Manage combat trauma correctly, or it will manage you. — author
There’s a problem with combat Rules of Engagement (ROEs)? Review every video interview with post Iraqi/Afghanistan enlisted veterans available in the twenty-first century. Each will list the number one war-fighting change recommended to be fix the ROEs. They are said to be ill-commensurate with combat realities attending fighting in the trenches.
“Fix the ROEs” by establishing a joint commission comprised of and delimited by mid authority range, combat experienced, Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) beginning with the rank of Corporal, E4, and restricted to E7, Gunnery Sergeant (US Marine) class. Or, if no combatants are currently available, draw from enlisted veteran ranks of the same experience. Mandate the enlisted combatants’ comprising this commission to have veto level decision making control of the Rules of Engagement otherwise imposed for every conflict.
If the civilian Executive wants to wage a war that involves American citizens, it will have to get authority for enforcement of that admin’s ideas for ROEs from this enlisted representation. On this matter only, the referenced group should parallel the Joint Chiefs in authority. No permission from this enlisted group on Rules of Engagement; no application of US military personnel in harms way.
Weight nominations fifty percent from ranks (the nominating, not commission-serving class) E1 to E3; thirty percent from E4 to E7; ten percent from E8 to E9; ten percent from Platoon Commander Officer rank.
Systemic traumatization of the US (and most) military begins with hierarchical applications of rigorous Behavioral Management that although designed to accomplish the mission at hand, are also and unknowingly engineered to foster delayed organizational-to-individual failure when combat trauma affected. Here from this view is how that happens.
At the top of the hierarchy, management experiences trauma indirectly. Events present through third party description from field reports and media devices like satelite, drone and other video/photo/sound transmissions. Toward the bottom of that hierarchy, traumatic events have direct effects. Differing experiences1“Experiences of trauma” as used in this sentence refers to the relative position — to mean closeness or distance — of an individual or other entity to the traumatic event. For detailed and graphic description of this dynamic as it influences trauma’s management, see “In ETM TRT SHOM, Structured and Strategic Psychodynamic mean . . .”, page 3 of 4 of trauma, then, affect the chain of authority from mission battle beginning with its launch and to culminate at its ending.
These presentations and thus their systemic to individual effects occur simply as the difference between being blown up, and surviving in the latter case, and watching it happen, or more distantly, hearing the story as an indirect effect, in the first reference. That difference then materializes as thought-behavioral, i.e., managerial, consequences.2See ETM TRT SHOM’s application to combat trauma. Although they can be myriad and differing — some positive, some not so — theory and remedy comprising this essay consider two: The deleterious influence of ROEs on the traumatic (individual and systemic) condition and how to strategically lessen those effects prior to incurrence.
Fighting at point of contact requires visceral expression appropriate to the individuals/units implementing the challenge. And that expression requires authority to achieve the tasks ordered. That may mean abstractions, like ROEs that micro-manage-transfer political goals and doctrine from the top to the lower range of the hierarchy for implementation, can significantly interfere with the required expression by limiting that authority. Although that harness from above may serve a grander political purpose for the global, application of the abstraction can dramatically reduce the capacity of the psychology of the implementer to fend off, or otherwise process, the currently experienced trauma occurring during and as a consequence of the action. Multi-tasking in multi-faceted abstraction level thought schemas while processing existential matters — doing both simultaneously and in real time — can be tricky, intellectually, practically and particularly trauma managerially speaking.
If there is a command desire to impose the more complex ROE management upon those having implementation responsibilities, they should be formally consulted as to the prospects for the ROEs viability. If the fighting ranks, and particularly the enlisted NCOs who provide that leadership at the visceral level say the rules are not just a disconcerting, but interfering, encumbrance, then no go. The people to make this decision must be those at the hands-on implementation level who know what “interfering” means.
Combat ethics are different from ROEs. The former distinguishes applications of force to fit a standard of reasonableness that both takes and cares for life — and particularly innocent ones — and property. ROEs, on the other hand, micro manage political notions about shaping the individual and collective conscious and images of the targeted and those doing that targeting.
Of course there’ll always be traumatized combatants returning with the experience to secure areas, and all the way home, no matter the Rules of Engagement’s influences on psychology. But their deleterious effects on combat functioning will not be as divisive upon either the implementers’ ranks or the chain of command as a whole if ROE design takes into account the most realistic prospects for what is doable, or not. Removing that possible and apparently sometimes real distraction/complaint/interference with application of a voice from the base implementation reality, will allow for a more unfettered-by-institutionalized-interference response to trauma management beginning with the apex of the event. Through that representation/voice, live or die decisions and actions for combatants and those they have to kill offers during the event some sense of fighting-reality control during what otherwise is a truly existential moment.
Arguments and Other
I’ve purposefully left out and off the debate regarding this recommendation. It would require interpretation of individual and systemic, to include institutionalized short-comings — for example, how Behavioral Management’s naturally hierarchically- and even inadvertently-imposed development of an aristocrat-like manager class can support hiding, if not burying, the fuller reality attending the challenges of war — that would distract from the overall purposes of these essays. They are to show how to implement Strategic Human Ontological Management (SHOM) to a hypothetical, which in this instance the example “as if” happens to be based in a reality: the Islamic wars with the West, this time beginning and gaining organized steam at the onset of the twenty-first century.
In other ETM TRT SHOM literature3For review of detailed theory and application of ETM TRT SHOM, see the professional education component of the ETMTRTSHOM Publications LLC site., particularly that pertaining to application by professional clinicians and managers, theory and implementation of the Etiotropic Trauma Management approach shows how to address all elements of trauma from the battlefield to the return home. But where those applications require adherence to Etiotropic principles of trauma management for successful address and outcome, this ROE management recommendation may be implemented separate from those constructions. For example, in this year, 2015, the trauma management for the armed forces follows the Nosotropic (symptom focused) approach. Institutionalizing the hands-on fighting ranks’ voice-with-veto of ROEs through Joint Chiefs-styled authority will serve its trauma management purpose of strengthening combatants’ psychological rational cognitive, cognitive behavioral, and ontological controls against the over- and prospectively divisive- application of political/philosophical/ideological/methodological abstractions imposed by non combatants — those civilian and military leaders who do not have fighting experience within or on the line — despite the etio-noso differences.
Jesse W. Collins II
Notes [ + ]
|1.||⇧||“Experiences of trauma” as used in this sentence refers to the relative position — to mean closeness or distance — of an individual or other entity to the traumatic event. For detailed and graphic description of this dynamic as it influences trauma’s management, see “In ETM TRT SHOM, Structured and Strategic Psychodynamic mean . . .”, page 3 of 4|
|2.||⇧||See ETM TRT SHOM’s application to combat trauma.|
|3.||⇧||For review of detailed theory and application of ETM TRT SHOM, see the professional education component of the ETMTRTSHOM Publications LLC site.|