There was a time when I thought, as I believe many people think, that military and police personnel were highly trained in areas of fighting. It’s a logical assumption. If somebody’s job relies on the use of force you would expect them to be well trained in the use of force. However as I learned more about firearms I also learned that military and police personnel commonly have substandard firearm training. As Tim at Gun Nuts Media explained:

Those who have never been in the military often make the mistake of assuming that everyone within the organization is extensively trained in the use of small arms. This is not true. The unpleasant reality is that a large chunk of the people in uniform (be that a police or military uniform) are extremely poorly trained with small arms. I know a number of people who did multiple tours in the military without ever once touching a weapon. The handgun training that does happen is very rudimentary, happens infrequently, isn’t sustained by any ongoing practice, and generally results in somebody who it is hoped will be at least intelligent enough to know which end of the tube the bullet comes out of. That’s it. Even infantrymen who are supposed to be the warfighters get minimal handgun training that doesn’t leave them remotely prepared to use the weapon under combat conditions.

I’ve shot with quite a few military and police trained individuals who were, what I consider, abysmal with all manners of small arms. As I study martial arts I’m also learning that military and police personnel also have substandard training in hand to hand combat. Many, if not most, of the supposed hand to hand tactics taught to police have a very narrow range of applicability. For example, many of the pressure point tactics work well against a semi-compliant opponent but are practically impossible to execute on a fully resistant opponent who knows even a little about hand to hand fighting. From what I’ve noticed the military does a slightly better job since it spends time teaching soldiers how to utilize many objects as hand to hand weapons but even their training is surprisingly limited (granted, their primary weapon is their rifle but I already covered that their training with small arms is pretty pitiful).

Here in the United States we seem to have adopted a quantity over quality mentality when it comes to training police and military personnel. This is probably because training, for anything honestly but specifically for fighting in this case, takes dedication and a lot of fucking work. If you look at professional fighters and high ranking competition shooters they invest a great deal of their lives into mastering their trade. On the downside that means we’re stuck with a local police force running around with weapons they’re generally not well trained to handle and foreign countries get to deal with our military personnel who suffer the same problem. On the upside it also means that both groups will have very few if any encountered with people whose training exceeds their own. The number of professional fighters and competition shooters in the world is fairly small and most of the people who have invested so much of their time into mastering a skill are too busy to be fucking around with the police or military.

But I’m left wondering if our country’s decision to focus on quantity is partially to blame for our military and especially our police having a propensity to use far more force than is necessary. Competency often leads to confidence. Would a cop be a likely to shoot somebody if they were extremely confident in their hand to hand skills? Would cops be less likely to spray and pray with their firearms if they were extremely confident in their marksmanship? I’ve seen quite a few people who, in lacking competency, opt for overkill. Not just in fighting mind you. But in fighting the consequences are higher because those who tend to lack confidence will often attempt to compensate with more violence than a situation would actually need. In the case of police work that can make the difference between restraining a guy without hurting him and brutally assaulting him.

Perhaps it’s time that we demand military and especially police personnel dedicated a major chunk of their time to training. Yes it will involve high drop out rates as the lazy will seek alternative, less rigorous, work. But do we really want those people throwing around their authority? And it’s possible that those who remain will be less apt to cause great deals of harm. It’s an idea I’ve been throwing around recently and thought others might wish to consider.