Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mind-Body and Battle

In animals as well as man, there is a default choice of courses of action and reaction. But it is a bit more complicated than Fight-Flight-Freeze.   Initially a REVULSION REFLEX inhibits what might be an all-out murderous mutual massacre.  This serves two purposes: maneuver for advantage and the appearance of overwhelming force (INTIMIDATION).   Once one side turns away, the Revulsion Reflex is erased and replaced by the RUN-DOWN REFLEX in which the loser is run down killed, captured, eaten or sold on the slave market.  The end status is submission, even though such results in certain death.

The initial stages of a confrontation include the posturing, growling, snarling and puffing up hair, all of which are signs of aggression. In humans as well.  The controlling factor in intimidation is eyeball to eyeball, or the appearance of it. 

 Most animals in nature carry body markings to camouflage the female against discovery during nesting, resting, or child raising.   On the other hand, body markings that make the males competitor appear more ferocious. Some is carried over in human threat displays, Tall hats and capes make the contestant appear larger than life, body markings exaggerate combative appearance.  The male lion has a big mane while the female does not, the mane is the main sex display while other body differences between male and female are not as apparent.  

The combat response of the “Freeze” is based on the fact that a moving target attracts the eye, standing still under the right circumstances clouds the predator’s mind (as in Hide).  This is a standard response at night when the enemy lights up the night with searchlights and/or flares.  Hiding in the umbra of taller objects also works

The Peacocks feathers all full of eyes, or the accentuated eyes of Owl or Orca are there to intimidate in this psychological preparation of the battle.  Few animals can face down a pair of human eyes, so I avoid eye contact in sparring and take in the whole person for balance, stance, guard, vulnerable spots and movement.
Like the tank or aircraft, the human body has vulnerabilities which must be protected.  These include the BRAIN, EYES and VITALS.  That which connects and protects these (MEANS) includes the skeleton, skull, and body operating systems the defense of which life depends: Nervous, Gastro-Intestinal, Respiratory and Vascular. The nervous system includes several subsystems of interest to the warrior.

The most common human fighting technique is battery by hand and foot, mostly by hand.  There are only two targets worthy of battery, and that is to affect the Brain and the Lungs.  The skull protecting the brain is a hard target so it must be struck with something soft in order to induce concussion. Conversely, the lungs must be hit with something hard in the guts so as to push the diaphragm upward constricting the lungs.  Plain battery elsewhere is defeated by muscle, bone, and fat.

The skeletal system puts bone to protect the soft parts, and provides a mobile firing platform and weapons system.   The “soft parts” inside the body are protected by the muscles and bone, and are the subsets of the Body regarding Tactical Imperatives.  One versus the other’s.

THE ENGINE (Cardio-Vascular-Lungs).  
Similar to a tank, aircraft, and car engine, the animate require oxygen and fuel to transfer energy to, lubricate, and operate the various components of the body.  In vertebrates this requires lungs to take in air and transfer the oxygen to the blood, which blood picks up nutrients and agents from the various glands and organs.   Together, this constitutes the vitals.

The process of breathing without which life gets short, involves the transfer of oxygen from the lungs into the heart which pumps the oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.   While the rib cage provides considerable protection of damage by blunt instrument, compression of the guts often knocks the breath out of the breather.  Behind and below the guts (intestines), certain vital organs that filter and deliver the chemicals into or out of the blood and digestive systems. These are located in an ellipse with the long axis across the belly from kidney to kidney. 


Deep Diaphragm (Belly) Breathing brings in more air in to get more energy out, and relaxes the body (and mind).  Chest breathing is rapid and shallow, and tightens up the body (and mind).  Deep “belly” breathing is the counter to stress.  One must calm down to fight.

This provides two references, the Center Line from nose to groin which is both the center of vulnerabilities, but also the Center Line of the body’s defensive and offensive firepower.  Consequently, a direct face-off between humans place the greatest firepower mutually opposed to the opponents vulnerabilities.   

