Inaction entails defeat and death. This is a self-evident truth. It would be logical to assume that the infantry in any situation will do everything possible to damage the enemy and reduce the damage to their units. However, practice shows that inaction was and is a widespread phenomenon in the army.
Infantryman must reduce military inaction. How to explain the causes of military inaction and what are the ways to reduce it?
Actions in combat are determined by decisions taken in accordance with the situation. However, the desire in every possible way to avoid making combat decisions is not uncommon. It arises from the unwillingness to bear a large psychological burden, which inevitably arises in connection with the adoption of a combat decision.
The huge differences between decision-making processes in everyday life and decision-making in battle is one of the most important reasons for the cruel psychological burden on a soldier when making a combat decision and, consequently, the desire to evade his decision. There are the following differences between the adoption of a combat decision and the adoption of an ordinary, everyday decision:
1. The unknown situation. In a battle, very rarely there is a situation when the situation is completely clear: not all enemy firing points are known, it is not known how many enemy soldiers take part in the battle, their weapons are unknown, it is not known where the neighboring units are, whether additional ammunition will be brought up, etc. . For each "for" there is a similar "against." In everyday life, a person rarely encounters this level of uncertainty, and in battle, one constantly has to make decisions based only on probable data. It was noticed that the psyche of a soldier is strongly influenced not so much by the strength of the enemy, as by the novelty of what is found in a combat situation. On the battlefield, the soldiers feel calmer after the enemy goes over to the attack than before. When people do not know what awaits them, they tend to suspect the worst. When the facts become known, they can counteract them. Therefore, in the course of preparation, it is necessary to reduce something new and unknown with which a person can meet in battle.
2. The impossibility of achieving a "perfect" combat result, the fear of mistakes. Even after full and proper preparation for battle, actions can be unsuccessful or associated with losses. The enemy or nature may be stronger, in the battle all kinds of surprises are possible, which can confuse all plans. In everyday life, people around you wait for the “right” actions from a person and expect the “right” result of these actions. People believe that the "wrong" result is a consequence of the "wrong" actions. In battle, even the “right” actions can lead to the “wrong” result and, on the contrary, the erroneous actions can result in the “right” result. In everyday life, a person can often choose from the range of possible actions the most correct and reasonable. In battle, as a rule, there is no single right decision. More precisely, at the time of the decision to choose one of several options, it is impossible to determine whether this or that decision is correct or not. Only then, after the battle, when all the circumstances become known, can one decide what decision in that situation would be the most correct one.
3. Fear of liability. Responsibility may be different - to himself, moral, to the authorities, criminal, etc. But in any case, the person does not want to have problems for himself because of the negative result of his actions. In everyday life, responsibility must arise for the “wrong” result. To avoid the risk of liability, you need to act "correctly." In combat, when achieving a "positive" result, that is, completing a task without losses, is almost impossible, the result is usually "wrong". Accordingly, it seems to the soldier that responsibility in one form or another comes almost for any actions.
4. Lack of time to think and consider all possible options. Events can evolve so rapidly that the decision must be made immediately.
5. Vagueness of the goal of action or apparent aimlessness of action. Often, the overall goal of action in a battle is unclear, including that it may deliberately hide by the command in order to avoid the enemy deciding the planned operation.
Another strong factor that exerts severe psychological pressure on a decision maker is the fear of death or injury, the fear of being captured, including fear for others. This fear is a manifestation of one of the basic instincts of man - the instinct of self-preservation. Fear has a so-called "tunnel" effect. All human attention is focused on the source of fear, and all actions are focused on evading this source. Even a high-ranking commander who is not accustomed to danger, first of all thinks of himself, and not of battle management, although he is relatively far from the source of danger.
In the absence of sufficient information, a person under the action of fear begins to guess in order to restore the full picture of what is happening, that is, to fantasize in the direction of the causes of fear. Often, the soldier begins to feel that he is fighting alone against many opponents. Often there is a desire to just wait until it all ends by itself.
It seems that the enemy soldiers are shooting more accurately and efficiently. The implementation of combat decisions is associated with a rapprochement with a source of fear and paying attention to phenomena other than the source of fear. It is known that only a small proportion of soldiers, having fallen under enemy fire, conducts any aimed fire (about 15%). The rest either do not shoot at all, or shoot, just to shoot, into the void, spending precious ammunition. The soldiers strive with their fire as if to stop the bullets flying in them. People want to immediately open fire, as soon as they fall down, without even having decided on the purpose and installation of the sight. To stop such a useless fire is very difficult.
A significant part of the soldiers involved in the battle mechanically. Combat activity is only simulated, but not carried out. With the expenditure of mass efforts to fight the fear of forces on independent meaningful actions in battle does not remain.
