Fixing the Army’s Broken Culture

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Military elements often retain a degree of tradition, sometimes to their detriment and well past any meaningful use. Examples include the foolish and ineffective approach that initial entry training (“basic”) continues to be conducted and long-obsolete and useless holdovers such as drill and ceremony. I’ll begrudge an exception to D&C for personnel formally directed to conduct a tattoo while also pointing out the general fraud, waste, and abuse of such pompous displays.

Things like this are continued under the false guise of instilling discipline and learning how to pay attention to detail despite no evidence that they accomplish either:

http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/styles/lewin_style.htm
http://www.kurt-lewin.com/leadership-styles.shtml

Kurt Lewin’s research on leadership and group dynamics indicates an over-bearing authoritative approach typified by the drill sergeant stereotype may be the worst way to lead people in many situations, especially if you want them to be capable of thinking and leading on their own one day. Test groups can revert to even worse undisciplined behavior than those put into laissez-faire control groups when the authority figure is removed. If you enforce babysitting measures upon personnel as the only means of enforcing discipline, then you’ll have to always and forever ensure a babysitter is present.

Forward-thinking leaders have commented on the need to break obsolete and detrimental traditions, even directing that future leaders must be able to function under disciplined disobedience.

Here are some examples:

https://soflete.com/blogs/knowledge/surfers-hippies-hipsters-and-snowflakes-counterculture-in-sof

https://warontherocks.com/2016/09/six-ways-to-fix-the-armys-culture/

https://www.army.mil/article/187293/future_warfare_requires_disciplined_disobedience_army_chief_says

https://warontherocks.com/2017/05/three-things-the-army-chief-of-staff-wants-you-to-know/

https://medium.com/s/story/10-dumb-rules-that-make-your-best-people-want-to-quit-8491b446dde5/

Future warfare requires ‘disciplined disobedience,’ Army chief says

“I think we’re over-centralized, overly bureaucratic, and overly risk-averse,” Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said while speaking at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C., as part of the Atlantic Council Commanders Series.

Leaders on the battlefield could expect to be out of contact with their own leadership for significant periods of time. Those officers would still need to accomplish their commander’s objectives, even when the conditions on the battlefield change and they are unable to send word up the chain of command.

“We are going to have to empower [and] decentralize leadership to make decisions and achieve battlefield effects in a widely dispersed environment where subordinate leaders, junior leaders … may not be able to communicate to their higher headquarters, even if they wanted to,” Milley said.

In that environment, Milley said, the Army will need a cadre of trusted leaders on the battlefield who know when it’s time to disobey the original orders they were given and come up with a new plan to achieve the purpose of those orders.

“[A] subordinate needs to understand that they have the freedom and they are empowered to disobey a specific order, a specified task, in order to accomplish the purpose. It takes a lot of judgment.”

Such disobedience cannot be “willy-nilly.” Rather, it must be “disciplined disobedience to achieve a higher purpose,” Milley said. “If you do that, then you are the guy to get the pat on the back.”

Milley said that when orders are given, the purpose of those orders must also be provided so that officers know both what they are to accomplish and how they are expected to accomplish it.

More:
https://www.army.mil/article/187293/future_warfare_requires_disciplined_disobedience_army_chief_says

None of this is new. This formal 1978 study Military Self-Discipline: A Motivational Analysis reveals the same things
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a055017.pdf

Worst of all, despite having formal, studied, decades-old evidence that a self-discipline approach selects for and produces better outcomes than an overbearing, authoritative approach, there is NO formal evidence that the current model provides any benefit.

The topic of leadership has been extensively studied in a range of occupational settings. Findings indicate that employee ratings of leaders predict occupational outcomes such as job turnover, satisfaction, and performance in both military and civilian occupational settings.

Approximately 72,000 soldiers go through Army BCT in the United States each year (http://www.jackson.army.mil/sites/info/) … [A]lthough there are several possible leadership qualities that could be displayed by Drill Sergeants, from being harsh and demanding to mentoring and motivating, there have been NO studies that have systematically assessed Drill Sergeant characteristics. [emphasis added]

Trainee Perceptions of Drill Sergeant Qualities During Basic Combat Training was published in 2013. The Department of Army spends money to send 72,000 new recruits through initial entry “basic” training every year and has done so for many decades but has never bothered to study if the established approach is effective.

Despite the hallucinations of personnel imagining that the stereotypical drill sergeant approach is “necessary” or even useful, there is no evidence for it.

