Study on Surviving Firefights: Experience Helps

Brill

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I would be interested in your thoughts on the attached paper. Here's a portion that peaked my interest:

Statistical analysis of the firefight data found substantial evidence to support the study’s primary hypothesis. We determined that, on average, mission outcome improves following units’ third firefight and survival rate improves following units’ fourth engagement. In addition, we identified 190 survival factors, casualty factors, and lessons learned from the database of firefight accounts, and 87 factors, skills, and lessons from interviews and correspondence with subject matter experts. Further analysis combined and reduced the results to five categories of skills, knowledge, and behaviors and listed them in order of their contribution to survival during firefights:

Weapons Proficiency,
Situational Awareness,
Tactics and Drills,
Cover and Concealment,
and Leadership/Communications.

Each of the categories is composed of many specific behaviors and skills, which are described in varying detail in the report.
 

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SpitfireV

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Experience makes you better at anything, firefights included. I think the USAF found a similar thing in Vietnam (re the survival rates going up after four engagements), that the survival rate went up after 5 or 10 (I forget) combat sorties. This is why they created Red Flag, to get those out of the way beforehand.
 

Brill

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This concerns me as this is our SOP (too light to fight, too heavy to run):

"Killing and destroying had not yet become routine. Reconnaissance units train to collect information and report it back to combat commanders, who generally oversee most of the destruction. So when the trucks drove over the hill, the teams fell back on their training: instead of firing, they reported what they saw. I listened to meticulous descriptions of the trucks on the radio and wondered why no one at the front was shooting. (One Bullet Away, p. 196)"
 

Etype

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I didn't read it, but just went through all of the tables. The data seems to support our training focuses, which the military is now trying to change with A-Stan tapering down.
 

Etype

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Don't be this guy- see attached. Worst shooting position ever.
 

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HOLLiS

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Yep, I think this topic is very old and have been discussed many times with the same conclusion. "Until you have seen the elephant, you don't know what you are going to do." IIRC was said in the Civil War (US). In Viet-Nam, I believe it to be a Army leg's term, FNG.
 

Hitman2/3

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This concerns me as this is our SOP (too light to fight, too heavy to run):

"Killing and destroying had not yet become routine. Reconnaissance units train to collect information and report it back to combat commanders, who generally oversee most of the destruction. So when the trucks drove over the hill, the teams fell back on their training: instead of firing, they reported what they saw. I listened to meticulous descriptions of the trucks on the radio and wondered why no one at the front was shooting. (One Bullet Away, p. 196)"

This is a very true statement. This was my Platoon, Nate was my Plt Cmdr. Up until the invasion our mission as a Recon Bn was strictly to observe and report, and break contact if necessary. There were a few enemy units that got a pass in the beginning because we were still in the collection mind set instead of the killing mindset. For the first few firefights even though we had superior firepower and support we fell back on our training and proceeded to break contact and then call in an airstrike or arty. Although, those first few firefights were ambushes initiated by the enemy, and we took only a few minor WIA while inflicting heavy enemy casualties. So not sure if I would say we should have done it differently. Ultimately it was the brass using a unit in a completely different way than it was designed trained or equipped to operate. Anyhow before I get too off subject, looking back on it I'd say by our third or fourth fight we had defiantly switched gears and gotten even more deadly. And at that time all of us except our Plt Sgt had never seen combat.
 

