What gives a soldier the edge in a battle?
Since the beginning of time soldiers have returned from battle only to pass on tactics and information that has served them well. Law enforcement has recently attempted to learn these new tactics and implement them into their roles with SWAT teams and alike. So what makes the military so special? What gives them the edge over the enemy in the battlefield? Clothing, weapons, air power, maybe its the training? We are going to evaluate three areas that can give a soldier the edge in the battlefield: equipment, individual training, and tactics.
Equipment is a must in the battlefield, its said that bullets don’t fly without supply. But is the standard issue really the best? Sadly the answer is, NO. I’m afraid my old drill Sgt was right, “Its made by the lowest bidder, idiot”. I remember stepping off the 130 into Iraq, for my first time, with an IBA, 5 lbs ACH, wearing ACU’s and carrying a Colt M4. I couldn’t work with that crap. My Combat Kit (that’s the body armor) was so dern heavy that on my first raid I had to fall over a 3′ wall. I was so embarrassed, I grew up in the swamp jumping tree stumps and chasing deer and black bear.
A 3′ wall wasn’t crap. But the standard-issue equipment was just too much. Seriously, my uniform was ACU. I might as well walk around with a freaking bullseye on my back. I have found that you can get much better equipment in the civilian market and even better weapons. My issued M4 can’t hold a candle to my personal M4. (BCM makes some really great rifles by the way.)
Later in my career, I realized if I wanted to be a better fighter I needed better equipment. I currently use a bump helmet instead of an ACH, a Banshee plate carrier instead of the IOTV, and am working on getting my unit to switch to Glocks instead of Berettas. The difference is amazing, I’m soo much lighter and agile. I’ve also learned that you must train and PT in your gear if you want to be able to truly move in that equipment. So if it’s not the equipment that makes the Military the leader in warfare, what is?
Training is a must for all soldiers, without it your loss like a 2nd LT. A battle can be confusing, and the sound of bullets zinging over your head doesn’t clear up anything. That’s why we NCO’s are so anal about training. It must become second nature to you. SHOOT, MOVE and COMMUNICATE. It’s like a dance, you and your partner must be familiar with each other and work as one to accomplish a set goal. Knowing how to react when everything breaks down is crucial. Likewise, individual training is also crucial. Knowing what to do when your weapon malfunctions can make the difference between staying in the fight and being killed. Just ask Jessica Linch. Working on your reloads and target acquisition will definitely give you an edge in the fight. But adding flash to your reloads and movement will not be what gets you through the pucker factor zone.
Tactics are definitely something that sets Recon apart from all others. They seem to realize that a true operator never stops learning. There’s always a newer and better way of skinning that cat. If you’re not willing to improvise, adapt, and overcome than you will simply die. Just as equipment change and improve, so do tactics. Some of the tactics that I have learned through the years have been the very thing that gave us an edge in that fight. That was only possible because of our NCO core.
Learning those tactics and concurrent training of it made it possible for us to carry out missions. Just think of the mass changes that have occurred in warfare over the last 240 years. From colonial times were they lined up on the battlefield and let the enemy shoot at them, to trench warfare, to modern warfare. Armor isn’t a new concept, look at the knights in mid-evil times. How did we win the Revolutionary War? Gorilla warfare and God. Even though the Colonials were outgunned, outmanned, and had way less training – Gen. Washington still stood them up against Britain’s Green Dragoons and won. While tactics play a huge roll in battle it’s still not what gives us soldiers the edge.
The Unspoken Secret
So what is it? How can us soldiers be thrust into a crappy situation and still come out on top? Look at the Battle of Mogadishu, to the normal guy we won. We killed way more of them than we lost. But to the SOCOM community, it was a huge loss. Why? As odd as this sounds its LOVE, that’s it. That is our little secret.
Love for our country and a burning drive to serve is what got us to sign up. Love for our families and dreams of what lives we will live when we get home is what keeps us sane overseas. The love for our fellow brother and sisters in arms is what drives us to fight back. Its brutally forced into your head in basic training that your actions affect everyone else. You don’t screw over your battle buddies just for self-gratification, i.e. blue falcon.
So when the poop is hitting the fan, all that you’re worried about is NOT letting down your buddies. That bond between yall, a bond that’s forged in pain, sweet, and blood, becomes the strongest force any enemy has ever seen. So when you’re watching those cool videos on YouTube with the guy showing off some cool new tactic and wielding a sweet $2,000 rifle – just remember that crap ain’t going to get you through hell. It’s those that walk into hell with you, and the love yall have for each other that will.