Archive for June, 2010

A 2LT shared this video link with me last week. He said a fellow officer had sent it to him earlier, and they both thought it’d be “cool” (it’s easy to forget that they’re still teenagers, hence the parlance) if the SAF had something similar.

In a nutshell, the video’s about how the US military, cooperating with the best special effects people from Hollywood, have come up with training areas that mimick real combat environments and situations. These training environments can now realistically simultate exploding IEDs, RPGs, and serious battle injuries, all with the flash of the explosion and the splash of arterial spray.

Warning: It gets pretty graphic!

The video is indeed pretty impressive. Most, I think, would say this is a must have for all modern militaries preparing for war.

Or is it really?

The SAF may indeed consider implementing such a training regime. In fact, I won’t be surprised if that happens sooner rather than later, given the organisation’s general interest in training simulators. What’s shown in the video is probably as close to battle as anyone can get short of actually being in one.

But a question we might want to ask is whether such realistic training could actually be counter-productive? This seems to go against logic, but I would argue that it might just be.

If a military’s already engaged in war with such combat environments, such as the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, then such training will be useful. A soldier about to be deployed to these areas will understand there is  a good chance that he or she will actually experience combat, either directly or indirectly. The certainty of the deployment forces mental preparation, regardless of the type or nature. Generally, the soldier knows what is inevitable is coming up in the immediate future, and recognises that any training to help prepare him or her will be useful. Better now than later, eh? Hence, the utility of such a realistic simulations.

However, in a peace-time military, such as the SAF, there’s a high risk that such training may have a negative psychological impact on our troops. Although not real, the simulators are real enough to leave a deep, probably undesirable impression, on peace-time troops. Watch the video, and you’ll see. War isn’t pretty, war is bloody, so why subject troops to that unless you know they’re going to face that reality soon?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from Iraq and Afghanistan deployments is something American society will have to deal with for decades to come. We don’t want something similar in Singapore, even if it’s on a smaller scale. Singapore shouldn’t risk have  generations of psychologically scarred male Singaporeans if it can avoid so, which it certainly can  since the SAF is not going into battle any time soon.

That noted, I believe there is still some utility in employing the training of medics and military doctors for obvious reasons. But certainly not all SAF personnel.


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Some thoughts on Irregular Warfare from Gorka.

National Defense University Press: JFQ 58.

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