... Basically, I'm interested in serving, and my fiancée's ruled out active duty service. I'm 27, so I'd like to start before I'm done with law school (which would provide the additional benefit of the enticements that the military offers for students), but want to make sure that it won't be an a crippling handicap at a top law school.
A natural killer is a person who has a predisposition to kill -- he enjoys combat and feels little or no remorse about killing the enemy. These men have existed throughout the history of warfare, and their feats have often been hailed as heroic. They constitute less than 4% of the force, yet some studies show that they do almost half of the killing. It is important to identify natural killers before combat, because these soldiers are both a vital asset and a potential liability—correctly positioning them in a unit can turn the tide of battle. To better understand the importance of identifying these soldiers, one should understand what makes soldiers kill, the characteristics of natural killers and their battlefield capabilities and limitations.A temperament for killing exists among some human beings. Marshall, in identifying the battlefield fighters, said, "the same names continued to reappear as having taken the initiative, and relatively few fresh names were added to the list on any day." A post-World War II study by R. L. Swank and W. E. Marchand proposed that 2% of soldiers were "aggressive psychopaths" who did not suffer from the normal remorse or trauma associated with killing. I use the word suffer because when the job of the soldier is to kill, those fettered by their conscience are suffering while doing their job. We tend to shun the concept of the willing killer because it offends our kinder sensibilities, but a controlled psychopath is an asset on the killing fields. Those who possess such a temperament are natural killers and many have served this country well. The problem lies in identifying these individuals and positioning them where they can be most effective. psychopath ... sociopath, antisocial personality type or undercontrolled personality type ... someone who lacks social emotions and often resorts to violence, deception or manipulation as a means to get what he wants. These people constitute 3 to 4% of the male population and 1% of the female. Such people who enter the military are not monsters waiting to be released. They can be level-headed, productive soldiers, and if put into the right situation, they will kill the enemy aggressively and without remorse. If these soldiers are in our units, how can we identify them? A predisposition to kill is the result of genetics and early childhood experience. There are common traits that are indicative of natural killers. While the collection of these traits is not absolutely deterministic of a killer, it is a good framework for identifying those who may have this propensity. In general, the natural killer found in the US Army lacks social emotions, is a later son (not first-born), got into frequent fights as a child, enjoys contact sports, is from a middle or upper class background, is an extrovert, has above-average intelligence and a caustic sense of humor. While no specific violence gene has yet been isolated, there is ample evidence to suggest that violent tendencies are inherited. Researcher D.C. Rowe posits that some individuals have a genotype that disposes them to antisocial behavior. These individuals are characterized by a deficit of social emotions which include love, shame, guilt, empathy and remorse. They are keen predictors of other people's behavior. Unbridled by emotions, they rely solely on actuarial data to predict outcomes, never resorting to feelings or hunches. They focus on short-term outcomes without taking into account the emotional reactions of those with whom they are dealing. Thus they may come across as cold, impersonal and manipulative. As previously mentioned, the natural killer is most likely not a first-born son. Later sons are generally more aggressive and have less fear or anxiety in dangerous situations ... Later borns, by virtue of being routinely dominated by their siblings, ultimately feel less fear during stressful situations. They also feel the need to prove their worth over their siblings and more quickly accept dangerous challenges ... The military provides ample displacement outlets for this aggression in the form of physical training, field maneuvers and weapons ranges. It is the perfect environment for a sociopath to excel.The natural killer is an aggressive athlete whose physical makeup allows him to excel at contact sports. Fighters had a high masculinity factor or outdoors adventurousness about them. Their body types were larger; on average they were an 1 inch taller and 8 lbs. heavier than the nonfighters. They were rugged individuals who had channeled their aggressions through contact sports. Another discriminator for identifying natural killers is their socio-economic background. Natural killers usually come from a middle or upper class background. The volunteer military has had the luxury to pick and choose those who will be allowed into the service, and we exclude those with criminal records. Sociopaths follow a "cheater strategy" to obtain what they want. The lack of a social conscience allows the sociopath to cheat without remorse. Consequently, those who find themselves in the economically disadvantaged lower class will resort to crime unless placed in a highly controlled environment. In other words, a sociopath from a depressed economic background will most likely have a criminal record, and under today's standards, he would not be able to enter the military. Thus, natural killers in the US military will most likely come from a middle or upper class background. Sociopaths are generally extroverts. One reason for this is the inheritance of a nervous system that is relatively insensitive to low levels of stimulation. Individuals with this physiotype tend to be extroverted.The natural killer has above-average intelligence. Like sociopaths with no economic resources, those without above-average intelligence end up in jail. Therefore, sociopaths in our military are usually intelligent. Additionally, the natural killer has a caustic sense of humor that relies on sharp wit and biting sarcasm. Personality-type testing may also identify natural killers. One such test already in use by the military is the Myers-Briggs personality-type test. Considering the characteristics discussed above, the natural killer would most likely be an ESTP (extroverted, sensory, thinking, perceiving) personality type on this test. Matching the ESTP personality type to intelligent, caustic, later sons will help identify potential natural killers. Personality-type testing at initial entry could identify and help place natural killers where they can best employ their talent—in infantry, armor and special operations units. The individual soldier does make a difference on the killing fields. The natural killer is a vital asset to a unit because he is a killing machine that will turn the tide of battle when the chips are down. During World War II, 40% of the US Army Air Forces' air-to-air killing was done by 1% of its pilots. Marshall's work and the HumRRO study both found that a small percentage of soldiers did most of the fighting. It is not enough to rely on conditioning to produce killers -- genetics and childhood environment have already molded them. Atrocities are the result of the release of pent-up hostilities -- not a characteristic of sociopaths who live for the moment. Natural killers may participate in atrocities but they will not initiate them. Consequently, many of these individuals seek out fast-paced specialty units such as Airborne, Ranger or Special Forces units. The natural killer will become bored in a regular unit and may seek the stimuli of sports, fighting or drugs. Natural killers are motivated by competition and excitement, not a sense of sacrifice -- they are not the kind of soldiers who will leap on a grenade to protect others. Another characteristic of the natural killer is to usurp authority in a crisis to turn the tide of battle. If there is a well-defined decisive point of the battle, the commander may choose to place natural killers at that point. They will provide that final measure of resolve in the assault or become the defense linchpin ... Quick to take charge, they will move to the sound of the guns unless tightly controlled