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On Combat by Lt. Col. Grossman and Loren Christensen

On Combat gives a detailed account of what happens to a human body goes through during stressful situations like war or combat of any kind. The authors, Grossman and Christensen have already written books on this subject. But the collaboration brings the best of both on this subject. (Winchell 2005) Lt. Col. Grossman has a military background. He has been a member of the Army Rangers. His book, On Killing was written long time back and is still useful for warriors, soldiers and police.

Through research/ interviews Grossman was able to explore the powerful warrior’s coping techniques because even if directly threatened, it is not easy to take another person’s life. Loren Christen was a police officer and is a co-author of ‘Deadly Force Encounters’. His experiences and research with co-author Alexis Artwohl has come handy for his new book, ‘On Combat’. (Winchell 2005) War not only has an adverse effect on political and economical ties between countries but it affects human body because it’s under constant stress.

On Combat is about the physiological and psychological impacts on human body because of deadly wars between two or more countries. This book not only peeks into the changes occurring in nervous system, circulatory system, visual and auditory responses which are brought by war, but also focuses on how such debilitations can be prevented so the warriors can survive and stay in the fight. (‘Summary’) Lt. Grossman and Christensen illustrate on the temperament of the warrior men and women who prepare their bodies to go to the extent from which others run away.

Subsequent to examining some true warriors in the battle, On Combat proposes a research which claims that fighters can train their mind and body so that they get impervious to the stress and pain. The book reveals that emotions such as self-blame, repentance and satisfaction or relief are natural coping strategies which can be healthy to recover from stress. The authors presented that concept in ‘Bulletproof Mind’ presentation. It gives the account of coping PTSD (Post traumatic stress syndrome) and how to survive it. (‘Summary’) There are four major segregations in the book.

Each segment is related to a special aspect of combat. The first part, ‘The Physiology of Combat: The Anatomy of the Human Body in the Battle’ contains description of Universal Human Phobia. The Phobia is regarding an innate human repugnance to killing one of his own. Only a small percentage of population will find it easy to take another human’s life. (Winchell 2005) On Combat describes various automatic responses which are not in control of human body. These responses are because of adrenaline rush in fight or flight conditions such as war.

Interpersonal human violence forms a ‘toxic and corrosive’ environment in the routine life of warriors. An astonishing but true fact about human body is ‘the moment of great vulnerability is the instant immediately after victory. ’ It may not only cause the person to pass out but mental damage could also be caused. On combat discusses how to overcome such conditions and regain normalcy. (Winchell 2005) According to the authors, Human body requires 7-9 hours uninterrupted sleep in order to maintain homeostatic balance. Less sleep will cause unwanted stress on mind and body.

This will result in malfunctioning of automatic processes such as digestion and blood circulation. The authors do agree that small amount of stress is good for health. But it should be caused by increase in heart rate. This increase must be because of SNS arousal. The authors emphasize that the increase in heart rate differs in terms of number of beats per minute, from person to person depending on their fitness levels. However on average 115-145 beats per minute produce effective performance in skills essential for combat and survival. (Winchell 2005) It is a critique on debriefing as well.

When warriors after a fierce or triumphant battle gather and share the series of events that occurred while they were on the battle field, they learn from each other. This is another coping strategy and it helps the fighters to heal from horror. The reader comes to know about an efficient breathing method which may help his mind and body to become stable. This technique can also be very useful in detaching emotion from the memory. (‘Summary’) Informing the readers about such responses and body functions was meant for making them realize the significant of stressful training.

This type of training can create autopilot response to dreadful threat. (Winchell 2005) One technique to cope from stress and its impacts is through breathing. The writers explain that two automatic nervous system actions can be consciously controlled; breathing and blinking. One technique to cope from stress and its impacts is through breathing. The writers explain that two automatic nervous system actions can be consciously controlled; breathing and blinking. They further explain the effectiveness of controlling breathing during stress. Deep belly breaths can decrease heart rate and reduce the stress. (Winchell 2005)

The four simple steps to this breathing are: In through the nose, two, three, four. Hold two, three, four. Out through the lips two, three, four. Hold two, three, four. (Winchell 2005) Second part of the book focuses on potential perceptual distortions that may take place during encounter. The information collected by Loren Christensen and Dr. Alexi Artwohl in writing their book ‘Deadlt Force Encounters’ comes handy. The findings reveal common distortions that might occur: such as tunnel vision, temporary paralysis, intensified or diminished sounds, heightened visual clarity and dissociation to name a few.

Some people may experience more than one type of distortions while others may experience none at all. (Winchell 2005) Third part of the book deals with mental attitude of a warrior. Important training principles are describes in this section of the book. Some of them are listed below: First Principle: Never kill a warrior in training. Tell them to always win. Second Principle: Never send a loser off the training site. Make the trainee attempt the task as many times as needed for him to succeed. Third Principle: Never talk rubbish about your students.

Don’t ridicule them because in doing so they might get embarrassed and discouraged or aggressive. If praise is necessary, do so. When confronted with violence, it is not the time to wonder whether to respond with a deadly force or not. The following chapters in this part talk about the history of weaponry (and its effect on combat), and some superior reckoning for the rise in violence. (Winchell 2005) The last section deals with the feeling after taking a life. Relief is the most common expression. This is because the warrior thinks, ‘Better him than me’. This feeling might not stay for long and can be overcome by grief and guilt.

Allowing the feeling of relief to proceed to guilt is not natural. The authors think that there are ways of tackling such emotional upheaval. In their opinion ‘talking about it’ helps. This is called debriefing; sharing information with others and learning. Debriefing a critical incident is an efficient way of helping the personnel in moving on from the incident. This way it doesn’t remain the sole burden of any one person but it is shared by the group. It is also a good way of relating to others in a group. The warrior feels normal among others. Another thing to do is detach ‘memory form emotions’.

Not going near the area an event occurred might be helpful in not attaching the emotions with the memory. (Winchell 2005) The closing of this book includes discussion on Judeo point of view of killing in battle and gives a detailed account of Lt. Col. Grossman’s insight to help warriors to understand the requirements to be strong in the battlefield. The chapters also focus on convincing the warriors to understand their actions in the battle fully and objectively. (‘Summary’) The last chapter focuses on importance of ethics and morality. It proficiently tries to convince the warriors to fight for justice and never sacrifice morality.

(‘Summary’) One of the major points mentioned in the book is the notion that killing should be for justice not revenge or vengeance. Taking a life is for a purpose to serve justice and not be puffed up and celebrate it. The happiness at the demise of a person is not the way to go ahead with. The feeling of relief is natural but happiness isn’t. (‘Summary’) This book is pregnant with ground breaking ideas, astounding findings, revealing quotes and anecdotes from people who were exposed to the mental and physical atrocities of war who share insight with others.

On Combat will appeal the young warriors because of the introduction of new techniques involving coping with stress. It is jam packed with information for veteran warriors as well. (‘Summary’) Bibliography: Summary for On Combat, Killology. com, ‘Killology Research Group’, n. d web, July 24, 2010 http://www. killology. com/book_oncombat_summary. htm Winchell, G. , On Combat, Amazon. com, March 25, 2005, web, July 23, 2010 http://www. amazon. com/review/R2EE3Y1NVSA699/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt? ie=UTF8&ASIN=0964920514&nodeID=#wasThisHelpful

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