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

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

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by Bruce Newsome
     
 

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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

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.

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." - Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780275998318
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
09/30/2007
Series:
Praeger Security International Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
335 KB

What People are saying about this

Michael O'Hanlon
"Newsome zeroes in on a subject analysts often ignore—how good are a country's soldiers? When studying warfare, we tend to focus on weaponry and wealth, on generals and statesmen, on battle plans and grand strategies. Yet soldiers matter as much as all the above. At a time when our policies from Iraq and Afghanistan to Congo and Colombia depend on helping other countries develop strong, effective, dependable militaries—which are only attainable if they have good soldiers to fill them out—Newsome's approach could hardly be more timely."
Michael O'Hanlon

"Newsome zeroes in on a subject analysts often ignore--how good are a country's soldiers? When studying warfare, we tend to focus on weaponry and wealth, on generals and statesmen, on battle plans and grand strategies. Yet soldiers matter as much as all the above. At a time when our policies from Iraq and Afghanistan to Congo and Colombia depend on helping other countries develop strong, effective, dependable militaries--which are only attainable if they have good soldiers to fill them out--Newsome's approach could hardly be more timely."

Richard K. Betts
"An impressively comprehensive and trenchant investigation of one of the most important but understudied issues in military effectiveness."
Dr. Stephen Biddle
"The defense planning community has tended to overemphasize material contributors to combat effectiveness, with potentially serious consequences. Bruce Newsome helps to correct this tendency with a wide ranging tour d'horizon of one of the most important nonmaterial contributors: the performance of the individual soldiers that comprise the military organization."

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 PhD in Strategic Studies from the University of Reading, England.

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Made, Not Born: Why Some Soldiers Are Better Than Others 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Militarybuff More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book-Maven More than 1 year ago
The author falsely exagerates his own military experience in an attempt to sell himself as an expert in the field. He also tries to claim ownership and an intellectual edge on the idea of the need for effective decision making and claims that the military isn't already addressing this issue. Human Effectiveness which is an area that has historically been and is still being deeply researched is the basis of all military training particularly in the U.S. and U.K.