The terms COG, Center of Gravity ad Center of Mass are often used interchangeably rendering both moot in battle.  It is certain (IMHO) that all nature knows its balance, centers and all.   In this rendition, the center of mass of any creature only moves when the cargo shifts, and the “bone centers” are fixed by the joints which include the shoulders and knees. 

The Center of Gravity is the net result of all the forces influencing the body including the force exerted in standing and running, and includes the forces of any external object that yanks, pulls, or trips the body.


While one bleeds just anywhere, getting to the heart of it is more precise.

The command and control of the animate body goes through several nets and systems.


The Central Nervous System ties the parts together via several subsystems, some you know, and others operate behind the coded door.  
Chinese Traditional Medicine was unknown to the West and likely the Middle East, but so were the ones we know about today.  Recent work in the martial arts community is making progress In associating the elements of Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) with what we know of the body today.  The pressure points of TCM normally are found where a nerve comes to an end, crosses another or divides.  Additional work is being done in affiliating TCM with the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) according to the Dragon Society (Grand Master Rick Moneymaker, under whom I have studied).

George Dillman Pressure Point Seminar

We usually associate the nervous system with motor and sensory nerves, but well below the conscious level the ANS works in response to the threat as perceived by the Biology of perception which follows two paths into the brain to the switchboard of the Amygdala, Smell and
Audio‐Visual, which produces chemical changes to make things happen or not.  Smell is the oldest of senses and is routed through the Thalamus to activate the Limbic System while Audio‐Visual is routed through the Hypothalamus which goes to the Cortex. Smell (Stink) produces action without reflection.

9The Parasympathetic system appears to be operating in diametric opposition to each other.  The Sympathetic system cranks up under perceived threat, and the Parasympathetic backs off. The Sympathetic reaction, however, is counter-productive to efficient fighting, in particular the heart rate.  Pupil dilation is accompanied by a narrow field of view which does not see or sense attacks coming from the sides. The Oriental system of belly breathing, deep and slow, also slows down the heart rate, increases the field of view, and relaxes the body.  A tense body not only hurts more when hit, the range and speed of the limbs are retarded. 

RELAXATION RESPONSE (Calm down to fight)

This leads to an apparent, but necessary paradigm shift: One must calm down in order to fight efficiently and effectively.  The foaming at the mouth, wild eyed, emotional fighter won’t fight long in the face of deadly calm.   Shouting is targeted and timed to freeze the target at the right time and way.  This calming down effect has many names in the East, but is also found in Western athletics and performance arts.  It is sometimes called the Relaxation Response.  When relaxed, the athlete or artist’s mind becomes detached from the fury of the moment, but operates in a more strategic fashion.  A chattering mind invites battery to the body. 
In Close Order Combat at Close Quarters (spear or pike range), one reads of forces who advance with shouts in unison, like “God Wills It” or singing a battle song are also ridding the body of tension, creating a bond within the ranks, and elevates the mind from dwelling too much on what could go wrong. 


Substantial and credible research has established that the default behavior of humans when faced with the choice of killing don’t kill, don’t shoot, miss deliberately, never forget, and vomit once done.  It is clear that the initial behavior during the initial face to face confrontation is to threaten, posture and maneuver for advantage.   Recent studies of the casualty rates of battles back to antiquity also show abysmally small numbers of casualties or both sides, provided the other side didn’t run.  

Since killing is an integral part of life on the planet, there is a question as to why do humans react against killing even when being killed is a clear and present danger.  This reaction is also common to the animal kingdom, few animals launch into an attack without some intimidating (or sneaky) maneuvers.  If the object of their intimidation does not back off, the confrontation can end as both sides back off  This is nature’s way of limiting aggression to issues of dominance (Social Status) or dinner. The lions, gazelles, buffalo, and other wild creatures who are subject of being eaten or beaten only do so when needed.  Otherwise, they share the same space. 
Humans don’t settle for that. Usually. 

