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What strategies does the military use to train soldiers to kill?

For a human being to kill another human being is definitely not a natural and easy thing to do. Soldiers who go to war are faced with many dangers and very often, unpredictable. In order to survive and not get killed by their enemies, they must kill them before the others do.

What are the processes and strategies that the military use to alter mind of a human being to become a soldier is not afraid of taking another people's life?

Soldiers from the Vietnam war were trained to survive surprise attacks. Killing becomes their instinct when they are faced with danger or even surprise.

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    Lejan .

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    Nov 8 2012: Well, first of all, any soldier needs to be convinced, that he and his comrades are 'the good guys', which, consequently, makes all the soliders on the other side the 'bad guys'. This concept may seem simple, yet it is crucial, and this not only to soliders, even the whole nation needs to think this way for the general support.

    At this point and for western nations, the vocabulary usually contains words like 'freedom', 'human rights', 'humanity', 'innocent people', etc. which can, but do not necessarily have to be true. Remember, soliders on both sides have to think that they are the 'good guys', so just by logic at least one side got fooled.

    Those of us who live in western states do not need to worry, as we are always the 'good guys', per definition, because democracy is guarantee...

    So once this is set and the troops in action, the value system got to be shifted further. Concepts like 'we are all humans' does not really help here, obviously, so don't mention that and tweak on other issues. Because the others are the 'bad guys' that makes the value of their lifes already questionable. They may also kill woman, children and old people. They have no mercy, honor or anything else positive. They are the incarnation of EVIL!

    So for soliders in warfare, this 'black/white' concept is then accompanied by a simple choice of either 'You and/or your buddy' or 'Them', which by its nature and enemy fire is then 'pretty simple' to make.

    The internal worst case scenario for any army is, to have their soliders in doubt in doing 'the right thing', because this is what seperates them from mercenaries.

    So if you want people to kill other people, you have to make sure they see that 'the moral' is on their side. This is why heroes are not seen as killers, even though they may have taken many lifes.

    The rest is simply done my command and obedience, discipline, group spirit and drilling and, for special forces, killing of animals to get used to those kind of businesses.
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      Nov 8 2012: Good reply. You left out one important thing. Video games. It was the US Dept. of Defense that invented violent video games to desensitize people when it comes to killing.

      then, during target practice, after the first few shots, an outline of a human is used thereafter

      During bayonet practice, straw men are used, with a heart attached in the proper place.

      But you have to make sure that in spite of all that you and I have mentioned, you have the right chaplains in place, because it is hard for most to kill in spite of the indoctrination. That's where the chaplains step in to support the indoctrination and assure the murderer that God is OK with what he did.
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    Nov 7 2012: We who have been, or are now, members of the military knew going in that the military has one ultimate purpose: to carry-out the will of the Commander-In-Chief. If the President believes a credible threat exists he can deploy forces into harm's way in order to protect America. In that place called Harm's Way the game is serious, deadly serious. Each member of the military recognizes the reality of taking a life in the line of duty. Those who cannot accept that reality will likely avoid military service. So, my answer to your question is that military recruits do not need to be subjected to behavior modification strategies or moral indoctrination. Whether they pull the trigger, or issue the rifle, or cook the food, each military person knows they are part of the ultimate mission which is to convice the enemy to surrender.
    • Nov 7 2012: The proportion of recruits who are ready to kill from the get go is certainly higher than it was during WW2, Korea or Vietnam but still the majority of recruits have no idea what they're getting into because they're only 18 or join because they can't find other work.
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        Nov 7 2012: Thank you for the reminder that my experience is very likely outdated. Today's recruit is probably not the kind of person in my recollection. People actually join the military today because they can't find other work? I don't know how they survive the regimentation, severe discipline, and curtailed freedom if their motivation is no deeper than a need for a paycheck. But, there again, today's military culture is probably not identical to the one I remember.
        • Nov 7 2012: "People actually join the military today because they can't find other work? I don't know how they survive the regimentation, severe discipline, and curtailed freedom if their motivation is no deeper than a need for a paycheck."

          You'de be surprised what people are willing to put up with when the alternative is scraping by on food stamps in a crime ridden neighborhood with no accomplishments to make your relatives proud of you. And all those 18 year olds, how can they know what they are getting into? It's only because recruitment quotas couldn't otherwise be met that the military accepts 18 year old recruits.

          Anyway, it seems the OP wants to hear from combat veterans, so I'll shut up now.
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        Nov 7 2012: The aspects you itemized represent a lot more than just a paycheck. They really are motivated to succeed even though it's not about patriotism or sense of duty. They will probably need some time to get comfortable with the idea of killing other humans. Finally I am getting the point of Mr. Loi's post and I realize I have nothing of value to contribute. B-bye!
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    Nov 7 2012: I don't think there is an elaborate strategy or a necessity for that. Not all killing is evil; not all killings are murders just as not all sex is adultery or fornication. So, in your own words:

    "Soldiers who go to war are faced with many dangers and very often, unpredictable. In order to survive and not get killed by their enemies, they must kill them before the others do."

