Good to hear from you again. I hope you’re trip went well. Japan can be an amazing (and expensive) place.
Far enough about your point. The distance has always been a factor in desensitizing soldiers, and to an extent I think it’s both helpful and necessary in a modern military. The concern is that with drone warfare, and training practices more generally, it has become devolved to such a widespread level. Not simply drone teams, but combat brigades are practicing more and more on video games (as have large urban police forces). This creates, to my mind, a disturbing sense of desensitization. For example, in WWII, a high percentage (I can’t remember specifically, but somewhere above 25%) of soldiers were afraid to fire their weapons for fear of killing. Obviously, with an all-volunteer army this becomes less of a problem, but the moral considerations exemplified in that statistic is, to my mind, a healthy thing for a military, particularly one in a democracy. We need to know that soldiers will not indiscriminately fire on civilians, or what is more likely the case, can make the appropriate judgments as to who is a combatant versus not. Video game warfare specifically induces a separation between soldier and target, such that some U.S. GIs have said “[combat is] like playing Halo.” But there is no reset button obviously.
I’ve often said that the U.S. has the best instrumental military in history. It can kill with incredible efficiency, and that is to its credit. But, I have also said that, in asymmetrical conflict, its weakness is in the existential nature of its soldiers. I don’t doubt that they are willing to give up their lives. However, I do wonder how much they’re willing to “give up” the lives of their enemies, and how they perceive those enemies. This is what I mean, and why I fear, a lack of doctrine in this situation.