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I put clothes on these targets and polyurethane heads.
I cut up a cabbage and poured catsup into it and put it back together.
I said, 'When you look through that scope, I want you to see a head blowing up.'"Grossman spends an entire section detailing the plight of the Vietnam veteran, trained in these methods and killing at a rate unparalleled in human history.
The human revulsion for killing is not conditioned away in these men, merely suppressed.
But patrols are given orders not to engage the enemy under almost any circumstances - they are not required to kill, and therefore their level of psychological trauma is low. He then goes on to discuss how modern militaries, recognizing this issue, have worked to overcome soldiers' natural resistance to killing and have subsequently increased firing rates.
Whereas in WWII, only 15-20% of infantry fired their rifles, 50% of soldiers in Korea did so and almost 90% of soldiers did so in Vietnam.
That was a major reason for the German bombing of Allied cities, and the Allies' bombing of German civilians.
The war was already causing incredible numbers of PCs (there were more allied PCs than soldiers killed by enemy fire during WWI) and it was thought that civilians would be much less prepared to deal with the horrors of war. Could it be that, as rough as things were for civilians in a besieged city, the one thing they were not forced to do was kill?
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Soldiers were resorting to a number of options, anything that meant that they didn't have to kill. When the fighting at Gettysburg was over, 27,574 muskets were found on the battlefield. Given that loading a weapon took roughly twenty times as long as firing it, the chances of these muskets representing mostly soldiers cut down just as they intended to shoot are slim.
But then how do you explain the 12,000 multiply-loaded weapons, with 6,000 of them loaded with 3-10 rounds apiece?
However, none of this means that Grossman doesn't have some incredibly thought-provoking things to say. These results can be found throughout time and across cultures, from Alexander the Great who lost only 700 men in years of fighting, to tribesmen in New Guinea who remove the arrows from their feathers before going off to war, to the soldiers at Rosebud Creek in 1876 who fired 252 rounds for each Native American they hit.
This book was written to explain a startling fact: throughout most of military history, up until the end of World War II, the vast majority of soldiers (between 75 and 95%) have refused to kill. The Battle of Gettysburg is considered one of America's bloodiest battles, but as Grossman shows, it could have been a great deal bloodier.