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Modern Military Psychology

In most nations around the globe, one of the key department’s that the government of the day heavily invests in is the military department. The main reason for this is to ensure that its citizens are well protected from internal attacks and conflicts and at the same time it is well equipped to protect her borders from external attacks and fight off any invasion that may arise. In the recent past however the military has played a major role in the fight against terrorism and other terrorist activities.

The history of military psychology dates back to the late 18th century when one well celebrated scientist know as James McKeen Cattel used the term “mental tests” to refer to tests carried on military personnel to determine their mental strength and alertness. The same technology was also applied to soldiers during the World War I and II to determine the level of intelligence of the soldiers, this tests were carried out in two different sets; Army Alpha Test(AAT) to test for the literacy of the soldiers and Army Beta Test (ABT) to test the illiteracy of the soldier. With time however there have been developments on the “mental tests” to bring forth what is currently known as modern military psychology.

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the modern military psychology; the paper will look at the different categories of military psychology that are applied in to the military personnel. The importance of the psychology to the soldiers, their families and the entire military department will also be discussed during the course of the study. In conclusion the paper will give a summary of the important point that will have been mentioned and discussed in the paper.

Modern Military Psychology

The armed force just like any other profession has its personnel who must abide by the laid down rules and regulations; in addition to that persons in different professions display different behaviors (psychology) depending on one’s field of profession. Routledge has stated that military psychology can be described as the study of behavior of persons who work in the military or in the Armed Forces (Routledge, 12). It is important to note that, psychologists involved in military psychology are not only military psychologists but civilian psychologists as well. Psychology study covers all areas that are related to the human mind, however for the case of the military psychology, it pays specific attention on the psychology of military combat, military general life and finally the psychology organization of the military. The rapid growth and development of the internet communication technology (ICT) has not affected the business and telecommunication sectors alone but the medical fraternity as well, it is for this reason that there is the existence of the modern day military psychology (Estrada, 2005a).

There are several machines that have been developed in the past few decades that the military uses to carry out aptitude test on their personnel; one example such a machine is the Wechser Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) that was developed by David Wechser. The same machine was also used by civilians to test for their level of intelligence, as for the children, they have a special machine; the Wechser Children Intelligence Scale (WCIS) (Wescher, 1955).

Kennedy and Zillmer have observed that different types of psychology military studies are aimed at understanding different aspects related to the military. There are two main categories of military psychology; clinical and operational psychology (Kennedy and Zillmer, 36).

Clinical military psychology: There are some factors that are taken into consideration by the military chief before recommending clinical military psychology test to a soldier. Budd & Harvey have come up with some symptoms and characteristics that if displayed by an army officer then he/she should be advised to take a clinical military psychology test; weird behavior(s) by the officer for instance threatening of co-workers, alcohol, drug and spousal abuse and other vices like gambling, unpredictable change in moods, and signs of depression or bad temper, drop in performance by a soldier who was once a top performer among other symptoms (Budd and Harvey, 37). By carrying out the tests, then the military psychologists will be able to determine whether the soldier can still carry out his/her military duties, if the soldier can be trusted with a weapon or confidential military information, if there is a family mental condition that can be “blamed” for being the cause of the above stated behavior and finally the probability of the soldier returning to full military duty if they are given full treatment. The above tests are usually carried on soldiers who are returning from deployment due to the difficulty conditions that they experience, they have developed some of those symptoms  

Operational military psychology: In the recent times, there has been an increase of terrorist activities around the globe and this has put military personnel of the world’s superpowers and of other nations on high alert this is with the aim of launching global war on terrorism (GWOT) when called upon. The purpose of operational military psychology is to come up with procedures that will help support and sustain the military personnel both in the field and at their base station in order for them to come up with viable ideas that can be implemented (Williams, Picano et al, 193). In addition to that another function of this psychology is to help a soldier attain knowledge about the enemy’s capability, personalities and intentions; this will help the military be in a good position to come up with strategies to counter this. In conclusion, this type psychology empowers the military personnel to overcome unrealistic fears and also achieve the unachievable.

The study of military psychology has played a major role in many governments by enabling them provide the required resources to their soldiers to make it possible for them be able to carry on well with the assignments given to them. This has been more helpful to those soldiers who are stationed in war raved regions.

