70 years ago the Army trained “to kill or be killed,” what happened?


Has our technology given the Army such a superiority on the battlefield that they have lost touch with the “killing spirit” that wins wars?

70 years ago, the Department of the Army taught, “no army ever won a battle without getting its hands dirty.”  Not so long ago we taught young men and women to kill by stabbing bayonets through the hearts of their enemies. In the age of drones and armored vehicles, the army has deemed this training no longer necessary to create a “warrior.”

Not that I ever “fixed bayonet” while deployed in Iraq -the bayonets that deployed with us collected dust in a connex- but I did learn to repeat the mantra of “blood…blood…blood” when my drill sergeant asked me “what makes the green grass grow” during my bayonet training at the U.S. Army’s Infantry School.

It is not hard to notice the difference between terminology today and the casual references to beating, stabbing, bludgeoning, and shooting the enemy in the Army’s training videos from 70 years ago.

The nature of wars have changed and the occurrence of face-to-face killing is less common but does that mean it should be removed from training?

Can we still create warriors with a “thirst for killing” the enemy -that is necessary to keep them alive- while furthering the creation of a military culture of equality and political correctness?

For the last fifteen years of the Global War on Terrorism, warfighters have had to instantly decide whether its time to be a killer or a “baby kisser.”  Is the military leaning towards creating one more than the other? Because our survival will ultimately depend on the “killers.”

The Army’s training film from 1943, titled “Fighting Men: Kill or Be Killed,” sums this sentiment up perfectly.

“When your life and the lives of others depend on you…you do what has to be done. If your instinct says give him a decent chance, remember he wouldn’t give you one. The rules of a lifetime may whisper you can’t get a man when his backs turned but you’re deaf to the rules because IN WAR THERE ARE NO RULES!

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