What does it mean to be a warrior? The word warrior gets thrown around a lot these day, especially in today’s military, but getting a hard and fast definition is difficult. Perhaps, this is because so many people who haven’t a warrior bone in their body, non-the-less want to identify with the image.
In the Army of the 1980s and 90s it was common to refer to both units and military occupational specialties (MOS) as either combat or combat support/combat service and support, effectively dividing the Army into those who would do the fighting and those who supported them. This bifurcation came crashing down with the experience of the 507th Maintenance Company and its most famous unit member PVT Jessica Lynch.
There are some details of the combat action they found themselves in that are very informative about what was going on within the culture of the unit. The first is that every single weapon malfunctioned. When I ask groups of soldiers why that would have happened they always know the obvious answer. The unit as a whole had not done any weapons maintenance. This is undoubtedly true, however, that only brings up another, more important, question. Why, in a unit that had its requisite number of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, did no one in the unit perform weapons maintenance?
The answer to this question is equally obvious, but often must be pointed out even to soldiers who were in the Army of that era. The 507th Maintenance Company, officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted soldiers, didn’t think that they would be the ones doing the fighting. This is undoubtedly the same reason why the leaders were not proficient in land navigation and attempted to rely on electronic navigation devices.
The bottom line for the 507th Maintenance Unit was that the soldiers in it did not consider themselves to be, or even think they were required to be, warriors.
So what was it that the soldiers of the 507th lacked? What qualities did the culture of the unit not value? And most importantly why and what can we do to ensure that current and future units do not have the same deficits?
To be continued…………
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Kratophobe – A person who claims to be a warrior and yet has an irrational fear of realistic hand-to-hand combat training.
Etymology, from the Greek...