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On Combat by Dave Grossman

Summary

On Combat looks at the warrior mentality and what violence means to those gatekeepers of peace. Grossman, a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the US Army, highlights military and police officer accounts to illustrate concepts that warriors must be aware of in order to be successful. He covers topics such as the physiological responses in a violent situation and the mental impacts during and following such a situation. It is critical for a warrior to know what to expect, and then have trained as realistically as possible for such a moment. After the confrontation, taking the time to understand there are natural responses, and have an effective debrief to handle the experience. The body often has adaptations in the moment and how we understand them can enable a better functioning moment. Tactical breathing is a tool that can be utilized to help a warrior stay within an area of executing training. If the heart rate is too high, the motor functioning and mental clarity suffers a drop. There are some common physiological experiences in a violent situation, such as a blocking out loud sounds, release of the bowels, tunnel vision and some others. Understanding these are common, can put a warrior at ease. Likewise, mentally there are impacts as well. Understanding we can shift our perspective on events helps. We can also mentally prepare ourselves now for what we may experience. We can plant a productive thought now that enables surviving later. One such example was understanding you’re not dead until you’re dead. This means if you’re shot or injured in any fashion, understand you can fight on as long as you’re not dead. Such thinking can help someone overcome the pain in the critical moment and still do their job.
How it influenced me

Working with the military for a number of years, I’ve been fortunate to learn from many great men and women. Through stories, television, movies, and other media, we create our own understanding of an experience. I’m glad to have learned from so many wonderful people and that I can add this experience found within the book to more effectively relate with those I work with daily. It is encouraging to see such validation for the performance enhancement and resilience skills I teach. I also enjoy seeing the connection of concepts where there are people with similar visions for how we can support our soldiers/military members and that action is being implemented. The knowledge in the book will serve as a method of connecting with others, whether a common experience of reading the book, or by other means.

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