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Cohesion: The Human Element In Combat
by William Darryl Henderson
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One of the perils for military planners in a high-tech world is to be taken in by the destructiveness of modern weapons and to give in to the currently popular theory that modern war will last for days or weeks rather than months or years -- in short, to envision a world where technologies, not people, dominate war. We can ill afford to dismiss the human element in combat. The stakes are far too great. Colonel William Darryl Henderson, US Army, maintains that we cannot expect tactical situations in future fields of battle to be devoid of the human factor. Most recently, for example, Iraq's war with Iran was potentially a high-tech and swift war. That war is entering its fourth year and has cost, to date, 900,000 lives. Cohesion-mutual beliefs and needs that cause people to act as a collective whole -- has so far played a more significant role in the Iran-Iraq war than all the sophisticated weapons on either side. Does American society produce the type of soldier who would, under stress, suppress his individuality and act for the mutual good of the group? In the post-Vietnam, all-volunteer force environment, the kind of American citizen attracted to military service -- the qualities he carries from society and what qualities the military organization is able to impart to him -- must be a matter for serious thought and planning. Colonel Henderson's work is a step in that direction. Richard D. Lawrence Lieutenant General, United States Army President, National Defense University.
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