Made, Not Born: Why Some Soldiers Are Better Than Others

Overview

Why do the combat capabilities of individual soldiers vary so much? This book seeks to provide an answer to this and other questions about variability in combat performance. Some soldiers flee quickly from the battlefield, while others endure all hardships until the bitter end. Some combat units can perform numerous types of missions, while others cannot keep themselves organized during peacetime. Some militaries armed with obsolete weapons have out fought enemies with the latest weapons, just as some massively ...

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Made, Not Born: Why Some Soldiers Are Better Than Others

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Overview

Why do the combat capabilities of individual soldiers vary so much? This book seeks to provide an answer to this and other questions about variability in combat performance. Some soldiers flee quickly from the battlefield, while others endure all hardships until the bitter end. Some combat units can perform numerous types of missions, while others cannot keep themselves organized during peacetime. Some militaries armed with obsolete weapons have out fought enemies with the latest weapons, just as some massively outnumbered armies have beaten back much larger opponents. In this first social scientific study of the effectiveness of combat troops, Newsome evaluates competing explanations for the varying combat capabilities and performances.

There are four main explanations, each emphasizing the influence of a single factor. The first focuses on material endowments. How well funded are the troops? Do they have the latest protective gear and the most advanced weaponry? Second, some analysts claim that democracies produce better commanders, superior strategies, more motivated personnel, or better-managed personnel; others, however, associated those characteristics with more authoritarian forms of government. Third is the idea that giving more power to the troops on the ground in individual combat units empowers them with decision-making capability and adaptability to fast-changing situations and circumstances. Newsome presents evidence that decentralized personnel management does correlate with superior combat performance. Fourth, soldier capabilities and performance often are assumed to reflect intrinsic attributes, such as prior civilian values. Newsome argues that the capabilities of combat soldiers are acquired through military training and other forms of conditioning, but he does not entirely discount the role of a soldier's individual character. In the age-old nature vs. nurture argument, he finds that intrinsic qualities do count, but that extrinsic factors, such as training and environment, matter even more.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Newsome tackles the question of whether good soldiers are born or made in this well-researched, important book. He argues that the capabilities and performance of combat personnel are a function of the military training, socialization, and aspects of the conditioning designed into the system that produces a soldier. The notion that the military itself produces good soldiers runs counter to much of the military sociology literature, which typically focuses on the intrinsic qualities of those who choose and succeed within a career in the armed forces, essentially concluding that some have what it takes to be a good soldier and some do not. Newsome's thesis is an instructive one. If soldiers are made, not born, then the structure of the military training and socialization process is the key to combat performance; different military training processes yield different levels of combat effectiveness. Consequently, the performance levels of a nation's military can be improved with innovations in training and conditioning. The research design is excellent and the book is well grounded in theories from numerous perspectives: political, sociological, organizational, and psychological. Recommended. Graduate, research, and professional collections."

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Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275998301
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/30/2007
  • Series: Praeger Security International Series
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 1,241,929
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

BRUCE NEWSOME is a research policy scientist at RAND in Santa Monica, California, where he has published on international relations, national security, terrorism, personnel and operations management, training, and modeling and simulations. He has a Ph.D. in Strategic Studies from the University of Reading, England.

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Table of Contents


Introduction     1
Domestic Politics     10
Combat Personnel Management     17
Force Employment, Command, Leadership, and Decision-Making     54
Combat Stress and Cohesion     85
Combat Motivation     107
Athleticism and Special Operations     134
Conclusion     147
Notes     157
Select Bibliography     195
Index     205
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2012

    Very accessible book that challenges the myths about soldiers -

    Very accessible book that challenges the myths about soldiers - it draws form management and organizationa theories and shows the detailed steps that organizaitons can take to produce superior soldiers, rather than rely on their intrinsic attributes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    A really well written book which was definitely worth purchasing

    A really well written book which was definitely worth purchasing. He has chapters on cohesion (this was excellent), motivations, leadership, command skills, decisionmaking, stress, athleticism, and special operations forces. At the beginning he compares the relationship between the political system and the quality of the soldier and doesn't think politics really explains how soldiers are prepared for war. He then makes a more detailed comparison between regimental and other systems and decides that training, rotation, replacement, and other processes are more important to the soldier's eventual capability than the civilian's intrinsic capacity. He also gives valuable historical examples which help to support the research.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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