Small Wars Journal

Technology and Training

Technology and Training

With advances in technology in the advent of the information age, IPhones and IPads can now assist us in land and aerial navigation, survey and census collection, and basic communication via text and email.

One the one hand, these innovations are combat multipliers because they can make our jobs easier. On the other hand, they come with two significant drawbacks: 1. Apps are open source and provide our enemies access to their utility, 2. The ease of function can diminish our military's understanding and comprehension of basic military techniques.

In reference to training and education, these problems are easily resolved- train your troops with the basics first. New platoon leaders and young sergeants should learn the basics of using compass and a map. Once these tasks are mastered, the technology becomes an additional asset but not mission essential.

As the military continues to evolve and improve, Jeff Schogol, The Stars and Stripes' Rumor Doctor, weighs in to answer Has the Army eliminated bayonet training?

Warfare has evolved since Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin led the bayonet charge down Little Round Top to save the Union army at Gettysburg, so it wasn't a surprise when media outlets reported the Army had dropped bayonet training as part of the sweeping changes to basic training that went into effect in July.

But the Army insists it has not abandoned the bayonet. While soldiers may no longer be learning how to fix a bayonet to the end of a rifle and stab an enemy, they are still learning to use the bayonet, just in a different way.

Times are a changing, but with an emphasis of getting back to the basics, our military will maintain combat effectiveness. All this requires is good leadership.


Bill M.

Sun, 03/13/2011 - 10:08pm

Regardless if it is bayonet or knife fighting I think one important take away is ensuring we're at least training our service members in realistic basic close combat skills, and more importantly the attitude required to effectively employ those skills (there was some value to the spirit of the bayonet even if it isn't considered a desirable weapon anymore).

Many service members practice and achieve advanced skills in various martial arts, but I think we should consider returning to a basic combatives course that focuses on learning movements that only require gross muscle skills and engrain in the warrior's psychic that when they're in close combat they are fighting for their lives, so use anything available as a weapon such as a knife, their helment to smash it in the enemy's face, etc. With our current focus on jujitsu like training I think we're engraining a mindset where some service members assume close combat has rules and may be shocked by the reality of real fight with an opponent who isn't encumbered by this mindset, he only seeks to kill you by any means possible.

I think the Army's combative program is pretty good, but I also think the WWII kill or be killed approached must be taught first. We shouldn't teach our guys and gals to fight fair. Training for combat instead of police actions should remain our primary focus, and one they learn how to survive in a dirty life or death struggle, we can move on to more advanced skills focused on controlling opponents for our police like deployments to Haiti, Bosnia, etc., where we desire to use as little force as possible to controll a situation.

Tyrtaios (not verified)

Sun, 03/13/2011 - 6:31pm

It isn't lost on me that the crux of the message is a return to basics. . .always a good thing.

However, I found the Rumor Doctor's analysis amusing because he first mentions Soldiers were bringing personal knives to the fray (imagine that?), but didn't know how to use them.

Presumably he meant as a combat tool, as opposed to being proficient at slicing and dicing salami sent by mom from home? The good Doctor goes on to describe a demonstration where in the end, a Soldier essentially pig sticks (my phrase) his enemy into submission with a bayonet.

Am I to infer we are thinking of replacing a knife with a bayonet? Because in my mind, a spade is a shovel or conversely a shovel is a spade, and if one does not know how to dig with a shovel, one probably will not do well with a spade.

So are we teaching bayonet fighting or in reality, knife fighting by a differant name?

Incidentally, as a minor Civil War authority of little prominence, it was always my understanding that by the time Chamberlain made his bayonet attack down the hill, Oates had received orders to shift to the left to support the right of the Texan's, thus Chamberlain's attack hit mostly thin air except for a few stragglers and the southern dead and dying, his attack having been embellished throughout history as to its strategic significance?