Thursday, May 14, 2009

Q & A - "...a totally different mindset..." - By Bradley J. Steiner

Dear Bob,

Could you ask Mr. Steiner for his input on this?

According to many of the articles and books I have read, the same hand-to-hand techniques taught to SOG members (SEALs, Special Forces, Force Recon, etc) are taught to the general population. What is it about the SOG soldiers that make them so much more dangerous than an ordinary soldier or even a civilian trained in the same manner? I have known a few people in military law enforcement and all have said the thing they dreaded most was having to apprehend one of the SOG members, due to the safety risk it put them in. My thinking is this group of people have been taught a totally different mindset to combat and self-defense. That being a mindset of balls-to-the-wall, survive at any cost way of thinking.



Hi Bob,

I LOVE contributing to your Forum!!

My reply to Keith:-

My personal association with members of the "special warfare community" dates back to the Vietnam era, and to the immediate post-Vietnam era (ie the 1970's). While I have instructed some few members in recent years of the Army' Special Forces and the Navy's SEALs, I am not as intimately familiar with their training as I once was. The feedback that members of the armed services "elite units" have given me, however, suggests that - today - their unarmed and hand-to-hand training is not at all impressive. Unfortunately, a too-great influence from the "groundfighting is everything" crowd has diluted "official" military close combatives to a dangerously inept level. I know of not one single combat veteran who has even a modicum of respect for the "official training" now given in this particular field. I had the pleasure of training two active duty Army Special Forces soldiers (combat vets) a couple of years ago. They refused to participate in "the nonsense" (their words!) that was being "passed off as hand-to-hand combat at Fort Lewis, here in Washington. They are both now in Afghanistan.

Often, special warfare personnel either train (or have trained) extensively on their own and/or they rely upon unofficial training from amongst their fellows who have trained in combat systems in order to acquire viable skills.

The same may be said, incidentally, for members of our intelligence community's "clandestine services". The lay public has a most inaccurate idea of how "formidably trained" the government's action personnel really are in close-in and hand-to-hand battle skills. Those who are really good are those who pursue the subject on their own, and outside the parameters of the courses that are "officially" administered during their preparatory career training.

Now, the question of "What makes these people so formidable, tough, and intimidatingly effective?"

First of all, selection and assessment for elite and action units is (or certainly was, when I had anything to do with them!) stringent and severe in the extreme. "Bodybuilders" are accustomed to the use of the term "easy gainers" to refer to people who put on muscle almost by merely looking at a barbell! Well, the elite and action services focus on selecting only those who have the prerequisite mental and physical capacities to excell in the sometimes impossibly demanding missions that these men are tasked with, once they qualify for acceptance. Such men are chosen for a combination of attributes that are very difficult to find: 1. Independent, autonomous thinking, while at the same time being excellent team members, and able to work effectively in a professionally qualified group, 2. An inventive and resourceful mind, 3. The ability and willingness (let us not mince words here) to kill, when necessary, without a tremor of hesitation, 4. Physical strength, endurance, hardihood, and tenacity FAR in excess of what even many professional athletes possess, 5. Courage: Raw, uncompromising intestinal fortitude to such an extreme that most would regard it as "reckless" - yet while possessing this degree of courage, at the same time having a total LACK of any tendency to be "thrill-seeking", a "showoff", or to be reckless. 6. A high intellect capable of quickly grasping and applying technical skills of all sorts. 7. The ability to function well under great stress, to exercise restraint and self-control, and to keep secrets.

Men in these occupations (ie men who qualify for entry into these occupations) additionally combine youth with natural athleticism and way above-average strength and ruggedness, coupled with mental determination that few possess in any field of endeavor - before they even begin training!

The inculcation of MINDSET is attendant all special warfare training in all services. Mission accomplishment - by any means - under the godawful conditions of combat behind enemy lines and against enormous odds, has always been uppermost in the mind of trainers and trainees for these types of units, and there is not the slightest question that supreme physical fitness and development, coupled with youth and a burning, unrelenting drive to WIN and to ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION contributes to the impressive formidability of these highly self-confident and justifiably proud members of the armed forces.

Training for these units is, please remember, a FULLTIME, total-immersion thing. Their instruction in hand-to-hand may not be extensive, but it is INTENSIVE, and no one in these units fails to appreciate - and to FEEL - what is at stake should he ever confront a lethal enemy during the course of his work. He is hammered quite forthrightly with what he MUST do - and do at once - in any combat situation. These men do not spend all day in an office amd then attend a couple of dojo workouts two evenings a week! They become and remain COMBAT-ORIENTED 24/7.

Another thing: These men do not have a "multitude" of options in combat (as, say, police do). Theirs is not to apply restraint holds, to effect arrests, or to control unruly individuals. They have but a single mandate: KILL OR BE KILLED. That finalizes things rather neatly, and establishes a pretty clear path to take when the rubber meets the road.

I hope that I have shed some light on the subject at hand.


Professor Steiner's American Combato Site
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