Friday, December 16, 2005
"Hanoi Jane" Fonda is claiming that ever since Vietnam, U.S. troops have been trained to commit atrocities against innocent civilians as a matter of military policy.
“Starting with the Vietnam War we began training soldiers differently,” the anti-American actress says in an email to the Washington Post.
I left a comment, but since it's book related (and I've been lazy on the whole blogging thing), I want to reproduce it here:
Anyone read the work of Brig. Gen. S.L.A. Marshall? And the follow up studies? Particularly Col. Dave Grossman?
I’m guessing Fonda heard about them and took them out of context.
According to Marshall (who fought in WWI and in both theaters of WWII), based on interviews with troops, when presented with an enemy target and given an opportunity and means to shoot, only 25% did. Only 25% of our troops attempted to kill the enemy after spotting him.
The military didn’t like this. The military changed its training programs to desensitize troops to killing enemy troops. Methods included things like replacing the traditional paper targets with cabbages with the top shaved off and the body of the vegetable filled with ketchup (to show men what it looked like when they actually killed someone).
Firing rates increased to 60% in the Korean War and 90% in the Vietnam War. Remember, this isn’t accuracy. This is being WILLING to shoot AT an enemy soldier ASSUMING you see him.
Needless to say, these statistics are easily misinterpreted. And you can make an argument that the military does not prepare its troops for the psychological consequences of killing (Grossman makes that argument).
But Fonda is wrong if she’s basing her statements on these facts. The training is about fighting enemy soldiers, not civilians. And the training was mostly just to fire the d*mn weapons, not to commit atrocities.