Taking into account the “stupid” factor during a battle, it is necessary to simplify the actions performed as much as possible, and during preparation to learn and make actions automatic in standard situations. Note that “stupidity” occurs not only in connection with fear, but also in connection with actions in a group. As you know, the level of reasonableness of the crowd is lower than the individual people who make it up.
Actions that only imitate combat activity are the best gift to the enemy.
The same thing happens in decision making. When they come under fire, they don’t think about the task, all thoughts focus on imitating actions or on evading combat.
By the way, the “tunnel” effect of focusing on one thing can be used to fight fear. When a person’s attention is focused on an activity or something that distracts him from a source of fear, fear recedes into the background. One of the distractions may be the activity of the commander. It is possible to organize the counting of ammunition, the deepening of the trenches or the determination of installations of sight. Often a simple repetition of some rhyming phrase helps to remove fear. Many soldiers note that when the battle begins, when the need arises to do something, the fear diminishes.
A factor that impedes decision-making is also combat stress or psychological exhaustion. Manifestations of combat stress can be varied, since each person reacts in his own way to a greater mental load. The result of combat stress can be over-activity, and attempts to ignore the difficulties of the situation. But if the reaction to combat stress is depression of the nervous system, then the result will be inaction, lack of initiative and negligence.
A serious psychological factor preventing the inclusion of a decision-making mechanism is the effect of war at a distance - a soldier, not seeing the enemy, regards it as if unrealistic and non-existent, despite the rushing shells and the whistling bullets. A soldier cannot believe that someone wants to cause him real harm.
Finally, there are universal reasons for striving to avoid making a military decision - ordinary human laziness and unwillingness to leave the state of relative comfort, perception of combat activity, as, indeed, any work, as a punishment, a desire to maintain one’s own prestige (to show that there is no need in the councils of subordinates that the order given earlier was correct), following irrational motives (prejudice against the opponent, in particular, about the overall superiority of the enemy, pessimism, following in the wake of absolutized personal experience).
All these factors contribute to the emergence of trends in behavior, aimed at evading decision-making.
And one more note. It often happens that the more complex the task, the less loss. Potential risk and difficulty encourage people to more carefully plan and conduct actions. And simple tasks, on the contrary, relax and cause unpreparedness and, as a result, losses.
In human behavior, the avoidance of combat decision making can be expressed in the following forms:
1. Pushing the solution away from yourself.
The transfer of gravity solutions "down". This method of spiking a solution implies the actual removal of the task from the unit as a whole and its transfer to some separate element.
For example, the entire burden of performing the task is shifted to the forces attached to the main unit. In particular, the performance of the classic infantry missions to storm the enemy’s positions is assigned to the intelligence unit, the true and main task of which is to collect information.
The task of destroying an enemy sniper is assigned only to a special sniper, and the main infantry unit does not take part in this.
Arrangement of troops in field conditions rests solely on support units, and prior to their approach, no elementary steps are taken for their own improvement.
One thing common to all three cases is the evading person, referring to the special training of attached units, to their deeper knowledge of this or that skill, avoids making independent decisions and involving the main unit in carrying out appropriate actions. The viciousness of such an approach is that any attached division should be applied not instead of, but together with the main division. The infantry must storm the enemy objects themselves, must carry out counter-sniper measures and provide for themselves.
Another situation in which the decision is knocked down is when the evader tries to avoid making decisions aimed at completing the task, trying to demonstrate the impossibility of executing it.
For such a demonstration, not the whole subdivision is sent, but its small separate element, which obviously cannot complete the task. After the defeat of this element, or even his death, the evader has the opportunity to say that he tried to accomplish the task, but the situation did not allow.
Transfer solutions "up". The essence of this method is that the evader does nothing, believing that all decisions should be made by higher managers, and they must fully ensure the implementation of the decisions. And the case of the evader is only to follow orders. The viciousness of this approach lies in the fact that not even one of the most ingenious chief physically can think about everything. The ladder of management is in order to distribute the entire volume of issues to be solved at different levels. The superior must deal with more general tasks than the lower one. If a higher officer tries to solve all local tasks, then work on decision-making at the level of this chief will be completely paralyzed due to its size.
Transfer solutions "sideways". The essence of this method is to transfer the task to the neighboring division. Its viciousness lies in the fact that neighboring units must interact. False "successes" of the evading person in pushing the "sideways" solution destroy the basis of the interaction, creating a desire to avoid providing assistance and avoid interaction in the future.
2. Following the combat regulations or other instructions.
Following the provisions of the military regulations, manuals and other guidance documents also often becomes a way of evading decision-making. It is necessary to understand that the combat regulations or instructions are designed for a certain average combat situation. They are the result of a generalization of previous combat experience and attempts to extend it to future battles. Charters reflect the level of development of technology that exists at the time of their writing. They are associated with the specific armament of their troops and troops of the alleged enemy, with the tactics employed by the enemy, with the conditions of the proposed theater of military operations. And, finally, they are influenced by the dogmatic ideas of a society about the “right actions” in a war. Charters suffer from attempts to fix the "most correct and rational" tactics of action. Fixing the averaged rules of warfare inevitably gives rise to some primitivism.
