20 May 2010

Lots of Alliteration, and the Hiss of 11 S's

To paraphrase Gregory "Pappy" Boyington of Black Sheep Squadron fame, "combat is hours of boredom punctuated by seconds of sheer terror."

This week, I've been participating in some more "Warrior Task" training and testing. Our mornings have been filled with hours and hours of PowerPoint slides, while our afternoons have been punctuated with sheer fun. It's included some real why-we-joined-the-Army stuff, like driving gun trucks and throwing grenades and using radios. Yee-haw and hoorah!

On the other hand, despite the afternoon delights of running and gunning, the briefings have consistently proven more deadly than we have.

It's not the briefers faults, of course. Some of their material is pretty dry, and often rife with technical and specialized terms. Uncle Sam attempts to make these subjects more memorable by reducing them into acronyms and catch-phrases. By reducing and presenting everything at once, however, I'm afraid we our soldier-student brains were reduced to alphabet soup.

In the "Law of War" (abbreviated and pronounced "LOW") and "Rules of Engagement" (which our presenter pronounced as "ROE") briefings, for example, we discussed the tool of the "5 S's." In ascending order of reaction to a potential or perceived threat, these are:
  • "Shout" (a warning)
  • "Shove"
  • "Show" (your weapon)
  • "Shoot" (a warning shot)
  • "Shoot" (to disable the target)
Unfortunately, there were an additional "6 S's" in another class. This one covered how to handle detainees and enemy prisoners of war (E.P.W.):
  • "Search"
  • "Segregate"
  • "Silence"
  • "Separate"
  • "Safeguard"
  • "Speed" (to the rear)
I'm sorry, but that's simply a surfeit of S's. At the very least, the Army should have inserted the occasional non-S, just to keep things interesting. Take, for example, the text book for my high-school Psychology class (it was an elective--or at least, that's what they told me), which noted that the "4 F's" of existence are:
  • "Feeding"
  • "Fleeing"
  • "Fighting"
  • "Mating"
Now THAT class was memorable!


  1. Sufferin' Succotash! PDV

  2. I would imagine mixing the "S's" up would cause drama and paperwork.

    [now softly singing the theme tune to BlackSheep squadron. Sigh.. :D]


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