    A soldier should be fighting for what he or she really believes in; and thus should be able to stand by such belief and die for it if need be. Its about survival; its about patriotism; its about belief.
    Even people that are tagged 'killers' as if they are some vermin are just human beings like us who made the wrong choice. There is no need for any complicated process of mind alteration for someone to fight in a war or to kill another person.
    A terrorist kills because of his or her belief in religion/religious leaders; a US marine would do the same for patriotism.
    • Nov 7 2012: "a US marine would do the same for patriotism."

      That's where you're wrong. Most US marine need a lot of training to be able to kill people in anything else than a direct self-defense scenario. Most people are not "patriotic" enough to just kill whenever the politicians ask them to.
    • Nov 7 2012: I think patriotism is a belief and a drive that leads a person to go to war. Even though we have a mindset to survive, most of us are not born to take away someone's life naturally or for the purpose of survival.

      When I was studying a law course in high school eight years ago, my teacher was giving a lecture
      on a very unique case of involuntary manslaughter. A Vietnam veteran returned home from the war.
      He was trained to adapt guerilla warfare. Very often soldiers must always be ready for any surprise
      attack even while they were sleeping in trenches and caves. So when the veteran returned to his
      own home, it was very late at night. So the veteran decided to sleep in the living room because
      he did not wanted to disturb and wake up his wife and daughter. In the morning, the daughter
      saw his dad sleeping in the living room. She ran over to wake him up. Due to the veteran’s training
      during the war, his natural instinct was to protect himself and to kill anything that surprise them.
      Unfortunately, he woke up by surprise, acted naturally and killed his own daughter.

      I really think there's more than survival and patriotism; therefore I really want to more this "embedded" instinct especially from someone who has been trained to do so.
  • Nov 7 2012: Hi Fritzie,

    I am a university student currently studying at the Ontario College of Art and Design University within the graphic design degree program.

    Presently, I am undertaking a project based on an original primary research generated from the form of an interview or conversation. The goal is to find someone that I can talk to (who I have never met before) who has specialized knowledge in a field that I believe my peers would find intriguing. Most importantly, the topic/subject must be in the area of my interest.

    The ultimate goal is to find an opportunity for me as an academic student to learn something that I have always wanted to learn and to utilized my graphic design skills to re-create this conversation into an interesting layout format.

    My objective here is to seek an individual to speak to someone who has been in the war, possibly in Vietnam, Korea, or in the Middle East regions. I am interested in finding out about their experience during their service and training.

    The area of interest and questions lies within the topics of resistance against guerilla warfare and the training process of resisting guerilla warfare. These might include their experience on the battlefield, their experience in defending from enemies’ ambush, and how they survived these ambushes.

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      Nov 7 2012: Thank you, Andy for this explanation.

      I think you might want to revise your question statement to indicate that you are specifically interested in a response from actual combat veterans. Otherwise you are likely to get lots of theories from those without immediate experience who are able mainly to theorize for you about human nature without actually knowing what military training includes..

      You have probably thought of this, but I hope you are also posing your question to places where there might be a concentration of combat veterans.
  • Nov 7 2012: "What are the processes and strategies that the military use to alter mind of a human being to become a soldier is not afraid of taking another people's life?"

    The most important one is training soldiers to the point where they don't have to think about their actions, they just act out what they've been trained to do under the situation. This way it goes from conscientious killing to re-enacting a training scenario, this is also just plain necessary because most people would freeze up or run away to safety if they came under fire unless they have been trained repeatedly to act differently. Also, in modern warfare shooting someone does not automaticaly mean killing someone: modern small arms wound more often than they kill (this bogs up the enemy because they have to take care of their wounded and makes it less worse when you shoot a civilian by accident) and most combatants will wear body armor. Of course aircraft and vehicles will usually kill their targets but that's different because the operators don't get to see the faces of their targets.

    Some people can kill without the training, these become special forces, others get desensitized from experience and become commanders in the field (commanders higher up in the chain are educated officers who seldomly enter the battlefield).

    All of the above is about modern armies, guerilla armies often use drugs or religious/ethnic hatred to get their troops to kill. Modern armies have it easier than they used to because they are smaller (compared to the population of their homelands) than they used to be and are mostly all-volunteer so they are more likely to get recruits who have a "talent" for killing than in the past.
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    Nov 7 2012: Hi, Andy. I don't know what you need this research for, but since it is a factual question, make sure also to do an internet search, which should give you a lot of reliable information quickly with sources you can cite.