All these factors suggest that a combat charter in principle cannot answer all questions and contain solutions for any combat tasks. Any combat regulations or instructions should not be considered as a universal law that does not allow retreat, but as a collection of guidelines.
Template solutions often do not lead to success, they are big enemies in leadership. The charter is a good help for organizing a quick fight, for example, for the actions of hastily put together units. Since all the soldiers of such a unit know tactical patterns, the use of statutes will greatly reduce inconsistency and inconsistency in actions. In circumstances where it is possible to work out the order of interaction between soldiers and units, the decision to follow the statutory provisions must be made in each specific situation as appropriate. There should be no presumption of correctness of the charter decision.
As an example of inappropriate use of the statute can be the use of artillery preparation. Often there are situations when she only warns the enemy about the impending attack, causing him little damage, and misleads her troops regarding the degree of suppression of enemy defenses.
An example of an unsuccessful attempt to consolidate the "most correct and rational" tactics of actions in the military charter may be the question of infantry combat groups. Before the start of the Great Patriotic War, the infantry unit in combat was divided into two groups: the maneuvering group and the fire support group. While one group was shooting, suppressing the enemy firing points, the other was moving closer to him. According to the results of the initial period of the Great Patriotic War, they refused from the pre-war division of the infantry into groups. During the war, it turned out that as a result of the division into groups, the force of the impact of the infantry weakened. It turned out that the fire support group took part in the battle only for a limited time at the initial stage, and then lagged behind the maneuverable group. The latter had to fight on their own. Post-war Soviet statutes did not provide for the division of infantry units into fire and maneuver groups. According to the experience of the Chechen campaign, the use of combat groups is reintroduced into combat training. It is believed that the division into groups helps to reduce infantry losses, since a separate fire support group performs the task of suppressing enemy firing points better than an infantry unit, all of whose soldiers at the same time approach the enemy. It seems that the question of the use of combat groups must be decided on the basis of the specific conditions of a particular battle. Attempts to secure the “most correct” solution of the issue are doomed to failure.
3. Delay in making decisions.
The name of this form of evading decision-making speaks for itself. The well-known army proverb “having received an order - do not rush to carry it out, since cancellation will come” may well reflect some points in the work of a bureaucratic army mechanism, but in combat conditions it is often a conscious way of evading military decisions in the hope that appropriate actions will be taken by someone else.
4. Installation on the fact that there are no tasks.
The meaning of this form of evasion is reduced to the formula “there is no order - it means that I do not need to do anything”. It is not always the senior commanders can or consider it necessary to give the order. It must be remembered that in combat conditions everyone should himself assess the situation and make the greatest possible efforts to change it in their own favor. The absence of direct instructions should not be a reason for inaction. If there is no order from the authorities, then the order must be given to himself.
5. Blind following an order.
Thoughtless following the letter of the order of the commander may be a manifestation of the desire to evade making an independent decision. The evading person refers to the presence of the order of the senior commander and makes him execute it literally, without delving into its tactical meaning. It is necessary to understand that, when executing an order, the subordinate commander should make independent decisions in the development of the decision of the higher commander.
The order to attack a town occupied by the enemy in 15.00 should not be understood in such a way that the infantry must be driven on an even field to the enemy’s unbuffered machine guns, the main thing is not to be late with the start of the attack. It means that the attack must be prepared for 15.00 so that it is completed successfully with minimal losses.
The order to march does not mean that you just need to sit down and go. It is necessary to carry out all the preparatory activities for counter-backward actions or another meeting with the enemy.
Following an order psychologically relieves the burden of responsibility for making a decision and is very often resorted to, referring to the fact that "the army rests on the order." It would be more correct to say that the army rests on the initiative. The above does not mean that orders can be ignored. No, it is impossible to change the decision made without good reasons, because the interaction gets lost and it turns out even worse. However, one should understand the tactical goal of the order (the plan of the battle) and interpret the order precisely in accordance with this goal, and not just as a duty to produce some sequence of actions.
Having shown the main forms of evading military decision-making, let's move on to describing ways to combat this negative phenomenon.
It should be noted that the constant appeals in combat regulations and manuals to take the initiative in battle, as well as its glorification in the literature contribute little to the growth of soldiers' initiative. If initiative in real life remains punishable, and inaction often does not have negative consequences, then the natural result will be decision-making evasion and inaction.
Ways to promote the adoption of independent combat decisions.
1. Standing order on activities and decision making.
In a combat situation, it is necessary to proceed from the fact that at any time each soldier has an order to independently assess the situation and make an independent combat decision, even in the absence of any instructions and orders from above. The soldier must understand that there are psychological reasons that push him to evade decision-making, to inaction, that the most frequent forms of evasion are known.