During WW 2, only 15 to 20% of infantrymen fired their weapons.  The change from paper targets at known ranges to popup silhouette targets at random distances raised the odds in Vietnam to 90-95%. Realistic training, that is the replication of all the sensory inputs normally associated with a given task.  That is why we invented the infiltration course after Korea, to get accustomed to overhead machinegun fire, tracers and all, in a controlled situation. 

The routing of sensory inputs by way of the Amygdala, Thalamus and Hypothalamus that is not overloaded with emotions, allows a calmer more trained mind to sort these stimuli and select an appropriate response.  The Trained Mind is where the coded reflexes activating muscle memory and learned responses that can fight on automatic, leaving the relaxed mind to make strategic observations and directions.   This occurs in athletes, dancers, fighter pilots and Friday Rush Hour to function without burning up energy in conscious decision making as that mind is too slow.


From a broader point of view, control of the Revulsion Reflex which is primarily driven by the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), is to counter with activating the Parasympathetic System in addition to reducing the fear factor of external stimuli, like incoming rounds.  Taking learned responses to cope with the actual physical threats includes digging in, shooting back, wearing protective gear at all times. 

The Knights Templar slept in their combat gear, something that I learned my first week in combat. And they did so without regard to any specific threat assessment.  Unit morale due to the unit replacement system in US forces today has elevated the sense of camaraderie between buddies to a level far above any achieved before or so wide.  Likewise the bonding of the Knights Templar and the other holy orders coupled with a shared set of values, rituals, and combat training worked to override any errant stimuli so they could fight effectively and efficiently. 


The Temple and the Hospital only recruited those who were already MOS qualified (knights, men at arms, sergeants) and bonded together by faith, ritual and hard collective training.  For a unit to function as a unit in combat, they must have trained tougher under simulated combat conditions, and some that aren’t battle.  This includes hunger, exhaustion, confusion, extreme heat and/or cold, rain, snow, and/or dust, all of which are available at Ft Hood Texas often at the same time.

There is little known about the training schedule, program of instruction, of Mission Essential Task List used to train the Order.  The fact that the holy orders and other well trained outfits could assemble on day, or show up in the middle of battle and be able to be deployed effectively means that there had to be a shared and clearly understood way to fight for each of the components and for the leadership.  The Western knights of the 12th Century were far superior to Islamic forces, and particularly at higher levels of command.  Saladin started the reversal of the trend which ended in the 13th Century.  One fatal difference influenced operations was the incessant bickering of the various political components of either side.  

See the Crusade through Arab Eyes, by Amin Maalouf, which shows how screwed up the Muslim side was during the First Crusade until the Third.   During that period of time, Muslim rule passed from Arab to Turk, which did not reverse again until after WW 1. 
Crew Served Weapons,

The recent studies of modern combat and firing rates, show that any form of distance between the enemies eyes and our own reduces aversion, and can activate the Run Down and Chase Reflexes. This distancing applies to officers, non-commissioned officers, crew served weapons crews, and those at a distance from the threat.  Knights of the day from Far East to Iceland operated as a crew served weapon, as the knight rarely went unaided or alone.  Except when showing off.
Kingdom of Heaven, Kerak. Balien (Right) intercepts Saladin's host (dust in background)
Flags and Bugles.

The noise, dust and confusion of Close Order Battle makes giving verbal orders problematic.  The high notes of the trumpet operate at a frequency that the human ear registers full attention, and bugles are still used (out of respect) today.  Likewise banners, flags, pennons, and Guidons are the default visual means of controlling forces afoot, afloat, or a riding.  The soul that carried the banner of a band of brothers did so without a weapon in hand, and for whom dropping the flag was a major disgrace.  It still is, even though following the flag in current battles would draw fire. 

Units lacking the sense of camaraderie and shared experiences have a short shelf life.  Once the enemy turns to run, runs or acts in a panicky way, the Rundown or Chase Reflex automatically reverses the Revulsion Reflex, and the chase Is on.

