Made, Not Born: Why Some Soldiers Are Better Than Othersby Bruce Newsome
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
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.
What People are saying about this
"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."
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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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.
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.
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.