Any soldier or commander must constantly ask himself the question whether he is trying to avoid taking a combat decision. It is necessary to proceed from the fact that the responsibility for the failure to make a decision should be stricter and more inevitable than the responsibility for the decision that was made that was wrong. Even in a situation where, it seems, nothing happens, you can find ways to improve the situation of our troops - this could be training, strengthening the system of engineering equipment for positions, patrolling, etc.
An additional effect of the activity will be the reduction of fear, since the person concentrates on the action produced, and not on the source of fear.
So: in a combat situation, everyone always has an order to take actions that improve the situation of our troops. Avoiding decisions and actions is punishable.
2. It is necessary to order what to do, but not HOW to do.
Another proven way to increase initiative in the troops is the introduction of a system in which management does not give detailed orders, and subordinates know this and determine the order of execution of orders themselves. The only exceptions are cases where the senior commander is better acquainted with the terrain or the situation, as well as with the organization of particularly complex types of combat - river forcing, night fighting, withdrawal, etc. Fighting in large spaces, the rapid change of the situation often make the return of detailed orders meaningless, and waiting on the part of subordinates for detailed orders leads to passivity and inaction. The subordinate should not expect a detailed order from the commander. A commander should not teach subordinates to excessively detailed instructions. It is necessary to follow the principle of “set the task, give the means and let it be done independently”.
Even in the case when circumstances require the delivery of detailed orders, the general purpose of the battle should be indicated so that in the event of unexpected changes in the situation, the person who received the order can correct his actions. If necessary, detailed orders it is advisable to consult with those who will carry them out.
3. Responsibility is not for the consequences of the decision, but for the shortcomings in the preparation of its adoption.
The most significant, but far from the most obvious way to increase the initiative is to change the approach to the responsibility of those who give orders. As mentioned above, surprises are possible in a battle, and even full preparation for the conduct of this or that type of battle does not guarantee 100% success. The result of actions in battle, in general, in the overwhelming majority of cases is “wrong” - even when the task is completed, it is not always possible to completely avoid losses. In everyday life, responsibility is imposed according to the following rule: “if there are negative consequences of an activity, it means that the activity was“ wrong ”, which in turn means that the person who ordered to commit these actions made a mistake and should be punished.
In combat conditions, often the use of the same approach to the assignment of responsibility leads to the fact that the performers are afraid to do anything at all. The logic here is approximately the following: if I do nothing, then there are no consequences, including negative ones, which means the absence of responsibility. As a result, it turns out that the soldier or commander is ready to give his life for the Motherland, but they are afraid of reprimand for mistakes in the actions taken. Fear of responsibility for defeat is harmful, instead of an incentive for initiative, it forces to do nothing.
The only way out of this situation is to change the approach to imposing responsibility. The main question for its imposition is the following: has a person taken all REASONABLY POSSIBLE and EXECUTABLE in this situation to achieve success in battle? Even in the case of defeat in battle and the failure of the job in taking all measures responsibility should not occur. Responsibility comes not “by result”, but “by applied efforts”. It can be laid even if it was a success, but this success was accidental and was not predetermined by the efforts that a person made.
It is necessary to dwell on the question of non-compliance with the order. Orders must be executed. This is an axiom. However, sooner or later a situation will arise when the situation requires a retreat from the order. In doing so, one should be guided by the following: as a general rule, the performer has the right to change the ways of accomplishing the task, but not to evade the achievement of the tactical goal, which must be achieved in accordance with the order. The ban on withdrawal from the chosen method of performing the task must be specifically stipulated by the person giving the order and be justified by tactical considerations. The commander, depriving subordinates of the possibility of choosing the method of performing the assigned task, should bear full responsibility for such a decision.
A complete refusal to perform the assigned task is possible only if the tactical situation has changed so much that the goal that must be achieved in the process of executing the order has clearly disappeared.
Of course, there are still situations where, for objective reasons, it is impossible to execute an order. To distinguish between cases of evading decision-making from the actual impossibility of completing a task, a set of measures taken to prepare for its implementation should be considered. The contractor is obliged to take all possible actions that can only be taken to prepare for the execution of the task. And only after that he gets the right to refer to the complete impossibility of its implementation.
I would like to emphasize the following. One person can effectively exercise visual and voice control on the battlefield over a group of people around an 10 person (approximately the size of one compartment). Radio communication expands the control area of the commander, but it is not the full equivalent of personal visual and voice control. Therefore, all commanders from the platoon and above are forced to delegate the authority to take at least some decisions down. The problem of the impossibility of control is solved by grafting the habit of making independent decisions, knowing the general concept of action. Therefore, the ability to make independent decisions is a key skill of the soldier and officer, more important than technical skills.