Aircrew coping as well or better than regular soldiers"

TimBit

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Grossman talks about this at length in "On Killing". It has been a trend in warfare for centuries to try and increase the distance with the enemy, in part to protect oneself but also to make an intimately repulsive act (the killing of another human being) less repulsive. Case in point, WWII, artillery accounted for over 50% of battlefield casualties, but accounted for a smaller percentage of shell shock than infantry or armour. Death from above is somewhere in there.

I think however the enormity of the action must account for something. I wonder if, for example, an ICBM crew could get some fomr of PTSD, knowing that their actions led to millions of death. I guess it`s part of the reasons why targetting packages would not have included description of the target.
 

bdave

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"On killing" is excellent.
Dehumanizing people would definitely make them easier to kill and lessen the effects of PTSD.
"Destroying a target" as opposed to "killing an enemy".
 

Greymatters

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SupersonicMax said:
And I think we can say that being physically distant from the fight will "protect" you from all this (being a sniper or aircrew) to some extent.

Snipers and pilots know better than anyone else that distance means nothing, and none of them that Ive known thought that distance would 'protect' them...

 
A

aesop081

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Its is less a question of physical distance as it is a question of detachment. What aircrews kill on most occasions is a dot on a radar screen or a figure on an video screen. It is easy not to think of those targets as human. Sometimes its even easier as the target is just a set of coordinates.
 

dogger1936

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Something else to throw out there is where each sleep/ sleep deprivation.
Sleeping in the relative safety of KAF compared to Lakokel (spelling?) or Zangabad etc. Waking in the middle of the night to load bodies on a chopper due to a lucky munition would be a different experience that a pilot would have. Required sleep due to the technical enviro of a pilot compared to the nil sleep req for ground pounders. Just for food for thought anyway.

The first person I killed I had an erection, my hands shaking perma smile on my face. My stomach was quivery and to this very day I can see the mans face in the site. Once I seen his body after the dustcloud settled I felt like a God. And in fact it sorta was godlike...in the sense of taking someones life. I done a lot of thinking about that first one while I was there. I had just stopped someones existence. And that's a very powerful thing.

None of those following that particular first one had a big effect on my mind etc. Excitement....for sure! But much less thinking about it after. Congratulatory Perrier when the situation allowed and carry on with task.

Kiowa pilots were shooting people in the very close and personal zone as well.
 

Good2Golf

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UAV operators can get messed up, especially when in some cases they are on a different continent, and leave for home after duty, and have to try and be normal with a family after potentially targeteering/kinetically effecting combatants.  There are also a few different groupings of aircrew, as some are very much closely connected to the dispersal of thousands of rounds a minute at some fairly short ranges, and more recently get shot down themselves. 

Is there a reference to a study or something that I missed seeing referred to in this thread?  I have heard of such studies for UAV operators but don't know the context within which the OP makes his post.

I would venture to say there is just as much variation amongst different kinds of aircrew in combat and their respective experiences as there are amongst the combat, combat support and combat service support soldiers on the ground.  A soldier involved in a short-range TIC would likely feel more effect than a CAS pilot dropping a GBU on a grid.  On the other hand, a Griffon flight engineer and/or door gunner taking out insurgents on short final to an LZ may feel more effect than the crew of an M777 back at a FOB.


*edit - just saw the other post that spawned this one...*
 

SupersonicMax

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Greymatters said:
Snipers and pilots know better than anyone else that distance means nothing, and none of them that Ive known thought that distance would 'protect' them...

I am a pilot and I can tell you that between shooting someone 40 some odd miles out with a missile (or bombing a coordinate/building) and killing someone 100m away, I know which one I would have more nightmares about.
 

HItorMiss

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SupersonicMax said:
I am a pilot and I can tell you that between shooting someone 40 some odd miles out with a missile (or bombing a coordinate/building) and killing someone 100m away, I know which one I would have more nightmares about.


Properly trained you likely wont have nightmares about either, I have done the short range thing more then once I have no feeling about it one way or the other.... My nightmarss comes from the guys on my side I couldn't save or decision I made that cost friends/mentors their lives.

 

mariomike

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SupersonicMax said:
I am a pilot and I can tell you that between shooting someone 40 some odd miles out with a missile (or bombing a coordinate/building) and killing someone 100m away, I know which one I would have more nightmares about.

This is regarding Canadian airmen from World War Two, so it may no longer be relevant. But, for what it is worth:
"The notion of killing German civilians severally or in bulk troubled only a tiny handful."
Bomber Command by Max Hastings.
page 146

Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay, reportedly said, "I sleep clearly every night.":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Tibbets#Interviews
 

dogger1936

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BulletMagnet said:
Properly trained you likely wont have nightmares about either, I have done the short range thing more then once I have no feeling about it one way or the other.... My nightmarss comes from the guys on my side I couldn't save or decision I made that cost friends/mentors their lives.

Concur. Although  I wouldnt say "properly trained". I have zero problem with the killing of any taliban myself. However some people do. Well trained or not.
Most of my issues stem's from near death, friendly cas,and anger at the lack of action by some.
 

mariomike

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I came across this and would like to add it to the topic:
"...the term “morality of altitude” that was coined in to reference the disconnection of the pilot at 10,000 feet
from the destruction caused by bombing on the ground. This disconnection led to a lower incidence of
psychological problems amongst USAF pilots than their US Army colleagues on the ground during the
Vietnam conflict.":
http://ftp.rta.nato.int/public/PubFullText/RTO/MP/RTO-MP-HFM-136/MP-HFM-136-12.pdf

Regarding "10,000 feet". I have read a lot of photocopies of RCAF Form 540 "Operations Record Book" and Form 541 "Details of Work carried out", and they often report bombing primary targets from altitudes above 20,000 feet, at night, during WW2.
This would indicate that the "disconnection" was perhaps greater than during the Vietnam War.
 

renemongeau

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Pilots work with really good technicians, they are not alone and they know their jets are well inspected. I am not a soldier. I don’t have a specific culture and training. I only think an order is not a debate so you are only responsible for. Dealing with our emotions is not weak, you can’t ignore any kind of information in communication. Myself, it is a big issue. If you cheat your wife, don’t invite me. I don’t know why I extract all information from someone, this is unwilling harassment. Perhaps, a mental unwanted defence system. If you think about something, you will say it with me.

  However, Are you seriously not affected by some news when you are a pilot?



https://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/19/national/us-pilots-avoid-prosecution-for-bombing-canadian-troops.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hawk_Down_(film)


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