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"Why soldiers get a kick out of killing" Topic

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16 Mar 2023 4:37 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from Utter Drivel boardCrossposted to Modern Discussion (1946 to 2011) board

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704 hits since 15 Mar 2023
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2023 8:35 p.m. PST

"Do some soldiers enjoy killing? If so, why? This question is thrust upon us by the recently released video of U.S. Apache helicopter pilots shooting a Reuters cameraman and his driver in Baghdad in 2007. Mistaking the camera of the Reuters reporter for a weapon, the pilots machine-gunned the reporter and driver and other nearby people.

The most chilling aspect of the video, which was made public by Wikileaks, is the chatter between two pilots, whose names have not been released. As Elizabeth Bumiller of The New York Times put it, the soldiers "revel in their kill." "Look at those dead bastards," one pilot says. "Nice," the other replies…"

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Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 5:51 a.m. PST

It is difficult to comment on any one individual mental health or moral character so I won't try. Does an all volunteer force have people more willing to kill others than the population at large? Probably.
Having been a military physician for 24 years I can tell you that for most people killing is not normal. If it is your job you have to find a psychological way to do that. A common strategy is to depersonalize the enemy and/ or make it a game.


Raynman Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 6:02 a.m. PST

Just treat it like a video game. People have no compunctions in playing video games and killing scores of people, so to keep ones sanity, treat it like a video game and not think about it. That's probably why so many GI's have demons when they come home, and also why there are so many suicides with military folks.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 6:24 a.m. PST

Tragic that what they thought was a dangerous enemy turned out to not be.

Sound like they were happy with a job well done. I can't imagine a different reaction when someone takes out an enemy who would happily do the same to you. A soldier shoots at an enemy and says "O god what have it done" would be more of a problem.

Titchmonster16 Mar 2023 8:03 a.m. PST

Col Dumford +1

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 10:21 a.m. PST

Col Durnford +2

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 11:06 a.m. PST

I have a friend that was on a clandestine operation by himself when two "neutrals" walked in and saw something they should not have seen or the entire operation would be compromised. Based on the standing orders he was given he had to "silently" eliminate both threats. He had nightmares and told his mom he was going to go to hell and he was an atheist at the time.


14Bore16 Mar 2023 12:27 p.m. PST

Killing is different than what I have thought for awhile, young men imo are easy to get fired up to destroy things. Maybe we killing is just another step.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 1:31 p.m. PST

Wolf, in my experience the air force and navy have it easier because the killing is not up close and personal.
Killing someone feet away is much harder particularly if they are not a direct threat to you or your friends.
Sounds like your friend needs to talk with someone to help allay himself of the guilt. As "the doc" I was relatively safe because I wouldn't gossip and I wasn't a shrink.


Ps Rayman. That is a big part of it. Another part is that they have been at war and the vast majority of the US and UK haven't and have no idea what they have been doing. This includes spouses and family sometimes.

Pps. Col Durnford agreed. Where did you serve?
Col Legan

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 3:42 p.m. PST


Did not serve, only a LEO in my ill spent youth.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 3:44 p.m. PST


Did not serve, only a LEO in my I'll spent youth. Col Durnford is a tribute to the Zulu War leader of the NNC.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 3:56 p.m. PST



Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2023 4:39 p.m. PST

Yes, the book, "On Killing" mentions the difference in killing from a distance. But now they are finding out that remote drone operators are suffering from the same PTSD effects as guys in real combat. It appears it's not just the physical trauma but also being intimately involved in the close-up graphic images.

The 1st Radio Battalion at Camp Pendleton normally had a "Friday Night at the movies" in the SCIF. The unit performed signal intelligence to other units and agencies to identify and locate high-value targets that were normally hit by a drone Hellfire strike or terminated in other ways. They even had a popcorn machine! They see the result of the fruits of their labor watching and celebrating as bad guys are terminally brought to justice.

A memorable one was a guy racing down a road on a dirt bike. The Hellfire hit the driver and then exploded throwing the bike into the air. The gyroscopic effect of the wheels kept the bike upright and it landed perfectly and kept going without the driver for about 30 yards. It was all good fun for them at the time.

I would stop by and visit their unit once in a while and it always seemed someone was passing around his cell phone with the latest "snuff videos".


Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2023 6:35 a.m. PST

CD, Thank you for your honesty.
Wolf, the drone operators have it bad. 8 to 12 hours of horror then off to watch your kids baseball game or take a Skype call from your wife and you can't tell anyone what you are doing.
I saw the motorbike film or a similar one; crazy.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2023 3:30 p.m. PST

One thing is when you kill at distance… and another when you see the eyes of your opponent…


Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2023 5:58 a.m. PST



Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2023 6:36 a.m. PST

The SigInt Drone team of Westerners in Ukraine I help support had (up until a week ago) a rented house 10 miles SW of Bakhmut for a team of 6-12 guys. They drove to Bakhmut to begin their 16-18 hour shift. There were no traffic jams on the road but since it was under Russian observation they ran through intermittent mortar and artillery fire up to 152mm.

The 152s sunk too far into the ground to be dangerous other than a direct hit, just lots of dirt. The 120mm mortar round QA is so bad most rounds are 1% to 3% heavier or lighter than specification so the impacts are normally short or long.

They'd pull up to a building close to the action and go upstairs to set up their "office" (SatCom, computers, antennas, signal equipment, etc) to start their FO work calling in artillery and sending drones to locations they triangulated with the signal processing equipment using thermal binoculars link

The images and video are closer and sharper than regular US drones flying at 20,000 feet. Sometimes the night shift puts on their NVGs and leads the local Ukie defenders on counterattacks, trench raids, and close combat. It's pretty much non-stop action in a target-rich environment and it's not unusual for a day's work to result in dozens of confirmed KIA and up to a half dozen vehicles destroyed. After their shift, they commute back "home", write up their AARs, prepare for their next shift, drink large quantities of alcoholic beverages, and then get a restless 4-6 hours of sleep.

There was one Western team leader that cracked up and barricaded himself in his room and threatened to blow up the building. Sometimes the local Ukie reservists that get attached to their team will just disappear and go back home.

In the four months this team has been active in Bakhmut they have not lost anyone but have had several close calls and may have been spotted. They had a few guys that had enough and went back home. The Westerners can leave anytime. Only time will tell how the guys will handle it in the future. The ones I've talked to admitted to being burnt out, have a short temper and should go home but won't. Their pay is about $1,000 USD US a month. For the number of hours they work it's below minimum wage. They pay for almost everything except weapons and ammo.

My grandfather was a stretcher bearer in WWI during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He went through hours-long artillery barrages and was gassed. He had to go out into No Man's Land sometimes in knee-deep mud and bring back the WIA and KIA. If a car backfired or he was surprised by a loud noise he'd hit the ground shaking. He never got over it and died at 55.

From my conversations with them, I get the impression they are enjoying the killing too much and there is lots of gallows humor. Just my opinion.


Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2023 7:34 p.m. PST

Wolf, maybe your friends are enjoying it. Some people are addicted to the adrenaline rush and excitement of it all more than killing per sa. There are a subset of humans that enjoy killing but they are very rare and I have fortunately never met one.
PTSD was pretty common after WW I but of course was not really a diagnosis back then unless very severe and debilitating.


Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP20 Mar 2023 5:33 a.m. PST

Being Gulf War/WoT vets it's a different type of war for them. Previously, there were restricted ROEs, a strict Chain of Command, a high level of accountability, and little ability to exercise individual initiative with the enemy seemed to always have the initiative to strike first. Most of the volunteers didn't re-enlist in their military because there was little chance of deployment and the military was going Woke big time.

In Ukraine, the Western units are volunteers that have a lot of latitude of action, especially for the first 6 months of the war. You could not coordinate operations because there was little ability for secure communications. You had to do recon patrols into the gray zone to get information. The lines were mostly static with no real offensives until Sept 2022 when they broke out of the Kharkiv area.

In Bakhmut and some other areas, it's a target-rich environment. The unit does SigInt, arty FO, and drone operations so they can pick and choose where they want to operate in an assigned area. They stay stealthy and are rarely targeted directly. I think when you are doing all of the killings and rarely getting shot at it's an ideal situation for a warfighter. It's all fun and games until you get a sucking chest wound. Plus, they can turn down assignments and leave whenever they want and go back to a nice place to rest up. Contrast that with the Ukie nationals that are manning the trenches and doing most of the dying. They are having real PTSD problems.

The tempo of the operations is very high, not like sitting around in a FOB waiting for something to happen. So if you like action Bakhmut is the place to be. They don't seem to be worried about how they'll deal with it later.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2023 3:31 p.m. PST

In my little experience… from the first combat…I remember three types of people faced with the possibility of killing another human being… the GREAT majority with fear, rejection and even open rebellion to do so… a second group accepting the fact With great regret and what some would call "professionalism"… the last and smallest (fortunatelly) were those who were born for it and enjoy such savagery with fruition…

I'm talking about a conscript army… not professional.


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