max velocity

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Some of the most important factors in initial combat situations are the freeze and denial, as well as being psychologically unprepared to effectively engage the enemy. Training, conditioning and repetition will help to get through this, which is why performance improves as experience is gained. But initial performance can be improved by training and conditioning.
One of the key factors to get through the freeze is experienced leadership, getting vocal and giving loud direction as soon as contact is experienced, to which green troops will respond as they snap out of it and start getting on with what they have been trained to do. Once the inital inaction/freeze is overcome, then if they are well trained the troops should be able to snap into it and get on with it, which is when the other factors such as weapons proficiency come into play.
There is a danger of a non-firing, or ineffective firing response, which is sometimes seen as lack of fire or alternatively seen as volume of fire rather than effectiveness or accuracy of fire. Also, some green units that are "pinned down" are in fact not; they may just lack the leadership and experience to fire and move effectively.
One of the things I noted in Afghanistan was sometimes (not all the time or even most of the time, before I am crucified) what seeemd to me to be over-reliance on CAS of indirect fire support, at the expense of being able to maneuver on the enemy. Now, of course we will use these assets if we have them available to overmatch the enemy and reduce our casualties. However, in some cases it seemed to me that the training of some troops, without the addition of fire support, made them unable or unwilling to maneuver on the enemy. Curiously, this can lead to a situation where it may appear that these coalition troops are not in fact an equal, unit to unit as infantry on the ground, to enemy forces, without the benefit of fire support. A lot of it comes down to poor training, poor quality of personnel (lack of selection) and ineffective leadership. There are no bad soldiers, only bad officers.....
Just saying.
 

SkrewzLoose

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Some of the most important factors in initial combat situations are the freeze and denial, as well as being psychologically unprepared to effectively engage the enemy. Training, conditioning and repetition will help to get through this, which is why performance improves as experience is gained. But initial performance can be improved by training and conditioning.
One of the key factors to get through the freeze is experienced leadership, getting vocal and giving loud direction as soon as contact is experienced, to which green troops will respond as they snap out of it and start getting on with what they have been trained to do. Once the inital inaction/freeze is overcome, then if they are well trained the troops should be able to snap into it and get on with it, which is when the other factors such as weapons proficiency come into play.
There is a danger of a non-firing, or ineffective firing response, which is sometimes seen as lack of fire or alternatively seen as volume of fire rather than effectiveness or accuracy of fire. Also, some green units that are "pinned down" are in fact not; they may just lack the leadership and experience to fire and move effectively.
One of the things I noted in Afghanistan was sometimes (not all the time or even most of the time, before I am crucified) what seeemd to me to be over-reliance on CAS of indirect fire support, at the expense of being able to maneuver on the enemy. Now, of course we will use these assets if we have them available to overmatch the enemy and reduce our casualties. However, in some cases it seemed to me that the training of some troops, without the addition of fire support, made them unable or unwilling to maneuver on the enemy. Curiously, this can lead to a situation where it may appear that these coalition troops are not in fact an equal, unit to unit as infantry on the ground, to enemy forces, without the benefit of fire support. A lot of it comes down to poor training, poor quality of personnel (lack of selection) and ineffective leadership. There are no bad soldiers, only bad officers.....
Just saying.
In reference to the bold, that's like saying, "there are no bad employees, only bad managers". Is that a tongue-in-cheek statement?
 

max velocity

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Ok, you called me out. I just threw that in there. Of course it is not true, there can be bad soldiers with good officers etc. So yes, a little tongue in cheek, but my point in the context of the post is that sometimes a combat situation is not as bad as it appears, if leadership (official or spur of the moment natural type) will just retrieve head from sand and start issuing instructions. Once positive movement can be started, things tend to get better. In my opinion, and I am by no means the authority on this, this kind af action leadership is what gets the new guys through the first few times. Unfortunately, some of those (not all, or even most...) that are put in positions of leadership are not trained or selected as suitable to be in those positions.
 

SkrewzLoose

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Ok, you called me out. I just threw that in there. Of course it is not true, there can be bad soldiers with good officers etc. So yes, a little tongue in cheek, but my point in the context of the post is that sometimes a combat situation is not as bad as it appears, if leadership (official or spur of the moment natural type) will just retrieve head from sand and start issuing instructions. Once positive movement can be started, things tend to get better. In my opinion, and I am by no means the authority on this, this kind af action leadership is what gets the new guys through the first few times. Unfortunately, some of those (not all, or even most...) that are put in positions of leadership are not trained or selected as suitable to be in those positions.
Could not agree more! :thumbsup:
 

Teufel

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A quick dose of violence and aggression will solve most tactical problems if it is rooted in sound training and discipline.
 
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