What is war like? For those of us who have never had the misfortune of seeing it in person, the question is of enduring fascination. The literature is vast, and there are many vivid memoirs and histories that convey the horror of the battlefield. A picture of a very different sort is provided by a newly released U.S. Army document entitled The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills, a manual for fighting modern warfare.
Here is how it opens:
Modern combat is chaotic, intense, and shockingly destructive. In your first battle, you will experience the confusing and often terrifying sights, sounds, smells, and dangers of the battlefield—but you must learn to survive and win despite them.
1. You could face a fierce and relentless enemy.
2. You could be surrounded by destruction and death.
3. Your leaders and fellow soldiers may shout urgent commands and warnings.
4. Rounds might impact near you.
5. The air could be filled with the smell of explosives and propellant.
6. You might hear the screams of a wounded comrade.
However, even in all this confusion and fear, remember that you are not alone. You are part of a well-trained team, backed by the most powerful combined arms force, and the most modern technology in the world. You must keep faith with your fellow Soldiers, remember your training, and do your duty to the best of your ability. If you do, and you uphold your Warrior Ethos, you can win and return home with honor.
A brief excerpt from the table of contents — Chapter 5 “Cover, Concealment, and Camouflage”– gives a sense of what else awaits anyone who takes the time to study this interesting document.
Chapter 5 COVER, CONCEALMENT, AND CAMOUFLAGE
5-1 Section I. COVER
5-2 Natural Cover
5-2 Man-Made Cover
5-4 Section II. CONCEALMENT
5-4 Natural Concealment
5-4 Actions as Concealment. 5-4
5-5 Section III. CAMOUFLAGE
5-5 Outlines and Shadows
5-7 Individual Techniques
The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills is important not only for what tells us about the battlefield but for the glimpse it offers of what our brave soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are called upon to do on a daily basis.