What has the Army response to this been? As expected of the illiterate majority, more of the same failed nonsense.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/04/24/army-making-more-drill-sergeants-increase-discipline-ait.html

https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2017/11/28/its-official-the-army-is-bringing-drill-sergeants-back-to-ait/

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Machine Gun Training

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EVERY 0331 that goes through AMGC does high angle fire. Slow news day?

– Joe R Heft

A variety of gunnery skills are taught during USMC Advanced Machine Gunner Course but most Army personnel remain oblivious to gunnery with machine guns and are rarely competent with them beyond loading and minimal marksmanship on easy and well-defined point targets.

In fact, most Army personnel have been conducting machine gun qualification incorrectly and failing to achieve published standards. Consider this from the new small arms training manual:

TC 3-20.40
7-119

Table IV-B requires gunners to practice trigger control and requires the firer to fire one five to seven round burst at each specified point target or series of targets in the area target sequences. Gunners are authorized to fire only one five to seven round burst at each paster. [Emphasis added]

The authors explicitly spell this out due to recognizing most Army personnel have failed to perform at this standard but it is NOT a new/different standard. This is not a change to doctrine or a new qualification, this is the way the qual was always supposed to be run. Simple arithmetic of the number of rounds issued during qualification, the number of rounds per burst to be fired, and the number of target areas engaged confirms this. The explicit instruction was forced in due to a large number of Army personnel that don’t math good.

Lack of skill with this equipment is unfortunately common.
MG-backwards
backwards-load-MG

Operation Cold Steel has been less than stellar…

Such “expertise” is rampant:

army handgun pew

Marines practice rarely trained machine gun tactic that could take out Russian vehicles

The Marine Corps is in Bulgaria practicing high-angle fire with a 40 mm grenade launching machine gun known as the Mk-19… The tactic could be beneficial in striking down infantry troops behind walls or protection, or taking out advancing Russian armor and light-skinned vehicles.

With seamless communications and competent forward observers, high-angle Mk-19 fire could also be used to rapidly and easily walk rounds onto an enemy target, according to several machine gunners.

It’s a skill set learned at the Marine Corps’ six-week Advanced Machine Gunner Course.

More:
https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2018/07/18/marines-practice-rarely-trained-machine-gun-tactic-to-prepare-for-a-fight-with-russia/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/soldiers-take-aim-and-miss/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/machine-gun-gunnery-commonwealth-militaries/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/death-of-machine-gun-gunnery/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/comparing-small-arms-training-wwii-today/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/suppressive-fire-cyclic-rates/
https://firearmusernetwork.com/suppressive-fire-myth-fact/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/automatic-rifles-should-the-m249-be-replaced/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/the-emma-gees-by-herbert-mcbride-part-1/

Ash Hess: Army Marksmanship and MMTC

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SFC Ash Hess (ret.) was one of the primary authors of the Army’s new Training Circulars. He was asked to speak before a recent graduating class at Marksmanship Master Trainer Course. Here’s a link to his original post and the transcript. Bold highlights were added to emphasize important points.

https://ashhessblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/speach-for-the-marksmanship-master-trainer-course/

Speech for the Marksmanship Master Trainer Course

I want to start off by saying that I am honored and humbled to be here. When SFC Chain asked me to speak I checked to make sure he was messaging the right guy because honestly I never expected to receive that message. I immediately, upon that confirmation, jumped at the chance to speak to the graduates of the Master Marksmanship Trainer Course 03-18.

You see, the people in this room, guests, cadre and most importantly the graduates are the future of Army Marksmanship. One would be pretty naïve to assume that anyone could stand here and say that we don’t have issues in that realm. Five weeks ago, you may or may not have agreed that we are a couple of minutes of angle off across the Army.

During the course, you have learned better ways to shoot and train, things you never heard of, and things you learned in basic training and lost over the years. You slaughtered some sacred cows and destroyed perpetual myths centered on our service rifle. You are now part of a relatively small group of people in the Army that have attended an Army level class on marksmanship.

Until MMTC unveiled, the last formal, Army level marksmanship training was basic training. Think about the thousands of leaders and soldiers that have done nothing more than execute what their Drill Sergeants taught them over their careers with no chance of learning more.

If you were lucky, you had the privilege of attending one of the many Division Schools like I ran when I attended MMTC in 2015. While these schools were awesome training, they lacked one important element that MMTC does not. Army-wide recognition. We trained people and when they left the Division, that knowledge was often met with “that’s great, but here is how we do it. ”

When you walk out those doors you are not facing that challenge of trying to sell your skills. You have the backing of the Infantry School. You also have something else that is near and dear to my heart. That would be TC 3-22.9. By now you have been in that book and if you wondered who the good idea fairy was, well, that’s me.

