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Thread: Infantry Experiments: Who makes the best soldiers?

  1. #1
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    Default Infantry Experiments: Who makes the best soldiers?

    I was once told by a colleague (while in the Army) that the British Army conducted experiments during WWII to test what made the most combat effective unit of soldiers. Among the findings: Criminals and street toughs made the worst, because despite their often violent natures they tended to be the first to quit or desert when the fighting got rough. While, conversely, the better educated the soldiers, the more combat effective the unit. Because the men were presumably more ideologically motivated and could out think their opponents.

    I've never looked into this formally, does anyone have any info on this?

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    educated men tended to be skimmed off into jobs where their abilities could be used (combat engineers, for instance)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mk VII View Post
    educated men tended to be skimmed off into jobs where their abilities could be used (combat engineers, for instance)
    Oh I know. The thread's premise is that I think there were exceptions made, for purposes of a study.

    I was just interested if anyone else had heard of this?

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    There was a battalion of criminals in finnish army. They fought well - after the "immoral" part of the unit escaped/defected and only the hardened ones were left.
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    Default Best Soldiers

    In his book 'The Jungle Is Neutral' about Stay-Behind Forces, in Malaya, during the Japanese invasion and occupation, Spencer Chapman comments on how the Other Ranks had not the propensity for survival that the officers had and soon gave in to despair at their conditions and perished. On the other hand, the officer classes were generally better able to deal with the psychological stress of disease, isolation and the ever fear of discovery by the enemy etc.

    In the novel 'Regeration' set in WW1 Pat Barker describes how soldiers suffering from 'Battle Shock' become mute, but officers never suffer this symptom, apart from one of the main characters of the book that happens to be from a working class background.

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    I am not sure if it was Hart or Fuller who said it but they wanted the better educated soldiers in armoured regiments. But as the RAF got the pick of the bunch they had little choice. The way they got around it was to form the Guards armoured as the Guards could pick its soldiers.

    Although I understand the concept, I have known some excellent soldiers who if they had not joined (join or jail at an early age) the army would have spent a lot of time at Her Majesties pleasure. Most criminals have a jack attitude, what’s good for me, the regimental system produces a soldier who has very strong bonds with the others around them and this can overcome background.
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    Default Leadership

    Perhaps if the question was framed around 'Better Leaders' and 'Better Soldiers'? By recognising that there is a difference between the two.
    Some very excellent soldiers may shy away from becoming leaders.

    Can it be that a unit commander leading his men in combat is less aware of his fear because he is so busy dealing with his responsibilites i.e. leading his men effectively and achieving his mission? The men, on the other hand, have plenty of time to focus on their fears. I think someone already mentioned motivation, it can't be ignored.

    One officer I once new, serving with a Cumbrian regiment, commented that countrymen make the better soldiers as they are at one with the countryside. Another one from a different regiment swore that, in his regiment, the men from the back streets of Manchester and Salford made the better soldiers, as they were used to sneaking about at night stealing lead from the rooftops of wharehouses, churches and the like..."..excellent training for night patrolling!.."
    Another one once told me that the men of the Durham Light Infantry were the better soldiers as they were usually ex-miners and were tough, gritty and accustomed to being in deadly situations.

    All sweeping generalisations.

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    Good soldiers who do what they are told.
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    Bottom line?.....the best soldiers are those which are the better trained and the better led!

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    Training.

    That is what makes the difference.

    Almost 99.9% of recruits if properly trained (not to mention well trained) will make exceptional soldiers.

    However few armies have the time or resources to individually train soldiers to their individual requirements.

    The best system I can think of was the old British Army Depot system. The infantry regiment, selected from it's catchment area and trained those men as they wished, to an extent. The new, one way for all, doesn't quite work as well IMH.

    This is the reason why you can look at units and gauge them with sterio types. The training/indoctrination now occurs at regimental/battalion level. Those that don't fit in, or accept the methods usually leave the forces/battalion.
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    Default Rugby

    Let's not forget team sports. They encourage competiitve rivalry, and esprit de corps, which in turn raises standards and levels of fitness. Rugby requires and produces: tactical thinking and planning; good communication, coordination, inspirational leadership and trains the individual to play their tactical position as a part of a wider formation. Also, with a game such as Rugby, it conditions ones ability to be able to take a physical battering (and stick with it), and to get used to the idea that the opposition have their plan and will do their utmost to spoil ones own. It is, of course, very sporting and does not necessarily have to condition a man into becoming a brute to turn him into a better soldier.

    Team games also highlight the importance of training in developing and refining individual and team skills, and creative thought.

    I know that Armies other than those that play Rugby have their own games ( which are almost as effective), but for me Rugby is the ideal game for balancing a little recreation time with soldier-skills.
    Last edited by 32Bravo; 02-11-2007 at 07:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1000ydstare
    Training.

    That is what makes the difference.

    Almost 99.9% of recruits if properly trained (not to mention well trained) will make exceptional soldiers.

    However few armies have the time or resources to individually train soldiers to their individual requirements.

    The best system I can think of was the old British Army Depot system. The infantry regiment, selected from it's catchment area and trained those men as they wished, to an extent. The new, one way for all, doesn't quite work as well IMH.

    This is the reason why you can look at units and gauge them with sterio types. The training/indoctrination now occurs at regimental/battalion level. Those that don't fit in, or accept the methods usually leave the forces/battalion.

    Ain't that the truth !
    While not wishing to denigrate the actions of fine soldiers more recently trained, Regtl Depots invariably produced a better standard of soldier than ATRs.
    By which I mean that the sldr arriving from a Depot was able to slot into a section with far more ease than those we now receive who tend to need further trg, (even if it is only Regtl SOPs,) when they arrive at Bn.

    Regts would send their best NCOs to Depot to ensure a high std of new sldrs, whereas ATRs train to a (minimum) level.

    Whilst not from a county regt myself, I deplored the loss of family which was one of the most forseeable results of the cost-cutting idea behind ATRs. New recruits used to realise that there would be relatives or at least people they knew from their home town at both Depot & Bn, and the moral pressure of not letting oneself or one's family down was a contributing factor for them to strive for the highest standards possible.

    Once again politicos cut the effectiveness of the forces knowing full well that when metal meets muscle the British squaddie will dig deeper to ensure the cake & arse jobs they allocate to us are accomplished regardless of this artificial adversity.
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    Soldiers who joined off there own back made the better soldiers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pottsy View Post
    Soldiers who joined off there own back made the better soldiers.
    Could you back that statement up ?

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    soldiers who joined on there own accored make the better soldiers , they train harder faster and better then those that are there simply because they were told there going to join , rather then those who chose to do so , if you want it , you will go for it .

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