all standing around in the snow sticking our hands in our belt line.  Yea, I’m sure that looks oh so much more professional.  I like that silly example better than the stupid things we did in combat, as those were truly infuriating.

If you know the reasons and reasoning behind a piece of advice,you can better understand if and when it would work for you.  Don’t be like the classic example of the martial artist that makes his fist with a finger extended, not knowing that technique came from an instructor who couldn’t bend an injured finger.

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