Once the enemy looks away, turns his back, or demonstrates weakness, another equally powerful gut reaction to chase down and kill the enemy without any sense of revulsion.  In battles between forces in close order (side by side, shoulder to shoulder, etc.) turning and running resulted in mass casualties due to aroused avarice by the attacker and suppressed defensive capabilities while running backside to front. 

It is no accident or insidious capitalist warmongering plot that children play “hide and seek”, or running games like “keep away” which goes professional in soccer, football (both), basketball, or hockey.   This behavior like most childhood games is practice for what comes later in life, and is driven by coding in DNA.  Socialization only provides the details.

Some of kids play is not play but training, and it occurs naturally without any external input.

More serious “games”

Several important factors reduce or counter revulsion reflex include those activities where the mind is occupied with conscious engagement with a complex piece of hardware, like a laser range finder. Or upon rote reaction of certain responses that require the brain to focus on a few important things such as in calling for and adjusting fires like Fire Missions and Tank Gunnery Commands.  Those have to be done right despite foggy brains and fear. 


 This is the part when the loser is massacred on the run even if not edible.  Basketball, Soccer, Rugby, and Hockey (field and ice) are running games with the puck or ball representing the game’s game. This is the part when the family chows down on the defeated, the wounded are bayoneted, and the dead are stripped. In Medieval warfare, the casualties of the side that ran were horrific while in those battle with no panic, or run, American Football is more lethal. 

King Guy of Jerusalem surrenders to Saladin at the Battle at Hattin 1187


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fire and Maneuver, back then, right now and forever more.

Fire and Maneuver, back then, right now and forever more.

Extracted from Manuals available at ARMA

 Intercept. A smaller shield ranging from a foot to two feet across is also found in armies for as long as shields were carried.  This normally uses a “center grip” which is flexible but not strong, as such it is used to actively “intercept” the opponents’ warhead (blade, blunt, sharp)
I call this “contra attack” because I haven’t figured out a better name.  A counter attack is one in which the opponents fist is bypassed for a more lethal target.  The contra attack attacks the attack by intercepting the fist itself or any supporting parts (arms) which includes the Parry against the arm. 

The Tactical Imperative is taken into account in the design of units, equipment and tactics.  In this series the Tactical Imperative dominates when the Fist is in range in Time and/or Distance.  Therefore in the Fifties the skies over American cities were defended by the Nike-Ajax anti-aircraft missile system.  Thus, a tactical response able to reach and hit incoming Soviet aircraft should they appear.  When the ICBM became the strategic weapon of choice, the Nike-Ajax was deactivated but the bunkers are still there. It could not reach an incoming ICBM.

The Shield Wall or any other main force now or then is the hard place where the enemy forces will be pinned so that the rock won’t miss.  The Rock is the mobile force then or now that is the “stimulus” that goes with a necessary “response” to pin the enemy in place.   In order to make this happen it is necessary to apply other Tactical Imperatives.

This is classic “hide and seek” to conceal and hide defensively, and to blind and confuse as a “contra-attack” attacking the enemy force.  This has two major variants.  One in which the offensive force “pins” the enemy against an obstacle making it hard to move out of the way. Or, induces the enemy to attack a force in a good position which reduces the options that the enemy attacking force has.   US Army tactics in the Vietnam War worked better with attracting a VC/NVA attack against our overpowering fire power. I called it the ant hill approach.  We placed our fire bases astride enemy supply lines which they were committed to defend, by attacking us.

The Crusader defense of the Levant (Holy Land) used exactly the same tactical imperatives astride the lines of communication from hostile territory to important places the Latin Kingdoms had to protect.  Jerusalem instead of Saigon,   the Belen gap instead of the Fish Hook through which huge logistical columns had to pass.

