Author Tours Northern Camps
Lance Cpl. Eric D. Arndt
Article reprinted as first published
by the Okinawa
Marine Newspaper, Sept. 8, 2006;
reprinted with permission.
SCHWAB, Okinawa (Sep 8, 2006)
audience of hundreds watches intently
as a charismatic guest speaker methodically paces
the theater floor. Suddenly, he whips a marker
from his blue jeans the way one might unholster
a sidearm and feverishly scribbles the word "KILL" on
a large paper pad.
The speaker, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Dave
Grossman, shared his expertise with Marines and
sailors from 3rd Marine Division recently, discussing
a topic he has studied extensively: killing.
Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman speaks
to service members Aug. 25 at the
Camp Courtney Theater. The presentation
covered a variety of subjects stemming
from research on the psychological
and physiological effects killing
has on an individual. Grossman
authored the Pulitzer Prize-nominated
book "On Killing: The Psychological
Cost of Learning to Kill in War
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Eric D. Arndt).
author of the book "On Killing: The Psychological
Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society," spoke
at Camps Hansen, Schwab and Courtney Aug. 25, lecturing
on a field he describes as "warrior science" -
the study of an individual's mind processes and
emotional conditions while taking the life of another
talk about that dirty, four letter word," the
retired Army lieutenant colonel said, his voice
low - the calm before a storm of enthusiasm. "You
can read a hundred military manuals and never come
across that word."
speaking about a sensitive topic, addressed his
have the most difficult task known to man," Grossman
said. "You have to decide whether or not to
kill another human being. I teach people all about
the realities of combat. Thinking that you know
about combat from watching the movies is like thinking
you know all about elephants from watching 'Dumbo.'"
there is a great amount of knowledge amassed concerning
warfare from a broad, overarching view, such as
commanders' and generals' perspectives, the science
of individuals killing is a relatively new endeavor,
have learned more about the psychology and physiology
of the warrior in the past 50 years than in the
5,000 years before that," he said. "We've
already studied the princes and commanders; what
we need to know about now are the (men in the fight)."
used anecdotal evidence from the 2004 terrorist
siege of a school in Beslan, Russia to affirm the
necessity of trained personnel ready to respond
to deadly force threats. He presented the idea
of the "bulletproof mind" - a way of
thinking that allows service members to come to
terms with the realities of their mission and more
successfully cope with the mental effects that
can occur afterward.
said the establishment of the bulletproof mind
requires individuals to change their methods of
consideration because outside sources, such as
Hollywood and the media, have established incorrect
perceptions of the warrior.
have to understand that when we operate under the
rules of engagement and under authority, our actions
are not murder," Grossman said. "We are
conducting an act required by our civilization
in order to exist."
said individuals should focus on the fact that
the broad majority of men and women who go to combat
are mentally healthy and productive afterward,
and warriors should avoid thinking of themselves
as erroneous combatant stereotypes presented in
movies, such as the depressed psychological wreck "pity
party" and the cold, detached, amoral "macho
also described the way the mind works under immense
stresses such as combat and why individuals who
come to terms with the functioning of the brain
have an easier time preventing post-traumatic stress
David Marruffo, the safety chief of Headquarters
Battalion, 3rd MarDiv, said Hearing Grossman speak
answered thoughts some Marines have had since deploying
to war zones.
think everyone getting ready to go to Iraq should
hear his speech," he said. "I wish I'd
have heard him before (I went the first time).
It made me feel better about performing (my mission)."