That book was written under this simple guidance “write the book you needed while you were instructing” The course I ran for 10th Mountain graduated 1600 students under my watch. 1600 people learned and executed great things and went back to their units only to be hamstrung by an old book. My team and stakeholders from across the Army, active and reserve, set out to make a book that supported not only everything we have learned in the war but something that would support good marksmanship techniques and most importantly, teaching techniques.

We not only vetted the book within the Army, but we brought in several professional instructors from across the industry. Many of them have been teaching every weekend for 10+ years as their primary income. These pros helped us streamline the message and cleared up wording to make it teach more effectively. Believe that these guys are on your side and want nothing more than effective American Soldiers. Many times, business comes second and they gave the Army things that people would pay a lot of money to learn.

In our research, we found some things. Our weapons aren’t bad for what we are asking them to do. All of you fired issued weapons from five meters out to 600 meters. The ammunition is good enough for what we are asking it to do. You guys know this as you got hits. If the weapons and ammo aren’t the problem, what is?

Is it the caliber of Solider? If that were it, it wouldn’t cover 40 years of marginal performance

Is it the number of rounds we fire? Could be in some cases but if SFC Chain and the cadre had simply said, “here is 100,000 rounds; blast away” without any teaching would you guys have seen the improvement you made the past few weeks?

We decided that is was WHAT we were saying and how we were saying it. We relooked what we were providing to leaders and instructors to teach. Here at Fort Benning, you can’t present anything that isn’t in a book. No matter what we wanted to teach, the book was the book. I think we made big strides on fixing that.

So that leads to what you guys learned here in MMTC. For those in the room, you were successful. Some were not. The difference is the message that the cadre challenged and graded you on delivering. You had to group to higher standards than normal, get more precise zeros and get hits beyond what many of you were used to. You also had to teach back things that improved your own performance. You not only learned how to shoot better but learned how to make others shoot better, which is the big picture.

This is how we are improving Army Marksmanship. No more will you leave a school and not be able to use the information provided there because a leader asks one simple question, “What does the book say?” The knowledge passed on to you from the cadre cannot be undermined nor argued with by those who have always done it one way. When you go back to your units and later your next unit, that knowledge will still be relevant.

I close with a challenge. I challenge you, the MMTC graduates to transfer all the knowledge gained here to four people. You may get more than that but if you can get four people to the same level you are the result will be astounding. You and your subordinates need to get the message out to 1 million people as they fire 400 million rounds next year. You now know how to get all the rounds you and your Soldiers are allocated and the best ways to use them. Those rounds will be fired, we hope, but the question remains are they good rounds or are they fired the same way we always have done it.

I thank you for all you are doing and you have my support in your continued efforts.

Comparing Small Arms Training: WWII and Today

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Zeroing Day

1942:

taken from this more comprehensive film:

Today:

I guess yelling at recruits 25 meters away with a mug of coffee is considered "coaching"...

Gunnery/Musketry

1933:

1935:

1944:

What machine gun gunnery is supposed to look like.

1960:

 

Today:

Who needs sights anyway?

However, this 1971 classic remains my favorite official Army training film of all time.

SHARP was invented after 1971, obviously...

New Army Marksmanship Manual

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The Army’s newly-released rifle/carbine manual, TC 3-22.9:

https://rdl.train.army.mil/catalog-ws/view/100.ATSC/492701D5-25E9-40A7-9498-74C22831F268-1463059585416/TCx3-22.9.pdf

Approved for public release, distribution is unlimited.

Speaking of military marksmanship, the new rifle/carbine FM just dropped last night: https://rdl.train.army.mil/catalog-ws/view/100.ATSC/492701D5-25E9-40A7-9498-74C22831F268-1463059585416/TCx3-22.9.pdf

One thing that stood out right away is that it says in two places that trigger finger placement should be natural, since people have different hand sizes. Now where have I heard that before? Oh right, SARG, Kyle Defoor, Pat Mcnamara… Glad to see it finally make it into the official literature!

Still skimming through it to see what else is changed in there.

– Patrick T.

Cutting edge shooting technique and ideas that will be adopted by top private trainers and special operations a few years from now can be found in competition circles today. Big Army will adopt in a few decades later. Any “new” material in TC 3-22.9 was widely understood and used in the competitive communities decades ago.

This has been the trend since the mid 1800s when the Industrial Revolution made it practical to issue rifled firearms to the masses.

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