The Combat Soldier: Infantry Tactics and Cohesion in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

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OUP Oxford, 21.02.2013 - 538 Seiten
"How are soldiers able to fight together in combat and why are they willing to do so? The phenomenon of small-group cohesion on the battlefield has long fascinated social scientists, philosophers, and historians. Examining the evolution of infantry platoon tactics from the First World War to current operations in Afghanistan, this book proposes a provocative sociological thesis. It challenges many existing presumptions about military cohesion and combat performance by highlighting the fundamental difference between cohesion displayed by the citizen soldiers of the twentieth century and today’s professionals. Against widely accepted myths, this book demonstrates that, in fact, the combat performance of the citizen infantry was poor. Although modern forms of fire and movement tactics were identified by 1917, the citizen soldiers which fought in the two world wars, Korea, and Vietnam more often relied on costly mass bayonet charges or individual heroism, motivated by appeals to their masculinity and common national, ethnic, or racial identities. In the professional armies which began to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s, small-group cohesion has taken a quite different form. Professional soldiers are no longer primarily motivated by political ideology or common social identities but are united around refined collective drills which they learn to perform instinctively together through intensive training. In the twenty-first-century army, cohesion is now primarily based on professional competence. Not only has professionalism transformed combat performance but it has allowed groups once excluded from the army and the infantry to fight as soldiers; ethnic minorities, gays, and, finally, women can now fight on the front line. The book concludes by exploring the wider implications of professionalization in society.How are soldiers able to fight together in combat and why are they willing to do so? The phenomenon of small-group cohesion on the battlefield has long fascinated social scientists, philosophers, and historians. Examining the evolution of infantry platoon tactics from the First World War to current operations in Afghanistan, this book proposes a provocative sociological thesis. It challenges many existing presumptions about military cohesion and combat performance by highlighting the fundamental difference between cohesion displayed by the citizen soldiers of the twentieth century and today’s professionals. Against widely accepted myths, this book demonstrates that, in fact, the combat performance of the citizen infantry was poor. Although modern forms of fire and movement tactics were identified by 1917, the citizen soldiers which fought in the two world wars, Korea, and Vietnam more often relied on costly mass bayonet charges or individual heroism, motivated by appeals to their masculinity and common national, ethnic, or racial identities. In the professional armies which began to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s, small-group cohesion has taken a quite different form. Professional soldiers are no longer primarily motivated by political ideology or common social identities but are united around refined collective drills which they learn to perform instinctively together through intensive training. In the twenty-first-century army, cohesion is now primarily based on professional competence. Not only has professionalism transformed combat performance but it has allowed groups once excluded from the army and the infantry to fight as soldiers; ethnic minorities, gays, and, finally, women can now fight on the front line. The book concludes by exploring the wider implications of professionalization in society.How are soldiers able to fight together in combat and why are they willing to do so? The phenomenon of small-group cohesion on the battlefield has long fascinated social scientists, philosophers, and historians. Examining the evolution of infantry platoon tactics from the First World War to current operations in Afghanistan, this book proposes a provocative sociological thesis. It challenges many existing presumptions about military cohesion and combat performance by highlighting the fundamental difference between cohesion displayed by the citizen soldiers of the twentieth century and today’s professionals. Against widely accepted myths, this book demonstrates that, in fact, the combat performance of the citizen infantry was poor. Although modern forms of fire and movement tactics were identified by 1917, the citizen soldiers which fought in the two world wars, Korea, and Vietnam more often relied on costly mass bayonet charges or individual heroism, motivated by appeals to their masculinity and common national, ethnic, or racial identities. In the professional armies which began to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s, small-group cohesion has taken a quite different form. Professional soldiers are no longer primarily motivated by political ideology or common social identities but are united around refined collective drills which they learn to perform instinctively together through intensive training. In the twenty-first-century army, cohesion is now primarily based on professional competence. Not only has professionalism transformed combat performance but it has allowed groups once excluded from the army and the infantry to fight as soldiers; ethnic minorities, gays, and, finally, women can now fight on the front line. The book concludes by exploring the wider implications of professionalization in society." --Publisher's website.
 

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Inhalt

1 The Elementary Forms of the Military Life
1
2 Cohesion
24
3 The Marshall Effect
40
4 Combat Motivation
62
5 Mass Tactics
98
6 Modern Tactics
129
7 The Persistence of Mass
164
8 Battle Drills
208
9 Training
266
10 Professionalism
338
11 The Female Soldier
376
12 The Professional Society
419
Notes
446
Bibliography
503
Index
521
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Über den Autor (2013)


Anthony King, Professor in War Studies, The University of Warwick

Anthony King has written extensively on social theory, football, and the armed forces, including his most recent book 'The Transformation of Europe's Armed Forces: from the Rhine to Afghanistan', published by Cambridge University Press in 2011. As a result of his research, he has developed close
relations with the armed forces, especially the Royal Marines. He has co-written parts of current British military doctrine on stabilisation and has advised on the campaign in Afghanistan as a member of NATO's Regional Command South Headquarters in Kandahar in 2009-10. He was recently appointed as a
mentor by the Army's Force Development and Training Command as it tries to reform and restructure the army. He has contributed to public debates about contemporary security and defence policy, giving evidence on operations in Afghanistan to the Parliamentary Defence Committee, writing and speaking
for some think-tanks. He is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Exeter.

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