During a meeting break, I had a conversation with a young man in which I uttered the phrase, "You don't WANT your troops to think- you want them to react instinctively in the way they were trained." Which was followed quickly by, "Well, that didn't come out quite right!"

I proceeded to try and explain how in the heat of battle you want troops that are so well trained for every contingency that they don't freeze up from the shock of the moment but know how to react but everything I said (including my one and only little battle story of turning away an intruder way back when I did that sort of thing) only proceeded to solidify his perception that people like me are precisely what's wrong with our nation’s military. Of course, he was too polite to say such a thing, and the conversation peacefully fizzled out.

But it got me thinking…

Of COURSE you want your troops to think. Anyone who has endured any type of training (military, real-estate, parenting ha ha) knows that much of what you are taught doesn’t apply in the real world. You’ve got to be sharp and adapt your response to every situation. But on the other hand, how often are you faced with a new circumstance, don’t know how to react, and that split second of hesitation and uncertainness cost you the deal, your safety, your money, the negotiation, etc. And it’s even worse in battle! Back when I was filling in as security forces (right after 9-11), I saw a group of us who never expected to fight suddenly thrust into the world of base defense: there WERE people who infiltrated our base and there WERE troops who froze up and almost got themselves killed. And that wasn’t in battle, but at home. No shells coming over every 5 minutes. No bomb shelters. Plenty of sleep, food, and a warm snuggly bed at night. Just imagine how impaired their judgment would be if they were in Iraq right now, living in austere conditions and with constant threat of being blown up or shot.

What do you think?