Friday, March 26, 2010

Praxis: The Bayonet -- “Closing with the enemy is a massively psychological act."


Some of you may remember this Praxis post from late January on the subject of the U,S, Army dropping the school of the bayonet from training.

You may also remember that LTG Hertling weighed in on the subject in these electronic pages and an 82nd Airborne veteran also provided this analysis.

Here, thanks to Irregular TypeAy is the latest British take on the subject.


March 18, 2010

In defence of the bayonet: cold steel always has the psychological edge

Tom Coghlan: Analysis

"They don’t like it up ’em . . .”

It is the rallying cry of Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army — and it is still relevant today, according to the Ministry of Defence.

“Our Service personnel are trained to use a bayonet as part of their mandatory basic training. This is an essential part of close-combat training which prepares them for eventualities they may face in theatre,” says a spokesman for the ministry.

The trend in the recent history of warfare has been towards picking the opponent off long before “cold steel” might become necessary, but British troops have been forced to resort to the use of bayonets in the not-too-distant past.

Bayonets were fixed and used in the Falklands and the Army conducted its most recent bayonet charge in Iraq in 2004, when 20 soldiers of the 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment attacked 100 insurgents in the Battle of Danny Boy, a fierce fight at a British checkpoint of the same name. Last year Lieutenant James Adamson was awarded a Military Cross for taking on two Taleban fighters in Afghanistan with the bayonet attached to his SA80 rifle.

British Forces now carry a greater variety of weapons, such as light support machineguns, heavy machineguns, snipers’ rifles and SA80s with underslung grenade launchers that cannot be fitted with a bayonet. However, serving soldiers still assert that a bayonet has a powerful psychological effect on the user and the potential foe, and in certain circumstances the bayonet can save a soldier’s life.

“Closing with the enemy is a massively psychological act,” says Colonel Stuart Tootal, who commanded a parachute battalion in Helmand province.

“Fixing bayonets bolsters the will to close with and kill an enemy and seeing soldiers with bayonets fixed has a psychological effect.

“I don’t criticise the US Army for choosing to focus on other weapons but, personally, while I recognise that the bayonet will be used less often, I wouldn’t give it up.”

CPT Lew Millet leads his soldiers in a bayonet charge that won him the Medal of Honor, Korea, 1951.


Pat H said...

I'm inclined to agree with the psychological advantage of the bayonet, not to mention the fact that, if the opponent happens to speak your language, the shouted "Fix Bayonets" might have a chilling effect since most of them won't have one these days.

After your Praxis of January on Bayonets I did a bit of research of those available and narrowed down the choices to two current production models, one of low cost and one of higher cost.

The first, the USMC OKC3s by Ontario Knife Company, is the US Marines current issue. It has a non-slip grip material and eight inch blade. The scabbard is a combination of thermoplastic and webbing and is set up for MOLLE attachment or belt carry.

The higher end is the Fulcrum Bayonet by the Italian knife maker, Extrema Ratio. This will fit all NATO standard bayonet mounts, personally tested and confirmed. The blade is a proprietary cobalt stainless steel of Austrian manufacture with known long term edge holding capability. The scabbard is possibly the most robust I've ever seen, is both MOLLE compatible or belt attachable. It comes with several two inch web straps for various attachments.

Either of these bayonets will work well in my opinion. The sole exception is if you have a special suppressor mount as a flash hider in lieu of the standard mil-spec M16 hider.

Cybrludite said...

Earned him the MoH, not won. It's not a Powerball ticket...

d3vnull said...

Then, Sir, we will give them the bayonet! (Stonewall Jackson's reply to Colonel B.E. Bee when he reported that the enemy were beating them back. At the first battle of Bull Run, July 1861)

Taylor H said...

I have to agree with all of his points, and it just looks cool!

sonofliberty said...

thought this made an interesting afterword... LTG Hertling weighing in

Wyn Boniface said...

The spear never goes out of style, nor the ax.

Bawb said...

“The fear of having their guts explored with cold steel in the hands of battle-maddened men has won many a fight.”

“When the fire fight starts, bayonets should be fixed. They encourage our soldiers and discourage the enemy.”

“Few men are killed by the bayonet; many are scared of it.”
General George S Patton, Jr.

Anonymous said...

One small correction:

"CPT Lew Millet leads his soldiers in a bayonet charge that won him the Medal of Honor, Korea, 1951."

Capt. Millet did not "win" the Medal of Honor like some prize in a contest. He EARNED it.

The Old Guide

Anonymous said...

My 10 inch 1943 bayonet with the flaming thing on the scabbard still fits my M1 Garand and my 03A3 Springfield; imagine that.
Haven't used it in a while.
Not a spot of rust on it anywhere.
Semper Fi
Mountain rifleman

theotherryan said...

I have two thoughts. First is that the picture/ story shown were from Korea where we carried a rifle that holds 8 rounds. With rifles that hold 30 the need to stab someone to death because your gun is empty is greatly decreased.

Next it is not a question of if bayonets (or anything else) are not useful. It is a question of whether they are more useful than other training as time and resources are finite. A day spent on bayonet training and the assault course is a day that can't be spent learning dirty moves to kill someone up close or shooting rifles. I personally did the old bayonet training. It basically wasted an entire day and the jist of it is that you put the pointy end in the other guy and try to not let him do that to you.

Anonymous said...

One of the greatest honors was meeting Col. Millet at Riverside National Cemetery on a Memorial Day when I was just a Scout.

Hearing him personally describe that day in Korea to a group of four of us boys was something I'll never, ever forget.

Rest in peace, Sir.

J3Maccabee said...

Other Ryan -
"the jist of it is that you put the pointy end in the other guy and try to not let him do that to you."
You have a gift for boiling it down to the essence. I agree that a whole day is 'overkill' , so to speak - an hour should do. Yet I still think that it is a powerful tool.
Plus - if you want you can use your bayonet, at least the shorter ones, not the old style - for every day chores without seriously harming it, and keep your Kabar razor sharp for close encounters of the unwanted kind.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter if your magazine holds 30 rounds and you have another 100 in your pouches; you can run out of ammunition. Since our kids may very well be fighting billions of Chinese in the future you can bet on ammo running out during some skirmish. Not training a soldier how to use a bayonet is a bad move. Though you can use your rifle as a club (think back to "weapons of opportunity" training for you Marines in the group) you may need a bayonet/knife to gut your opponent, take some souvenir ears, or open up a can of soup. I may not have my rifle everywhere I drive but you can bet my K-bar is within arm's reach and knowing how to use it just might save my ass some day. You can always rely on the ability of your knife to kill the enemy if all else fails. Can you always rely on some kid to cover your ass by flying a Predator from the other side of the world? Technology does not replace everything.