Team building exercises are increasingly popular in the military, as they
have been for decades in the corporate world. The idea is to get everyone in a
team to know, and trust one another. This has long been known as a critical
factor in sports, or combat. But now, many non-combat units have to expect
encountering fire fights and ambushes. Team building can be a matter of life or
aspect of the "team" in combat is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Since the development of gunpowder infantry weapons five centuries ago, the
team-work was mostly drills. It wasn't until World War I that there again
developed a need for the traditional combat team. Right after World War II,
social scientists discovered the importance of what they called, the
"primary group." That was a fancy word for "team," but
research showed that some armies were better at developing team spirit, and
team efficiency, than others.
several decades, and several more wars, before enough additional research, and
generals willing to act on it, brought about an intense interest in cultivating
these teams. One major obstacle was the U.S. "individual replacement"
system. This World War II concept, replaced combat casualties by just sending
the replacement to his new unit. This often happened while the battle was still
going on, and the new guy was often dead or wounded before the other guys in
his squad could even get to know his name.
to that was to pull a unit out of combat before bringing in replacements, and
training the new guys with the unit until everyone was confident that the unit
could do the job. American generals also had a hard time just keeping units
together long enough, before being shipped overseas, to develop the trust and
teamwork that makes such a big difference in combat. The wisdom of deliberate team building efforts have been
seen in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the troops have been
noted to be much more efficient and effective than others, on average, in the
effort now is to try and cultivate a team spirit, and efficiency, in the
non-combat units that are likely to get involved in combat. That's not easy, as
the combat support troops have lots of work to do that does not require the
kind of tight-knit teamwork that is so essential to an infantry squad, or a