I think unequivocal judgments around such issues as are being discussed in this thread are slightly dangerous and a privilige which is afforded to us because of our personal circumstances. Sitting with computers,books and time on our hands in the comfort of our homes I suspect we can all hypothesise about whether a unit would be well disciplined or wild, well led or out of control but what do these things really mean? This is an almost self indulgent intellectual exercise which does not reference into the most important factor of all.. the actual physical emotions felt by the individual or 'herd/mob/pack' at the time. I would also be prepared to wager that most of us have never been in a battle, been stabbed or shot at, watched our friends cut down, disembowelled or maimed in front of us and so it is impossible to say specifically how one would react under these circumstances. With adrenalin levels hitting the ceiling, accelarated heart rates, fear, animal and human smells of death, blood and filth all around and the screaming of wounded, terrified and hysterical humans everywhere conclusions based on order, discipline and leadership are flakey at best and are almost totally without context.
I think there is a lot of wisdom in old sayings such as "seeing red", "the red mist", "blood frenzy", "heat of battle" etc etc. These cliches are borne out of observation and experience. Discipline is a cold word which has very little meaning in certain military contexts. The SS were disciplined but they have a reputation for combat ferocity that is almost unparalled and were guilty of some of the most unspeakable excesses ever documented including the almost contradictory: 'systematic brutality'. The Mongols were disciplined but by all accounts terrifying and consciously used terror as an instrument of policy. The Roman Legions were disciplined but have left a chilling legacy for merciless brutality against their vanquished foes. Their military machine was not the remote ,button pushing, robotic, laser guided, infra red, proxy combat of today(which still produces out of control humans) but an up close muscle and sinew driven blood and sweat butcher shop horror.
We see stories every day on the news of so called highly trained 'professionals' from our own armies being involved in out of control 'incidents' which run totally contra to the normal morals of our own societies.. the very societies which train, fund and deploy these professionals and from whose numbers the men are themselves drawn. Effectively, they are us. How are these behavioural abberations possible with such expensive and extensive training as is lavished on our modern warriors? What conclusions should we draw from this? The bit that is missing from all of these kinds of discussion which appear regularly on the net is an absence of any real referencing into the most critical element.. human beings and how they behave under stress.
I am not judging the behaviour or moralising, I am simply drawing a parallel that we CAN reference into which is in our time. I conclude that ANY human being is capable of ANY behaviour given the right (or wrong) set of circumstances.
I noticed in Daniel's thread the adjective 'ferocious' in the relation to the Finns. Not an adjective I would tend to associate with discipline in the context of combat and one I think worthy of more than a glance. On that basis alone I would challenge the word disciplined.
I very much respect your opinions Dan and also your contributions to the forum. You are a very learned man and should rightly be considered a true expert in the field of military history but I often feel that the pre eminent critical element is excluded from discussions such as the one we are having which tend then to be reduced to a series of rather cold facts and statistics, source listing and documented reference points.
I personally think, after writing this post that EVERY unit of EVERY nationality in EVERY conflict has be exposed to the chance(however slim) of going out of control in the heat of battle. How this transfers onto the table top (and whether it should on grounds of good taste alone! ) is another matter.
"If you think you can, or if you think you can't, you are probably right"