Skip to main content

SLAM directory

Links

“Killing For Their Country: A New Look at 'Killology'”, Engen 2008

2008-engen.pdf: “Killing For Their Country: A New Look at 'Killology'”⁠, Robert Engen (2008-12-01; ; backlinks; similar):

It would appear, then, that Lieutenant Colonel Grossman’s appeals to biology and psychology are flawed, and that the bulwark of his historical evidence—S.L. A. Marshall’s assertion that soldiers do not fire their weapons—can be verifiably disproven. The theory of an innate, biological resistance to killing has little support in either evolutionary biology or in what we know about psychology, and, discounting Marshall’s claims, there is little basis in military history for such a theory either. This is not to say that all people can or will kill, or even that all soldiers can or will kill. Combat is staggeringly complex, an environment where human beings are pushed beyond all tolerable limits. There is much that we do not know, and plenty that we should be doing more to learn about. Grossman is clearly leading the way in posing these questions. Much of his work on the processes of killing and the relevance of physical distance to killing is extremely insightful. There is material in On Combat about fear, heart rate, and combat effectiveness that might be groundbreaking, and it should be studied carefully by historians trying to understand human behaviour in war. No disrespect to Lieutenant-Colonel Grossman is intended by this article, and it is not meant to devalue his work. I personally believe that some of the elements of his books, particularly the physiology of combat, would actually be strengthened if they were not shackled to the idea that humans cannot kill one another. But there are still questions that need to be asked, and the subject should not be considered closed. Grossman’s overall picture of killing in war and society is heavily informed by a belief in an innate human resistance to killing that, as has been offered here, does not stand up well to scrutiny. More research on the processes of human killing is needed, and although On Killing and On Combat form an excellent starting point, there are too many problems with their interpretation for them to be considered the final word on the subject. I believe that, in the future, the Canadian Forces needs to take a more critical posture when it comes to incorporating Grossman’s studies into its own doctrine. It is imperative that our nation’s military culture remain one devoted to pursuing the best available evidence at all costs, rather than one merely following the most popular consensus.

“S. L. A. Marshall's Men against Fire: New Evidence regarding Fire Ratios”, II 2003

2003-chambers.pdf: “S. L. A. Marshall's men against fire: New evidence regarding fire ratios”⁠, John Whiteclay Chambers II (2003-09-01; ; backlinks; similar):

Chambers II discusses the findings of journalist-soldier S. L. A. Marshall about combat fire ratios particularly that in World War II. Marshall claimed that his figures about the ratio of fire, the proportion of a rifle unit firing its weapons in battle was derived from his group after-action interviews, a method he developed as a field historian in world War II and which as a civilian journalist, Reserve officer, and military consultant. Although the ratio-of-fire figure was his most famous product, Marshall was proudest of his methodology.

[Chambers interviews Frank L. Brennan, an assistant of Marshall during his Korea War after-action interview work, who accompanied him to every interview. Brennan described Marshall’s methodology as follows: the group interviews typically lasted about 2 hours at most; Marshall took few notes; Marshall preferred to ask open-ended questions and listen to the discussions; he rarely asked questions specifically about the rate of fire or whether a soldier had fired his weapon; he did not seem to collect any of the statistics he would later report in his books; and Marshall was evasive when Brennan asked about his WWII statistics’ sources. Brennan noted that in Marshall’s autobiography, Marshall greatly inflated his importance & the resources placed at his disposal in Korea, and the length of his interviews. Brennan also served in combat afterwards, and observed a high rate of fire in his own men.]

“Right for the Wrong Reasons: S. L. A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire in Korea”, Jordan 2002

2002-jordan.pdf: “Right for the Wrong Reasons: S. L. A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire in Korea”⁠, Kelly C. Jordan (2002-01-01; ; backlinks)

“About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior [excerpts about S. L. A. Marshall (SLAM)]”, Hackworth & Sherman 1989-page-37

1989-hackworth-aboutface-slamarshallexcerpts.pdf#page=37: “About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior [excerpts about S. L. A. Marshall (SLAM)]”⁠, David H. Hackworth, Julie Sherman (1989-01-01; ; backlinks)

“S.L.A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire”, Spiller 1988

1988-spiller.pdf: “S.L.A. Marshall and the ratio of fire”⁠, Roger J. Spiller (1988-01-01; ; backlinks)

S.L.A. Marshall § Later controversies

Wikipedia

Miscellaneous