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On the Toxicity of the ‘Warrior’ Ethos

Remius

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So quick thing to add to the conversation.

Warrior ethos in military culture.  Does that translate into a police officer with military experience?

I know a few (dozen) police officers personally.  All of them have military service.  By all accounts except for a few that were crappy soldiers and became crappy cops, most are very good at what they do. 

Now looking at the US, how many police officers have a military background?  I’m sure the percentage is much higher than in Canada. 

Is that how this concept of warrior police is creeping into certain police forces?

I would think that having a military background is a plus.  Just not all of it. 
 

mariomike

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Remius said:
I would think that having a military background is a plus. 

See also,

CF experience relevant to RCMP, civ policing? (merged)
https://navy.ca/forums/threads/32733.0
10 pages.

Q: I am a current/past member of the military. Do I get special consideration?

A: Although we appreciate your service in the military, all current and past members of any military service will proceed through the Constable Selection System like any other candidate.
http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/careers/uni_faq.php#q23
 

daftandbarmy

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Chris Pook said:
They learned how to take a bunch of vicious surplus youngsters hanging around gaols and football pitches on a Saturday afternoon and discipline the buggers to do what Her Majesty needed.

So you've met 4 Pl, B Coy, 1 PARA then? ;)
 

Kirkhill

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I was raised by a  Platoon Mortarman of Sugar Coy, 1 Para.
 

mariomike

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Speaking of warriors, memories of some local action 10 years ago.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XgEI5dCrE


I think the City is still paying off the lawsuits.
https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk03xZS77-ljY9vZUe73rBz9fzZmSBg%3A1592166847766&source=hp&ei=v4nmXsGZLPKmggel1oWAAw&q=g20+toronto+lawsuits&oq=g20+toronto+lawsuits&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzICCAAyBggAEBYQHjoECCMQJzoECAAQQzoICAAQgwEQkQI6BQgAEJECOgUIABCxAzoHCAAQsQMQQzoICAAQsQMQkQI6BQgAEIMBUOwMWOw9YOQ-aABwAHgDgAGNCYgB3iySAQ8wLjguMi4yLjAuMS4yLjGYAQCgAQGqAQdnd3Mtd2l6&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwiB9Ybbk4LqAhVyk-AKHSVrATAQ4dUDCAw&uact=5#spf=1592166857692

I was retired by then, and watched it at home on TV.
 

lenaitch

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When I started my career back in the 70s, I don't think I was aware of any fellow member that was ex-military.  It might have been more prevalent with the RCMP due to things like common employer, pension issues, etc.  I understand there are still pension 'portability' issues between federal and provincial programs but don't really follow it.  My experience was that the ex-military members that I did encountered and worked with later in my career ran a gamut no different than that of members 'off the street'.

Part of the issue with 'warriorism' in law enforcement is training and experience.  Many of the members I encountered who were into training recruits or in-service training in the areas of weapons and use of force were either wanna-be or former tactical members.  That was fair - they are really into the skills, high level of fitness and all of that stuff, but it lacked, for want of a better term, situationality (is that even a word?).  A cop needs to have a warrior mind-set when he/she is fighting for their life; you have to win.  But you can't go through life dealing with a public that you see as a constant threat.  I've worked with guys who approached every grandmother driving a car with a headlight light out as though they were a drug addled psychopath.  For sure, you need to have your guard up, be cognizant of tactical cues, etc. but it seems for some time on the job really didn't translate into a growth of experience and knowledge.  That is the strength of a really good training officer program - the ability to take the formal skills training that the recruit has learned and have them exercise it through the filter of real-world encounters.
 

lenaitch

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mariomike said:
Speaking of warriors, memories of some local action 10 years ago.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XgEI5dCrE


I think the City is still paying off the lawsuits.
https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk03xZS77-ljY9vZUe73rBz9fzZmSBg%3A1592166847766&source=hp&ei=v4nmXsGZLPKmggel1oWAAw&q=g20+toronto+lawsuits&oq=g20+toronto+lawsuits&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzICCAAyBggAEBYQHjoECCMQJzoECAAQQzoICAAQgwEQkQI6BQgAEJECOgUIABCxAzoHCAAQsQMQQzoICAAQsQMQkQI6BQgAEIMBUOwMWOw9YOQ-aABwAHgDgAGNCYgB3iySAQ8wLjguMi4yLjAuMS4yLjGYAQCgAQGqAQdnd3Mtd2l6&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwiB9Ybbk4LqAhVyk-AKHSVrATAQ4dUDCAw&uact=5#spf=1592166857692

I was retired by then, and watched it at home on TV.