The Temple’s original mission of protecting the pilgrims between Jaffa and the Holy sites in the Jordan Valley, especially Jerusalem itself to that of a Guard mission of protecting the Latin Kingdom’s critical terrain and the lines of communication for movement the length of the Levant against a land threat from all except the Mediterranean where the West had naval superiority.   As long as that superiority lasted the West could shift its power on a north-south axis by taking to the sea.  


As the Levant itself was extremely narrow, it was relatively easier for the enemies of the Kingdoms to drive to the sea for a temporary advantage.  Even though the Kingdom of Jerusalem was effectively removed as an entity, as long as Christianity retained naval superiority, it took another century for the Levant to be returned to Muslim control.

 The last important bastions of the Crusades in the Levant were Acre and Tortosa. So infuriating was the ability of the West to shift by sea from one and to the other, Saladin started a policy of destroying the ports on the Mediterranean. This policy was continued by the Mameluks and Ottomans until the Levant had a much reduced access for trade.   It was of considerable economic importance for the Ottomans that east-west trade went through either Cairo or Istanbul.

 The re-opening of the Levant started after WW 1, and is causing severe growth pains.

The islands of Crete, Cypress, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands controlled movement across the Mediterranean, north, south and east and west. At the beginning of the Crusader Era, these Islands were under Muslim control, by the end, they were in Christian hands.  The Ottoman Empire eventually retook Crete and Cypress along with Constantinople. The Turk retains control over Istanbul, the rest lost to the West in following centuries.  Whoever controlled those islands controlled the sea lanes hence trade and war. 

(IMHO), the differences between the tactical, the operational and the strategic is not one of absolute scale, but of the relation between that which is in range of firepower.  That which is in range of supplies and reinforcement is the operational.  And that which affects the choice of courses of action is strategic.  The tactical imperatives are scalable from rifleman to POTUS.
The constants in war are the terrain and the troops.   Technology including Tactics, techniques, and procedures (TT&P) make the difference.

Friday, June 6, 2014

War and the Polity

The Primal Conflict
Biology mandates that the Polity* must survive day to day, and generation to generation. Or in simpler terms, food and sex (dinner-date, paid & laid).  Without food the individuals die, without sex the Polity dies out.   Conflicts occur over priority access to one, the other or both.  Conflict over food or the means to obtain it, is no game. Conflict over Sex is all game.  And it is often hard to distinguish one from the other. 

*Polity is the group that is to survive or die. It can be external or internal or integrated.  This simplifies reference to tribes, battalion, villages, herds, pods, flocks, and/or schools.

The Warrior is both Hero and Villain.

In battle, the opponent has the same ROLE dynamics, in which the Knight goes on the offense, and appears as a Villain to the enemy.  The Offence then loses the moral stigma found in Psychological Games.  That goes to propaganda and Psychological Operations. Combat requires the combination of the Murderous Knight, the Manipulative Nurse, and the Mad Infant.
The Commander is both Mother and Father.

War isn't about being nice, except when it serves the interests of the Polity.  A commander of a Troop Unit must be both Father and Mother to the troops.  That is stated in US Army doctrine for leadership priorities as “the Mission and the Welfare of the Troops”.  The Mission usually has priority over the welfare of the troops, but not always and sometimes it is the other way around.


The enemy have their own templates with the same ROLES except that the RULES and TOOLS combine in ways unique to that opponent. As it is for one side or the other, the survival of the Polity and its war fighting body must be Protected and Nurtured and Grown.  Unlike the Dinner-Date Roles of the Polity, the Human Troop Units are not always biological.  New recruits for the Troop Unit are family, and/or raised from outside the Unit, trained (nurtured) and armed (protected) and the Father Commander (or Mother Commander) is responsible.  


Face:  Self-confidence in the self and the troop unit.
Fate:  The rules, regulations, doctrine, way of war and what happens in failure.  Or success. Yours and the enemy’s.
Fame: Recognition for service well done. Or not.
Fortune: In this case it is the specialty or military role of the troops and the troop unit. That may be infantry, cavalry, engineer, cook and commander. And it also means promotion or disgrace.

