Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

This is coolbert: More on the fear factor in combat as the source of friction in warfare. Fear debilitates ones ability to function physically in a combat situation. The presence of fear causes all sorts of chemicals to flow involuntarily in your body. Adrenaline and endorphines and such. This is good in the short run. A response to the fight or flight scenario. You gain immediate and instantaneous strength that allows you to do things you ordinarily would not do. But in the long run, if the presence of fear is prolonged, this will tire a person out very quickly. Your muscles cannot stand such prolonged stimulation and will just shut down or become weak and atrophied. Rest is required to overcome this. And in combat rest is not always possible. Military medicine has played a role in understanding this phenomenon. During the Korean War, studies were done on unwitting GI's. Autopsies were done to determine the degree of beginning heart disease in young Americans [almost without exception, all the autopsies turned up some degree of heart disease present, even in fit, young Americans (hardening of the arteries)]. Teeth pulled from GI's were examined for the presence of the chemicals released involuntarily as described above. These levels were uniformly found to be exceedingly high!

Some anecdotal accounts of the effect of fear on a person physically are most interesting. The military historian S.L.A. Marshall describes two incidents that bear this out. In WW1, while marching twenty miles to the front for the first time, half of Marshall's company fell out on the march. This from a unit that in the U.S. had trained to cover the same distance carrying 65 pound packs! In contrast, when marching to the rear after a number of weeks in the trenches at the front, not one soldier fell out on the march! Marshal also relates that soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day sometimes took three hours to cover the 100 yards or so of beach after landing. Sometimes under fire, sometimes not. This from soldiers that in training were able to cross the 100 yards of beach with a 65 pound pack in less than a minute.

Street gangs in the U.S. are another perfect example of how fear can change a person. Brain tissue of street gang members that have been killed in "drive-by shootings" have been taken and examined by specialists. Lo and behold, these gang members have shown evidence that their brains were changing into some state that is why beyond the normal human brain. Whether you would call this evolution or de-volution, I cannot say. This is an effect from all those chemicals flowing in the brain all the time. Years and years of unnatural chemical flow have changed these guys brains.



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