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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Yes, let's cultivate an enhanced ability to handle combat stress and slip back into life at home
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Monday, September 07, 2009

Yes, let's cultivate an enhanced ability to handle combat stress and slip back into life at home

back on 18 august, i posted on an nyt article that was evidently talking about the same thing (see Let's make our troops into cyborgs that can shake off that annoying malaise after killing people)... now time magazine is writing about the same thing...

is this how we want to condition our troops...? do we really want them to be able to kill and then just shrug it off...? is it just me or is this some really creepy shit...?

Samurai Mind Training for Modern American Warriors


Think military and you think macho, not meditation, but that's about to change now that the Army intends to train its 1.1 million soldiers in the art of mental toughness. The Defense Department hopes that giving soldiers tools to fend off mental stress will toughen its troops at war and at home. It's the first time mental combat is being mandated on a large scale, but a few thousand soldiers who have participated in a voluntary program called Warrior Mind Training have already gotten a taste of how strengthening the mind is way different - dare we say harder? - than pounding out the push-ups.

Warrior Mind Training is the brainchild of Ernst and two friends, who were teaching meditation and mind-training in California. In 2005, a Marine attended a class in San Diego and suggested expanding onto military bases. Ernst and her colleagues researched the military mindset, consulting with veterans who had practiced meditation on the battlefield and back home. She also delved into the science behind mind training to analyze how meditation tactics could help treat - and maybe even help prevent - post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rooted in the ancient Samurai code of self-discipline, Warrior Mind Training draws on the image of the mythic Japanese fighter, an elite swordsman who honed his battle skills along with his mental precision. The premise? Razor-sharp attention plus razor-sharp marksmanship equals fearsome warrior.


The benefits of Warrior Mind Training, students have told instructors, are impressive: better aim on the shooting range, higher test scores, enhanced ability to handle combat stress and slip back into life at home. No comprehensive studies have been done, though a poll of 25 participants showed 70% said they felt better able to handle stressful situations and 65% had improved self-control.

i'm all for meditation... i've been practicing it on and off since the late 80s, it's taken me in some very positive directions and, quite honestly, has helped lead me to a place in my life more positive and satisfying than i would have ever thought possible... but the aim of this effort creeps me out...

personally, i don't WANT to blow somebody to bloody bits and come away unaffected... in fact, the very LAST thing in this world i could ever imagine doing is blowing someone to bloody bits... i managed to spend 18 months in vietnam without firing a weapon and four - soon to be five - visits to afghanistan without witnessing death (not that i'm not highly aware that it's been all around me), and have found even those experiences to be profoundly disturbing... i simply can't imagine how i would be impacted by the immediate, visceral reality of death and destruction right in my face...

the other thing about this article that really disturbs me is the whole concept of "warrior"... i've posted several times previously on this and i think it's worth repeating one of them here...

from 14 january 2008

i've posted previously (here and here) on the increasing and deeply disturbing prevalence of the term "warrior" to describe those we send off to fight and die protecting the "interests" of our nation monied elites... here's another, equally disturbing one that just caught my attention...

from a lockheed martin press release...

“Lockheed Martin continues to focus on providing our Warfighters with new and innovative technologies that will make their jobs easier,” said Lionel Liebman, manager of Program Development – Applied Research at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

also interesting that "warfighter" is capitalized...

what the increasing visibility of these terms suggests to me is that we are continuing to be slowly inculcated to seeing war as an integral part of our society... yes, it's true, that serving our country via military service has, at least in the past, been seen as an honorable calling, whether it's just for one hitch or for a career... these people have always been known variously as "members of the military," "career military," "soldiers," "sailors," "airmen," "marines," or, simply, "our troops"... all of those sobriquets implied government service, love of country, defense of freedom, etc., etc...

but what is implied by "warrior" and "warfighter"...? to me, for one thing, they do NOT imply any of those other things... "warrior," for instance, for me, calls to mind warrior nations like sparta, where the entire society was devoted to conquest, or to descriptions of the marauding huns, usually characterized as a "warlike" people... the only "service" implied is service to death and destruction... "warfighter" is even more chilling... to me, that word implies a weapon of advanced technology, an implement, if you will, of accomplishing that death and destruction...

words are powerful and the words we choose to use convey a great deal about our beliefs and views of the world... "warrior" and "warfighter" make my skin crawl...

my skin is still crawling...

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