Talk:Unit cohesion

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 Definition Social factors that make a military unit operate as a team under adversity [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories Military, Sociology and History [Editors asked to check categories]
 Subgroup category:  Military sociology
 Talk Archive none  English language variant American English

Overemphasis on DADT?

Unit cohesion is an issue that goes back to the beginning of military history, indeed including the cohesion of explicitly homosexual units such as the Theban Sacred Band. It puzzles me, then, why perhaps a quarter of the words in the article address arguments over the current US term "DADT", or why an American journalist in a general circulation news site is used as the source of the initial definition. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:34, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Looking at the history of the article (on Wikipedia) it seems that it was started in much the same vein as the CZ version by emphasizing the DADT aspect. The Wiki article has been saved from deletion, but only after all references to DADT were removed.
DADT is probably something that belongs in the article, but as a small part. Unit cohesion has been a concept long before DADT came on the scene. I agree with Howard that the use of 'Slate' magazine quotes in the opening line for a concept based in military terminology is probably unwise - I am sure we can find a more authoritative source for the definition. David Finn 05:49, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
This is not an article but a collection of quotes. A valid topic, but it is even hard to consider it as a stub. --Peter Schmitt 09:53, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Rethinking the approach

For the definition, I'd want to do some searching, but sources that immediately occur include the commander oriented one in Keegan's The Mask of Command, possibly Janowitz in The Professional Soldier, and individual vs. unit in Grossman's On Killing. In a way, the last is relevant to bringing in the tendency, with the introduction of firearms, of troops not to shoot to kill, and the overcoming of this with operant conditioning.

The literature on combat stress is relevant. Units with high cohesion keep their people functioning longer than units that do not have such cohesion, but the modern experiences suggest that the human limit is about 60 days of continuous combat. No one quite understands the stress, and it is real, of drone crews in Nevada that kill people 8000 miles away and then go home for dinner. Creating cohesion in such crews is a current concern, with serious attention being paid to creating it.

There were studies, at least some of which have been declassified, with Cold War bomber crews that were confident they would deliver nuclear weapons to their targets, but pessimistic that they would either survive, or have a home to which to return.

Special operations units have extremely high cohesion and work hard to create and keep it. At least in the US military, even the boot camp experiences now deliberately have high-stress bonding exercises; the US Marine Corps has always stressed tribal identity.

The article clearly cannot be simply a disguised argument against gays in the US military. Speaking only from a personal perspective, I know a number of actual soldiers and noncommissioned officers that were in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and were quite aware of the sexuality of others in their units. One sergeant told me that one soldier in a foxhole might tell another that he was gay, and the response might be "more women for me." If it was a cold night, they would still huddle together.

I personally know gay officers that served well, and closeted -- to varying extents. In medical units, for example, it tended neither to be a huge secret nor a huge concern. Intelligence units varied -- sometimes senior command would oust a valued unit member. The national intelligence agencies, however, have not considered homosexuality a bar to service, for many years.

Even for some of those quoted in the DADT section, we need proper sourcing and affiliations. For example, it should not have been an indirect reference through Media Matters when the primary source was Joint Forces Quarterly, and, significantly, the paper won the annual Secretary of Defense writing award. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:13, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for all the constructive criticism. I copied the article hastily here, because I didn't want hours of work to vanish like a candle flame being blown out.
I don't want the article only to be an attack on gays in the US military, although I suspect that the desire to suppress the "anti-gay" side at Wikipedia is a tacit motive for the hostility toward keeping it. Their DADT article is biased all the way over to the "pro-gay" side, with a heavy emphasis on the argument that homosexuals do not affect unit cohesion, morale or anything else of military importance.
I didn't think that made sense, especially in light of NPOV. How can the article conclude unit cohesion isn't affected, when there's not even an understanding of what it is, why it's important, how it's formed, what happens when it's lost, and what factors historically have led to its loss? So I felt the article should exist, if only to serve as fodder for the DADT debate.
But it's an interesting topic on its own, whether the DADT is completely suppressed or allowed to have its proper mention. --Ed Poor 19:22, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Unit cohesion is not an American issue alone, nor are LGBT members of militaries American issues alone. Even with the US military, the LGBT issue is broader than DADT.
I really should write up something on, for example, Task Force Smith, one of the early units rushed into the Korean War, and was almost immediately devastated, achieving nothing, because it was a hastily-pulled-together unit from a garrison, where the troops were poorly equipped and barely knew one another. The retreat from the Changjin Reservoir also reflects on cohesion, as the Army's Task Force Faith fell apart while the Marines had a legendary fighting retreat.
Let's not limit it to American cohesion. Few could ask more than the 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, or the French Foreign Legion at the Battle of Camerone. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:37, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, the effect of unit cohesion (and morale?) may sometimes dwarf other factors. But knowing what you're fighting for and believing that it's a just cause (see just war theory) also help. --Ed Poor 21:30, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
(corrected a link above) At least in the U.S. military, perhaps outside special operations units, most social science studies show that soldiers fight first for their comrades, rather than for abstractions of causes. Now, many of the Eastern European refugees who joined under the Lodge Act did have as their motivation "to kill Communists." Howard C. Berkowitz 23:42, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

How to proceed?

I think I can work on subpages without affecting my right to approve. We do have military, sociology and history editors, so it may not be critical if I do edit. In addition, I've been cleaning up some citations, again something I think is OK.

Going beyond that, I can advise. It's getting a little late, but I have a drawing on a scrap of paper, suggesting a pyramid of factors that go into cohesion: individual motivation/courage/heroism, peer bonding, individual and unit skills, and leadership. I haven't quite decided where ideological motivation fits: see, for example, dau tranh (Vietnamese) and thought reform (primarily Chinese). Not so much "ideological" as "tribal", there's some material in the United States Marine Corps article.

I'm not immediately finding my copy of Keegan's The Mask of Command, but it's essential reading, I think, for command styles that lead to cohesion. Alexander the Great, for example, is his exemplar of "heroic leadership", where the leader had to be seen in the heart of battle, no longer a requirement and often a bad idea. There are still special cases, ranging from "H" Jones in the Falklands War to David Shoup at the Battle of Tarawa. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:36, 26 April 2011 (CDT)