The importance of sustaining Warrior Ethos is indicated in vignettes which describe actions that resulted in award of the Congressional Medal of Honor:
Private First Class Melvin L. Brown, US Army, company D, 8th Engineer Combat Battalion exhibited extraordinary heroism on 4 September 1950, and demonstrated the first three tenets of Warrior ethos:
While his platoon was securing Hill 755 (the Walled City), the enemy, using heavy automatic weapons and small arms, counter attacked. Taking a position on a 50 foot high wall he delivered heavy rifle fire on the enemy. His ammunition was soon expended and although wounded, he remained at his position and threw his few grenades into the attackers causing many casualties. When his supply of grenades was exhausted his comrades from nearby foxholes tossed others to him and he left his position, braving a hail of fire, to retrieve and throw them at the enemy. The attackers continued to assault his positon and pfc Brown, weaponless, drew his entrenching tool from his pack and calmly awaited until they 1 by 1 peered over the wall, delivering each a crushing blow upon the head. Knocking 10 or 12 enemy from the wall, his daring action so inspired his platoon that they repelled the attack and held their position. (Mission first, never accept defeat, never quit).
A more recent and compelling example of the four tenets of Warrior Ethos is that describing the 3 October 1993 actions and extraordinary heroism of Master Sergeant Gary I. Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randall D. Shughart. The citations show that Master Sergeant Gordon and Sergeant First Class Shughart distinguished themselves by actions above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Sniper Team Leader and Sniper Team Member, United States Army special Operations command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Master Sergeant Gordon’s Sniper team provided precision fire from the lead helicopter during an assault at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. When Master Sergeant Gordon learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the second crash site, he and Sergeant First Class Shughart unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After the third request to be inserted, they received permission to perform this volunteer mission.
Equipped with only sniper rifles and pistols, Master Sergeant Gordon and first Class Sergeant Shughart, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. They pulled the pilot and other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed them in the most vulnerable position. They killed an undetermined number of attackers while traveling the perimeter, protecting the doomed crew. Their actions saved the pilot’s life. Sergeant First Class Shughart continued his protective fire until he depleted his ammunition and was fatally wounded. After his own rifle ammunition was exhausted, Master Sergeant Gordon returned to the wreckage, gave a rifle with the last 5 rounds to the dazed pilot with the words, “good luck”.” Then, he radioed for help and armed only with his pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded. This is a heroic example of the 4 tenets of the Warrior Ethos: Mission first, never accept defeat, never quit, never leave a fallen comrade.
These tenets reveal the nature of the Warrior Ethos commitment. There is an explicit commitment to one’s fellow Soldiers. The tenets also imply a commitment to an organization, to a group whatever size is necessary to execute a mission successfully, insofar as the mission is the raison d’etre for the organization or group. The groups to which a Soldier must be committed, and that influence the Soldier’s mindset, can be nested. Sometimes the commitment can be described as to a single individual, another member of a team, or to the elements within a squad, to the platoon or company with a larger operational unit, all the way up to the Army as a whole, and ultimately to the Nation. The guidance of the Combat Support Agency suggests that Warrior Ethos requires an understanding by all Soldiers of the interrelationships of such nested groups, not only with respect to the objectives that the smaller groups derive from larger groups, but also because of one’s thoughts and actions in this social context increases the likelihood that one’s thoughts and actions will be motivated by something larger than oneself.
This Warrior Ethos above exactly describes the evolutionarily and genetically selected, and now neurologically hardwired tribal approach to survival that has resulted in Homo sapiens becoming the dominant and now the only human species on the earth.
Early signs of this Warrior Ethos could very well have been seen in the successful hunting of larger prey by our hominid ancestors like Homo habilis and Homo erectus. Hunting prey in an organization with sub groups with different roles functioning as a unit could result in a successful hunt. Ancient humans used complex hunting techniques to ambush and kill antelopes, gazelles, wildebeest and other large animals at least two million years ago.
Recall the vignette described in Neuroreality Chapter 7 about a group of Homo habili 2 million years ago coming across a group of Homo rudolfesi that they’d never seen before. Perhaps at that time the warrior ethos was a developing evolutionary strategy. From that time until 70,000 BC perhaps this Warrior Ethos had evolved into the dominant genetically selected trait that lead to an exit of Homo sapiens from Africa and for them to overcome all other hominid species and become the only human species on the planet. As stated in The Tribe and Modern Society, these Homo sapiens must have outfought, outhunted and outbred everyone else. This genetically evolved and selected Warrior Ethos, perhaps prominent at the exit of Homo sapiens from Africa 70,000 years ago, lead to the dominance of this human species and the extinction of others. These are the hominids that modern humans are descended from, and it may well be because of the Warrior Ethos.
If the Warrior Ethos was perhaps the primary reason for our becoming the dominant and only human species on earth, along with cognitive and confirmation bias and argumentative theory mentioned earlier, what is the present state of this evolutionarily selected and genetically present Warrior Ethos? Read the next Chapter on Soldier’s Returning From Combat.
I would like to thank all veterans both past and present, and current active members of the armed forces for providing our society with the freedom of speech that allows citizens to talk about anything, in this case, synthisophy. Thank you.