As was I.  Hard to believe it was a decade ago.  I think part of the problem was leadership; either the lack thereof of its failure to be sufficiently agile (setting aside the fact that it was foisted on the city with minimal lead time).  Why they do these things in dense urban areas is beyond me - the G8 in Kananaskis, and the G20 portion of this fiasco in Hunstville were quite benign.  I also think part of the problem was confusing executive leadership - senior command level - with multiple agencies and departments involved.  'Matrix management' was a big buzzword for a while, but the reality is it blurs accountability.  A former boss once said to a fairly unappreciative audience that the response to 'who's in charge' should be a one-word answer.
 

mariomike

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Yes. Why it was held in downtown TO  was questionable.
 

FJAG

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Remius said:
So quick thing to add to the conversation.

Warrior ethos in military culture.  Does that translate into a police officer with military experience?

I know a few (dozen) police officers personally.  All of them have military service.  By all accounts except for a few that were crappy soldiers and became crappy cops, most are very good at what they do. 

Now looking at the US, how many police officers have a military background?  I’m sure the percentage is much higher than in Canada. 

Is that how this concept of warrior police is creeping into certain police forces?

I would think that having a military background is a plus.  Just not all of it.

Many do. Firstly it's one of the professions many Active army folks gravitate to after releasing and secondly many police officers (especially in the smaller county sheriff's departments) are also in the National Guard or Reserves.

Little aside. I was just doing some research for my current book where my protagonist is following some leads into southern Vermont where the local National Guard brigade had been mobilized to Afghanistan at the time of my story. My plan was to have my hero meet with the local county's sheriff but when I searched that department I found that the actual sheriff himself had been called up for the deployment.

I think one would find that in rural counties many of the deputies either were or are in the military.

:cheers:
 

Jarnhamar

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This is always a captivating subject.

Recently I got front row seats to what I consider a great example of how absurd a leader pushing a warrior ethos can be. In his head I'm sure it sounded gallant and dashing. Hoorah. In practice it seemed to just fuck guys around for no other reason than to appeal to his idea of what warriors are(explanation available through PMs).

On the other hand I think about the soldier side of the equation including what gets mentioned here. Teamwork, discipline, mission before self stuff. In practice I've seen the soldier ethos (I think) manifest in soldiers continuously treated like numbers. Promotions based on career forecasting and what they can do for the regiment and not individual skills, prowess and badassery. Young smart bold leaders held back because they didn't fit the mold of a yes-man NCO. People afraid to push back.


I've also had a discussion with some peers recently about two very different leadership styles we observed which I think lends itself to the warrior/soldier discussion. Maybe?

Both new company commanders at the time.
One used language like our plan for the next year. Milestones and challenges we'll reach and overcome together. The future we'll take ourselves into and the way we will do our part in the greater picture. Here is what I will do for you.

The other came across the opposite. My plan is this and by doing this I will accomplish that and by following my philosophy you'll support my effort to do what the CO is asking of me. You will champion these changes I want made.
 

daftandbarmy

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Jarnhamar said:
Both new company commanders at the time.
One used language like our plan for the next year. Milestones and challenges we'll reach and overcome together. The future we'll take ourselves into and the way we will do our part in the greater picture. Here is what I will do for you.

The other came across the opposite. My plan is this and by doing this I will accomplish that and by following my philosophy you'll support my effort to do what the CO is asking of me. You will champion these changes I want made.

I involuntarily cringed at #2. How did he do getting all that stuff done all by himself? :)
 

lenaitch

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Jarnhamar said:
One used language like our plan for the next year. Milestones and challenges we'll reach and overcome together. The future we'll take ourselves into and the way we will do our part in the greater picture. Here is what I will do for you.

The other came across the opposite. My plan is this and by doing this I will accomplish that and by following my philosophy you'll support my effort to do what the CO is asking of me. You will champion these changes I want made.


Trust me - that is not isolated to the military.

Developing good leadership also means developing good 'followership'.  An effective team or organization can plan, study, collaborate, commiserate 'til the cows come home, but when the poo hits the fan, everybody needs to rise to the occasion.  It's not the time to convene another focus group.
 

Underway

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Jarnhamar said:
Both new company commanders at the time.
13th Company perhaps???  ;)

The term "warrior" seems to have been pushed quite a bit by culture/media.  Crossfit, obstacle races (like Tough Mudder), UFC, and other sports, fighting cancer (like you can fight your own body), etc...

