reply to post by VreemdeVlieendeVoorwep
I think facial hair growth (which runs against the grain of established U.S. military wear and appearance standards in general) lightens the
atmosphere & mind of a combatant, facilitating an environment were focus on combat is of primary importance versus upholding rigid standards that tend
to allow for the greatest opportunity cost of them all: time.
Being a good
soldier (thinking U.S. Army specifically, as I cannot speak for Marines, Sailors, or Airmen) is one thing. Being a capable
warrior is another ... in my opinion & experience. For instance you can check all the blocks of the former simply by meeting or exceeding specific
standards & toting the overall pomp and posh order that comes with being a good soldier. On the other hand you can be a capable warrior on the
battlefield, but in my opinion that requires allowing individual flexibility for men to be men according to their natural prowess & disposition. The
latter is not necessarily less orderly, but at the margins it is not quite the same as being a good soldier because these men are less constrained by
policy to be
a certain way.
I should say that being a good soldier does not preclude being a capable warrior. But time & again I've observed leaders in Afghanistan & Iraq
emphasize policy standards at the expense of operations. This has the effect of instituting what I call "a bad priority of work" in that its
structure too rigidly controls the behavior of men despite that these same men face mutilation or death 2, 3, 5 or more times a week.
Some commanders and leaders lighten up on the standards; I think those gents got their priorities in the right order. Others, however, were perhaps
not capable of adapting to the situation & simply directed their men to act according to what they'd been taught--that is, the last refuge of their
ability to lead men based on what they'd been taught rather than their ability to interface with their men, get feedback, develop new standards &
courses of action, and become that much more capable of an outfit for doing so. And that is not to imply that training is worthless, but I tend to
think of training as a general rule of thumb rather than an immediate muscle response for every conceivable circumstance. So my underlying opinion is
that facial hair is something of a psychological breach that redirects the priority & allows men to marginally (i.e. at the margins) direct their
fullest attention on combat versus upholding tendious & sometimes overbearing standards. And the funny thing is there are some leaders who will
probably say or think that facial hair growth lends to a lack discipline, but it's my opinion that these are the same leaders who simply do as they've
been taught & demonstrate neither initiative nor ability to adapt.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie "Moneyball" when Pitt's character says, "Adapt or die." I think a rather significant problem the U.S.
Army has is its resistance to adapt. On the other hand, there are those who seep into the ranks that ought not be in combat period. So as a general
rule there is good reason to create a lot of structure in order to modify & control behaviors simply to "keep in check" the bad ones among the
aggregate, but that is where leadership ought to nix them from the team, or at the very least reassign them to avert the problems that personality
conflicts invoke. Hmm ... it can be challenging.
I've probably not explained my reasoning very well, suffice it to say facial hair growth in AFG was primarily implemented to adapt & merge with local
populaces. Beyond that there's a quality of grittiness about a beard that is strangely commensurate with combat. And I think that is so because
modern decorum is less inclined toward unkempt facial hair, yet combat is as old as man. It's as though the facial hair is an outgrowth of an ancient
... trait (I can think of no better word to describe this idea), symbolizing the strength that is necessary to prevail. I'm just surprised that an
actual study was necessary to deduce that something so simple as a beard might lend to a more capable fighter.
Nice find by the way.
edit on 20-6-2012 by Kovenov because: (no reason given)