The Physical (and its effects)

Time & Distance: How fast and how far.
1968, Unit I was in support of on Thunder Road, QL 13
Ground:  Terrain analysis and the military use of the field of battle.  It also applies in the analysis of how the locals, enemies, and allies use the land.

Ridges and Rivers dominate movement, which movement one is interested in dominating in sex, war, and politics.  

Body:  This goes to not only feeding, but the protection and arming the same.
   Training is aimed at getting the most out of the body of the troops and the Troop Unit itself.  In this issue, we deal with the body as the fighting machines.

Relation of TCM to Medieval Fighting Styles

The hand stuff is a training aid to remember the RULES.


The Tools of the trade include hardware, software, tactic, technique, and procedure.  The success (or failure) of any combination to achieve the desired Tactical Imperative array link back through the RULES to enhance the standing of the ROLE.
My photos in 1968-9

Tactical Strategic Operations#

#Note: Tactics occurs in firing range, operations is getting in range, and strategy is messing with their minds.  These are not distinct levels, but concurrent at all levels one way or the other.   Failure in one can doom successes elsewhere.  Battle is the ultimate conversation, hence Combat Transactional Analysis must be comprehensive and include all the major factors: FOOD, FAMILY, ROLES, RULES and TOOLS.

At some point in time, the sides to a conflict eventually find a course of action that supports living to day to day, and generation to generation.   A successful one is one in which both sides profit from the agreement.  If not, there will be trouble.   Victory on the battlefield does not bring on Victory of the War.  It helps, but the NVA won in Vietnam as they only had to win the last one.  Then they had no clue as to how to run a nation.

 General Nathanael Greene, commander of the Southern Campaign in the American Revolution, left a series of battles leaving the British on the field, such as the Battle of Guilford Courthouse having lost more casualties than they could afford. This led directly to Yorktown, surrender and independence.
Shoulder to Shoulder remained in effect until 1915 in the mud of Flanders
Likewise, the battle tactics favored by Steppe nomads, upgraded when settled down made a specialty of a fake retreat, drawing the enemy into a huge trap. This also was a standard tactic in dealing with Western Knights who, once they charged, were hard to recall, if at all. 

Sun Tzu Says It Better:
 “The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.  These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline. 

The MORAL LAW causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

HEAVEN signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.

EARTH comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.

The COMMANDER stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness.

By METHOD AND DISCIPLINE are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.”

And with regard to deception, he says that “All warfare is based on deception

“Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him

If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant

If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.

If his forces are united, separate them.

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand”

The last note on OPSEC mitigates against divulging the commander’s intent and concept of operations.

F4F is a more tortured route coming to the same conclusions as did Sun Tzu. For the Warrior, sooner or later, it boils down to battle, or the threat thereof.   It gets down to the basics:  Smash something, grab something, and/or brag about it.

 The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942 smashed little, grabbed nothing, but the bragging about it brought Admiral Yamamoto to Midway that fateful day on June 4, 1942 that cost Japan four of its first line carriers.

Battle: Smash, Grab and/or Brag

One to one is a duel, battle is not a duel for it is many on many. Whether one, the many or the few, the purpose of battle is to grab something, smash something, and most importantly, to brag about something.   Four Japanese carriers were smashed, and Saladin took Jerusalem, mission accomplished!

 Victory is defined as to Who Goes, Who Stays, and Who Says So.

Courses of Action.  That something is when to stand, when to fold, when to attack and when to bring more stuff into the game (defend, attack, withdraw, or reinforce) are the standard courses of action that you think you know is going on.

A Tactical Victory (or other bragging right) with respect for the battlefield can be defined as who stays, who goes, and who says so.

The outcome of battles fought is often the result of happenstance, chance and fluke.  Napoleon preferred commanders who were lucky, regardless of competence.  Then again, there was Moscow where he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.