Train the Same as You Fight

Unique Leadership Axiom: Habits Win! (Or Loose…)

Whatever you do, you have trained and practiced to be your best. As a soldier you have been through basic and now you are in advanced training. You are going to be a rifleman. So you go to the quartermaster to draw your equipment.  There are pounds of it, but no weapon! … No rifle! Why?

A bureaucrat in D. C. was afraid of what lawyers might do to his career if the trainee has hearing damage as a result of training with live ammunition. When a weapon is fired, hot gas billows out behind the bullet. Billow instantly becomes “muzzle blast”, a shock wave that hits the shooter before the bullet hits the target. The shock wave may cause hearing damage.  A bureaucrat might have to experience a bump on his road to power.

Do bureaucrats worry about a soldier dying in combat because he was not trained to fight and win? We will never know.

Back in the ’60s, when this travesty actually happened there were Army Generals who were determined to ensure a soldier combat was trained to win and survive. They tore up organization charts and launched a research program that would both protect the soldier while training with live ammunition and allow him the training that supported both survival and victory. The courage of these Generals did not get them medals. It gave them the satisfaction of doing the right thing. The accepted experts predicted that a solution would take 15 years; the Generals’ research program was executed successfully in 30 months.

Once again operational training became possible. The Generals’ lifetime of service in obedience to the code of Duty, Honor, and Country had mandated action in support of principles. One of those principles is “we train as we fight”. In moments of stress it is natural to function reactively, not analytically. To survive a life-or-death situation, you must do “a” right thing. Sorting through the possibilities is a process that takes time. In combat the one factor that you never have is enough time. In order to compensate for that lack “we train as we fight”. Casualties are highest amongst the greenest troops. It is about Casualties vs. preparation for Combat. If you send inadequately trained soldiers into combat you shorten their lives.

So what is this blog post about? It is about winning and surviving. Most of the people reading this post have not been, are not now, nor ever will be in combat. But, in fact we all are at risk in some way and if we are not prepared to deal with that risk then we become casualties. We all are interested in a smoothly paved route to a long and successful life. It is all about mastering the world we live in. As I have said before, that route is created by mastery. Immediate correct action is a hallmark of mastery and that is what the Army obtains with the doctrine of “we train as we fight”.

Leadership Focus:

  • All our responses are a microcosm of training and experience.
  • Training creates high levels of skill integrated into the microcosm.
  • Mastering these skills becomes the cornerstone of survival.

My Take: Richard Smith wrote a funny book entitled: Everything I Need to Know I Learned from My Dog. If you have trained a dog, then you know the real story about training:

  • It requires respect for the dog,
  • It requires time,
  • It requires patience,
  • It requires consistency, and
  • It requires persistence.

It returns dependable, instantaneous response to the training trigger.

Training as you fight gets you half way there. Add thoughtfulness and you have mastery.

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