Importance of Modern Military Psychology

As indicated in the paper, in the recent past there has been an increase in terrorist activities and conflict among different nations. Operating in such environment has been a daunting task for many military personnel and it is for this reason that the importance of military psychology is greatly appreciated. Before we look at the importance of modern military psychology, it is important to understand some of the challenges that these personnel face on a day to day basis.

According to De Coning, some of the challenges that they (military personnel) face are; environmental conditions, such as tough terrain and unfavorable weather conditions, danger from adversaries, loss of fellow staff in the line of duty, the cries from innocent civilians, cultural differences among others (De Coning 3 – 7). Being exposed to such situations may leave most of the soldiers traumatized and it for this reason that psychology comes in handy.

Stress: For the military personnel, they are faced with two different types of stress and as a result they need to be counseled for them to overcome the situation.

Family and Friends Trauma: The first situation is where the soldier is separated from friends and family members for a long time when he/she is deployed in the field. Such situation may make the soldier develop some weird behaviors like boredom, withdrawal, anger and in some cases they might go into depression. It is for this reason that the soldiers should be counseled before they are deployed in the field and before they return back home. The reason for this is to help them be able to cope with the “absence” of the loved ones and also prepare them to rejoin the community.

Extreme Environments: Another form of stress will comes as a result of change of environment. For example a US marine can be deployed to the jungles of Africa and this change of environment to a new geographical location that has different weather conditions culture may affect the soldiers in a big way. It is for this reason that most of them are taken through operational military psychology test to determine if they will be able to survive with persons from different cultural back grounds and lifestyle. In this kind of situation also, the soldiers are tested as time progresses from the first month when they are deployed in the field until the time they are set to return home, the purpose of this is to establish whether the soldiers are coping well with the change and in the last stage before they return home, the test will be to determine if they (soldiers) are of sound mind to be integrated back to the society.

Future of Modern Military Psychology

Life is dynamic and the study of human psychology as a branch of human science is also a dynamic and evolving process. In the 18th century, psychologists used “mental tests” which involved one on one asking of questions to military personnel to determine the alertness of the soldiers, with time however this ancient method was phased off and replaced with the use of the Wechser Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), which has been in operation. According to Estrada the future of military technology is set to improve because of the rapid changes taking place in the technology world.  Other factors that will contribute to the continuous change of military psychology are the transformation of the military organizations and mode of operations; for instance in the modern world, when two or three nations are faced with a similar situation prefer to work in coalition in order to effectively tackle the situation unlike in the previous years when each nations preferred to do things individually (Estrada, 2005b).  It is by improving the psychological status of the military fraternity and the personnel that the armed forces will be in a better position to carry out their duties as required by the law of different nations.

Summation of the Paper

Security of any nation is one of the determinant factors to the growth and success of a nation. It is therefore important for the governments of all democratic nations around the world to ensure that the military personnel are well taken care of both in terms of resources and good health. The purpose of this paper was to look at modern military psychology. The paper has however started off by giving a brief introduction to the topic and discussion of the ancient day psychology; “mental test”. It has also mentioned the key areas that are studies when it comes to modern military study. Unlike the ancient days when “mental tests” were conducted using a question – answer approach, the modern day psychology (both for civilians and military is computerized), this is one area that has been covered extensively in the paper. The different categories of modern military psychology have been discussed in the paper and their importance to the military fraternity. Just like any other profession that faces different challenges on a daily basis, the military personnel also experience challenges some of which are tougher as compared to challenges faced by people in other professions. These challenges have been discussed and the effects that they have on the military officers. The various importance’s of psychology to the military department has have been discussed in the paper. In conclusion the paper has looked at the future of modern military psychology and more specific attention has been paid on the impact of the internet growth and transformations taking place in the military. It is therefore important for all democratic nations that have embraced modern military technology to help other nations especially in third world and developing nations in Africa and South America to implement such projects in their nations. For the nations that are experiencing internal armed conflict, the governments of the respective nations should improve the psychological status of its military personnel and by so doing, they will be better positioned to combat this menace that is affecting economic growth and prosperity. 

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