There are plenty of synonyms and other terminology that one can use.  The Canadian Army seems to use Battle _____ for everything.  Battle proof mind, battle procedure, battle fitness, and the list goes on.

At the end of the day it isn't the word, it's the training and the expectations.  The US police act like "warriors" in many places because they are not true professional force.  Could you imagine how bad it would be if your company commander was elected from the general public (like some Sheriffs are) without having to do any military training or pass any courses?
 

Jarnhamar

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daftandbarmy said:
I involuntarily cringed at #2. How did he do getting all that stuff done all by himself? :)

lol ya. I mean, technically he's right. It's "his" rifle company. Hearing it put that way definitely sounded different to our ears than his I'd say.

Underway said:
13th Company perhaps???  ;)

Post heresy, certainly!

The term "warrior" seems to have been pushed quite a bit by culture/media.  Crossfit, obstacle races (like Tough Mudder), UFC, and other sports, fighting cancer (like you can fight your own body), etc...

Agreed. More of a marketing tool than anything now.
 

daftandbarmy

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More on that 'W' word. BLUF: Not everyone is a warrior, and that’s okay.

Killing it With Powerpoint and Quad Charts: Not Everyone is Actually a Warrior​


As awards ceremonies go, it was a lot like every other one you sit through. A lot of laudatory comments about everything the individual had done, the impact of those contributions, and how appreciated the command was. Then the chief of staff finished with a flair: “He is a warrior in the truest sense of the term.”

Wait, what?

It wasn’t that the individual didn’t deserve recognition, or that we weren’t all appreciative of what he’d accomplished. But we’re talking about a staff officer, not Crazy Horse. This person’s job was to collect and process data, to prepare reports, and to brief the outcomes of their analysis. There weren’t many other people on staff who were as effective or as efficient. But it wasn’t as if they were galloping around the installation counting coup on subordinate staffs (although that might have been warranted on a few occasions). They were phenomenal at their job. But they weren’t a warrior by any stretch of the imagination.

The Warrior Few​

I grew up in a quiet corner of the United States, in a mill town that straddled Nez Perce country. In the summers, we traveled through Blackfeet lands and usually ended up in the heart of Sioux territory. Every so often, we’d spend those months in traditional Shoshone or Cheyenne areas. We rarely stayed at a Holiday Inn, but I had a pretty clear idea of what a warrior was and what one represented.

In the truest sense of the term, we define a warrior broadly as someone who specializes in warfare as a profession, especially in the context of a tribal or clan-based culture that acknowledges a warrior as something unique, such as a warrior caste or class. History is replete with examples of such individuals: Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Leonidas of Sparta, and Atilla the Hun. In the same vein, warrior castes provide examples of groups whose exploits can be traced through the ages: Mongols, Visigoths, Spartans, and Samurai, to name just a few.

From a more recent perspective, names such as Geronimo, Dan Daly, and Audie Murphy come to mind. The Apache were synonymous with the warrior class, as are more contemporary warfighting cultures such as the Gurkhas, the U.S. Navy SEALS, and the British Special Air Services. The mental model that emerges is consistent across time: warfare is institutionalized. These are groups and individuals steeped in the art of combat.

Killing it with PowerPoint and bringing the pain with spreadsheets filled with data are both admirable skills in a staff officer, but not exactly the same warrior culture that produced Hannibal or Chief Joseph. Somehow, I just can’t see Saladin obsessing over quad charts or Spartacus losing sleep over green-amber-red ratings.

What’s In a Name​


That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with our military forces identifying with a warrior culture. The U.S. Army’s warrior ethos is a positive example of determination, resilience, and loyalty. The tradition of calling National Guard troops weekend warriors was innocent enough because the phrase was decidedly tongue-in-cheek. And when people referred to former Defense Secretary and Marine General James Mattis as the warrior monk, it was a respectful acknowledgement of his hard-earned reputation as a warfighter and scholar. In some ways, the military is a separate caste of society, but that’s fraught with issues too complex to unpack here.

Identifying with the ideals framed in the warrior ethos is one thing; obsessing over the term is another. And it’s not just that we sling it around with impunity, we’ve surrounded ourselves with the symbology of a warrior society. You can find more gear adorned with Punisher skulls in the military and law enforcement (which is especially problematic) than at Comic-Con. Spartan helmets can be found in organizational logos ranging from personnel companies to logistics battalions. While I’m comforted that the soldier refueling my vehicle has a personal connection to Thermopylae, I doubt they could find it on a map.

