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that killer instinct

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:26 am
by civiliansheepdog
I'm just curious on the mentality of "killing" or taking a person's life out in the field or doing your duty. For example, if an operative had to take out an enemy quietly with a knife. How does that operative feel about that knife going through that enemy, piercing the skin into vital organs or arteries, seeing the flesh being ripped through, etc. For some reason I've always get that "blah" feeling if I see a sharp object going through something like a flesh, but if I had to slash something it's not so much as a blah feeling. Just been curious.

My dad used to be a Navy Seal and I asked him about that question and he said, they trained to a point where it just becomes a blur to say.

Re: that killer instinct

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:40 pm
by Ryan
Firstly - great question, you really are a sheepdog. Keep it up.

Looking through a scope at a hazy figure 800 meters away is different from holding a knife to flesh and making that skin-on-skin contact or perceived skin-on-skin contact, as you are operating the sharp instrument that makes the contact. A lot of psychological disincentives, whether they are visual, through touch or even smell; it encompasses all our senses, begin to delineate what COULD prevent an action. As defined a disincentive is something that "prevents or discourages action; a deterrent."

If we throw this the other way around, what MAKES us do something we can learn that in groups it is easier to kill. If we are a Section in line formation throwing down a heap of fire and one of us happen to hit somebody then that is a shared experience and shared responsibility. If a Commanding Officer tells us to specifically engage a "target" (Yes, calling a human target is another incentive to lessen the human-link) then we are more likely to do so with less responsibility or at least less of an instinctive nature to reflect with negative feelings and so forth.

Our population through the years has developed from a society of people who would physically take another step not to kill, to a society who can and will as a general rule of thumb in open conflict. In WW1/2 they noted that many soldiers, from all kinds of backgrounds, experiences and groups would purposefully miss or not engage "enemy targets" - as soldiers and conscripts would years later in Vietnam; notably shooting OVER the target on purpose.

What causes and influences humans to kill in combat is the study of killology, as you have probably heard of if you have ever studied into any research or writings by Lt. Col. (Ret.) David Grossman. The study itself is quite complex, it encompasses a range of sciences and health elements; as well as environmental, political and military factors just to name a few. It also drives the holistic aspect of combat effects, being " psychological and physiological effects of combat" on human beings, and how we can drive - consistently be the pushing force - to improve the rates of which soldiers effectively do their responsibilities such as killing in combat.

The complex character of warfare and the purpose of killing is forever changing due to the political and geographical landscape of the subject of warfare. "ROE" is a mountain to climb, and to get the hang of. Do you think ROE would count in a non-urban area with a very low population density? Hardly. Or if it was two conventional forces butting heads? Heck no. We see it everyday, shelling towns full of civilians and engagements in streets where people walk. Not everybody lives by our rules, some who do are very selective on the said rule.

Personally my thoughts have known to divulge into "living by no rule" which in certain circumstance works, but in others not so much. If you have a confirmed target in front of you, engage. If you have to have a decision-process then that may inhibit engagement, or at least slow it. Therefore it is important to have a fast observation-come-decision process BUT if I was operating against a confirmed target, with no chance - zip - of others being around then I would be on the trigger first before I thought about the consequence, would that make me a better shooter? Ask yourself - would it make you a better operator? Yes and no always come up because engagements are a personal act, governed by not only what some may think as tactics, SOPs and ROEs but also our sensory experience. If I'm in a cave system where I can hear their heavy breathing then I'm putting in the grenade, and pieing with my finger ON the trigger. If I'm in a village, I'm off the trigger and a thinker. Thinking before shooting is usually, and I would agree with conventionally, the way to operate.

By sensory experience I may mean a Rookie partner on the job, jumping the trigger in a situation where he gets a shock. I may mean an experienced operator purposefully skipping the process because his feelings, his gut, his experience tells him it is tactically sound to do so - for example saving those valuable seconds in that unique situation. See Empiricism; self-directed knowledge and perception placed in that real-time situation.

The sheepdog mentality envelopes this - it promotes us destroying that of which opposes our values, our morality, those of which is the EVIL and we are the good. We are the sheepdogs, forming the path for others - those that obstruct our path must be dealt with in a problematic fashion in combat that usually involves squeezing the trigger. But again, as thinkers, as sheepdogs depicting this better example to others there are ALWAYS more solutions. An example in Iraq was a production factory that dealt with metals and was linked to being a possible NBC/R site in which the SASR was to disable. To do this they had multiple options, and a level headed Commander who decided explosives and/or a firefight was not that option at present. They called an airplane overhead, flying by at supersonic speed breaking ALL the windows and even dislodging hinges within the building. The next thing they noticed? A white flag sticking out the window. The Iraqi defenders gave themselves up.

You'll note the opposite in some group examples. The sheepdog approach tends to be one in a leadership position, setting an example but as a group you tend to see more devious notabilities. Imagine six ecstatic Recon Marines in one room, discussing war and killing. "I would fucking punch his throat in, man, and fucking bite off his face", "OK - So what would you rather use: A baseball bat or a knife?". Some people cannot cope with even the reference to violence, it is something that the military does well. Violence is apart of life, sometimes daily, for our Armed Forces and therefore you must present yourself a different viewpoint, firstly starting by being open to violence and appreciative of what it offers us. For the soldier, it offers them life over death.

The Samurai, who were serving their Lord through political orientation come job foundation, were sometimes, at individual level, known to purposely avoid battle. It was a custom to bring the Lord a head of the first enemy killed in action and to collect your "war trophies". Some Samurais who did NOT fight did this by cutting off the head of a dead combatant on the side-lines then running back to his Lord. So that leaves us with a general appreciation of how a sense of purpose can influence killology.

