How Repetition Saves Lives

A humorous expression about the military describes it as 99% boredom followed by 1% of sheer terror. This is surprisingly a fairly accurate reality. For the majority of people in service today, the garrison environment of the military accurately fills most of the boredom cup up, leaving many people desiring more.

Boredom in garrison can be a result of many failures, but one of the largest misconceptions is that repetitive training is boring, and therefore should be avoided. Battle drills for instance are a series of actions which are repeatedly trained. “A battle drill is a collective action rapidly executed without applying a deliberate decision-making” (FM 25-101). In simplicity, this means that it is an action that is performed through muscle memory, instead of a deliberate planning process.

In war, hesitation can bring death just as quickly as poor decisions. In an ambush, survivors have only moments to act. Failing to do so will likely result in more casualties, not less. In this case, the only solution is to conduct a battle drill that has been rehearsed so that each individual understands their role and how to react without having to be guided.

Repetition TrainingThe Army has many battle drills, and each are focused on specific events based on the most successful techniques that are tried and proven. Drills for reacting to a near ambush, react to contact, and knock out a bunker have been learned through years of deployments in many different wars. While the enemy may change, the fundamental concepts rarely do.

During a battle drill, each individual has a part to play, and each is interchangeable with the other. This is so that if a leader is killed or injured, the remainder of the element will continue to fight without requiring further direction. This means that everyone must be trained down to the lowest level to ensure common understanding and expectations. Training is therefore repetitive in nature, with the fundamentals performed again and again, regardless of the environment. Whether the situation occurs in a forest, desert, swamp, or urban environment, the fundamental battle drill remains the same.

Junior soldiers that have not deployed may not recognize the importance of this process. It is only through experience that people recognize the true value of repetitive training. It is the leader’s responsibility to make it as stimulating as possible through the application of a changing environment, use of blanks, simulation rounds, or live fires with popup targets.

In time, the soldiers will come to work as a team against a common threat, employing their battle drills with precision and expertise, and always remembering the fundamental rule of training – even when everything is working smoothly, it is time to make a change and challenge the team more. If a leader is strong, have them be wounded and unable to influence, add a wounded civilian, provide clutter and noise to the situation. Through this, the soldiers will continue to develop their capabilities and be more effective when the situation requires it.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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