Can we stop the insanity already? While there are qualities of a warrior society to admire and possibly even emulate, that’s simply not who we are. Are there elements within our ranks that qualify as warriors? Certainly. But the person printing ID cards at the in-processing center? Not a warrior. The spoon slinging eggs at the dining facility – and let’s just acknowledge the fact that we’re too cultured to call it a mess hall as proof – probably wouldn’t do well fighting off the Huns. The dude with his ribbon rack spread across the rear window of his F-150 wants you to think he is a warrior, but he’s got more negligent discharges than actual time in combat.

Not everyone is a warrior, and that’s okay.

 

dimsum

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More on that 'W' word. BLUF: Not everyone is a warrior, and that’s okay.

Killing it With Powerpoint and Quad Charts: Not Everyone is Actually a Warrior​


As awards ceremonies go, it was a lot like every other one you sit through. A lot of laudatory comments about everything the individual had done, the impact of those contributions, and how appreciated the command was. Then the chief of staff finished with a flair: “He is a warrior in the truest sense of the term.”

Wait, what?

It wasn’t that the individual didn’t deserve recognition, or that we weren’t all appreciative of what he’d accomplished. But we’re talking about a staff officer, not Crazy Horse. This person’s job was to collect and process data, to prepare reports, and to brief the outcomes of their analysis. There weren’t many other people on staff who were as effective or as efficient. But it wasn’t as if they were galloping around the installation counting coup on subordinate staffs (although that might have been warranted on a few occasions). They were phenomenal at their job. But they weren’t a warrior by any stretch of the imagination.

The Warrior Few​

I grew up in a quiet corner of the United States, in a mill town that straddled Nez Perce country. In the summers, we traveled through Blackfeet lands and usually ended up in the heart of Sioux territory. Every so often, we’d spend those months in traditional Shoshone or Cheyenne areas. We rarely stayed at a Holiday Inn, but I had a pretty clear idea of what a warrior was and what one represented.

In the truest sense of the term, we define a warrior broadly as someone who specializes in warfare as a profession, especially in the context of a tribal or clan-based culture that acknowledges a warrior as something unique, such as a warrior caste or class. History is replete with examples of such individuals: Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Leonidas of Sparta, and Atilla the Hun. In the same vein, warrior castes provide examples of groups whose exploits can be traced through the ages: Mongols, Visigoths, Spartans, and Samurai, to name just a few.

From a more recent perspective, names such as Geronimo, Dan Daly, and Audie Murphy come to mind. The Apache were synonymous with the warrior class, as are more contemporary warfighting cultures such as the Gurkhas, the U.S. Navy SEALS, and the British Special Air Services. The mental model that emerges is consistent across time: warfare is institutionalized. These are groups and individuals steeped in the art of combat.

Killing it with PowerPoint and bringing the pain with spreadsheets filled with data are both admirable skills in a staff officer, but not exactly the same warrior culture that produced Hannibal or Chief Joseph. Somehow, I just can’t see Saladin obsessing over quad charts or Spartacus losing sleep over green-amber-red ratings.

What’s In a Name​


That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with our military forces identifying with a warrior culture. The U.S. Army’s warrior ethos is a positive example of determination, resilience, and loyalty. The tradition of calling National Guard troops weekend warriors was innocent enough because the phrase was decidedly tongue-in-cheek. And when people referred to former Defense Secretary and Marine General James Mattis as the warrior monk, it was a respectful acknowledgement of his hard-earned reputation as a warfighter and scholar. In some ways, the military is a separate caste of society, but that’s fraught with issues too complex to unpack here.

Identifying with the ideals framed in the warrior ethos is one thing; obsessing over the term is another. And it’s not just that we sling it around with impunity, we’ve surrounded ourselves with the symbology of a warrior society. You can find more gear adorned with Punisher skulls in the military and law enforcement (which is especially problematic) than at Comic-Con. Spartan helmets can be found in organizational logos ranging from personnel companies to logistics battalions. While I’m comforted that the soldier refueling my vehicle has a personal connection to Thermopylae, I doubt they could find it on a map.

Can we stop the insanity already? While there are qualities of a warrior society to admire and possibly even emulate, that’s simply not who we are. Are there elements within our ranks that qualify as warriors? Certainly. But the person printing ID cards at the in-processing center? Not a warrior. The spoon slinging eggs at the dining facility – and let’s just acknowledge the fact that we’re too cultured to call it a mess hall as proof – probably wouldn’t do well fighting off the Huns. The dude with his ribbon rack spread across the rear window of his F-150 wants you to think he is a warrior, but he’s got more negligent discharges than actual time in combat.

Not everyone is a warrior, and that’s okay.

Doctrine Man telling it how it is, as per usual.
 
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