Now, purpose proposed as a deep relation, I offer you another concept. Displacement. If we displace ourselves from the reality of the situation or correlate it with another segment of the broader happening then we can, in theory, be more efficient at what we do. Some put themselves in another place in their head, a sandy beach - during training especially... Well, the same principle applies. For instance using human-silhouettes for targets or practicing treating a gun-wound on a live dog.

The next key element is emotion, specifically aggression. Aggression leads us to make snap-decision, or decisions that would before be emotionally difficult with more ease.

In terms of your Dads training, who knows what they taught specifically but it would be quite obvious externally that it would be modeled around the... theater and what is asked of them. We have a number of Navy SEALs on this forum who probably won't chip in due to OPSEC but they are trained for SUT - Small Unit Tactics - where they as individuals HAVE to be prepared. This why some adopt a predatory mindset, comparing themselves to that of a Wolf and their brothers the Wolfpack.

I can't keep going on, this is too big!

Re: that killer instinct

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:52 pm
by jimothy_183
If you want to know more just look up Dave Grossman on google, youtube and amazon. A whole heap of research has already been done for you to read. :wink:

Re: that killer instinct

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:46 pm
by civiliansheepdog
jimothy_183 and ryan thanks for the response. I read the whole post and it makes sense and good key points, but I'll re-read once I get back from school hahah. I'll definitely look on that book by Lt. Dave Grossman too. Ryan and jimothy_183, have you ever been in that situation? Details aren't necessary if it's sensitive.

Re: that killer instinct

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:09 pm
by Ryan
No I'm civ paramedic, I've been in the opposite of saving the life or dealing with unfortunate death. I suppose it involves similar topics of emotion suppression, dealing with the job, etc.

Re: that killer instinct

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:38 am
by civiliansheepdog
I re-read your post, ryan, and you mentioned about the "target" instead of human, it makes sense that if a commanding officer or your "boss" said engage that target, than in your mind it may be justified because you're doing your job and it's something you got to accomplish. But yes I can see where you're going. I guess this weekend I'll be getting that "On Killing" book.

Re: that killer instinct

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:05 am
by tacticalguy
"Killing another living being is a strange and wondrous feeling." I've always felt that the killings of other beings, whether they be sentient human beings or what humans regard as dumb animals, are divided into categories. First, killing for food, to satisfy hunger. Second, killing for the "sport", to be able to look down at that formerly live being and say, "I did this, I AM powerful!" Last, is what we humans regard as a "necessary" killing. I've seen all three expressed towards both animals and man. In the "arena" that we choose to study in, you will see a lot of the second category, some of the third and hopefully, very little of the first. I've seen some good men who were vastly changed, "broken" by the "necessity" of killing. I've actually sat in on an interrogation and listened in revulsion to a man detail his pleasure at the "sport" of killing two victims. What's interesting is that "civilized" man looks at all three instances and shudders. Yet, "civilized" man is happy to send young men and women out to fight their wars. I have no desire to kill another human being. I will, in self defense or to save another person's life. That is how squads of men fight in war. Not to take this or that objective but, to save their buddy's life or their own. We stretch that justification out in our laws of punishment for crimes when we sentence someone to death. "He killed three people in cold blood, his victims deserve justice." What we're actually doing is very similar to the old practice of beheading bandits and posting their heads on the city walls as a warning to others of what potential punishment awaits if you violate certain laws. We stretch the justification even farther when we raid terrorist training camps. We strike these camps where known terrorist groups train in anticipation of future bad acts. There is the knowledge that while certainly some of those in the camps are probably responsible for planning and carrying out bombings and killings that there are also people present that have never acted in that fashion. We say to ourselves that those people accepted the risks. They knew the standard that they were taking up. It doesn't change the fact that sometimes, the figure on guard duty, outside that camp is only fourteen and you won't know that until after you have transected his inner and outer carotid arteries with a very sharp knife and held him close as he died. Sometimes, you have a hard time accepting your role in that person's demise. The only thing that I can say is that you have to learn to distance yourself, emotionally from the act, while not becoming emotionless. Otherwise, when you return to "civilized" society, you won't be able to function.

Re: that killer instinct

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:40 am
by civiliansheepdog
tacticalguy wrote:The only thing that I can say is that you have to learn to distance yourself, emotionally from the act, while not becoming emotionless. Otherwise, when you return to "civilized" society, you won't be able to function.
Very true. If it was only easy to turn "off" your emotion and turn it back "on" to get back to your regular program. But then again that's what makes us humans unique and complicated

Re: that killer instinct

Posted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:47 am
by Breacher01
try it 5 or 6 days a week, if you cant lose it you wont last a year as Military/LE.

killer instict is something we do have in is scince we we hunter/gatherer's or before, but with civilisation its become a menace. High ranking persons declare wars on eachother, but we lost the need for that killer instict. Most of my work concerns people who are enraged, maybe with the killer instinct. It has no place in the civilised world. noteven in warzones.

I've lost it. I have the tactical instict with the objective to save life at high costs. I can kill without thinking, but with saving life in the back of my mind. Let's call it the Savior Instinct.

Tests on military personel showed only about 2% of GI's aim to kill. Even sniper teams don't hunt or try to kill.

Killer instict is reserved for hunting, not professional jobs. Kill to save, but dont kill because you think you need to. With your thoughts about this you should get a job in varmint extermination, not LE or military, you'll never get the job.