FORT CAMPBELL, KY - First Sergeants throughout the Army and Marine Corps are celebrating the release of a study today that shows a direct and positive impact on combat performance that correlates with random, pointless formations.
Thomas Burns, lead researcher for military think-tank Xegis Solutions, conducted a study with the 43rd Engineering Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
"We studied three companies in the battalion. One company had twenty formations a day, the other had ten, and the last one had zero. These weren't necessary formations -- the First Sergeant would simply say to the Platoon Sergeants, 'Get everybody together, I've got information to put out'."
He continued, "the inevitable calls of "Foooooorrrrmmmmaaation!!!!! Out front in the parking lot!" would soon echo throughout the unit. Once the troops were assembled, the First Sergeant would usually let them stand there for fifteen to thirty minutes before finally dismissing the company to return to scheduled work."
"We continued this study for three months before the battalion deployed to Afghanistan and followed them through their tour in-country," said Burns. "They were tasked with route clearance -- a particularly dangerous job."
Burns said that the results were astonishing.
"A direct correlation between the number of random, pointless formations the units had been conducting per day and how many IED strikes, casualties, and enemies killed was found. Basically, the more the better. Formations saved lives and helped these troops to kill more Taliban."
The company that held the most pointless formations, Burns says, was also the one credited with the most finds of weapons caches, disruption of insurgent activity, and highest performance in combat engagements.
"And the company with no formations whatsoever," said Burns tearfully, "they were pretty much combat ineffective. I believe that if they had also not worn their reflective belts on patrol, they might have all been done for."
Morale also appeared to skyrocket any time troops were told to be fifteen minutes early to every formation. Private Ethan Trest told the Duffel Blog how this personally saved his life.
"I just got to the unit prior to deployment. I was considering suicide, mostly because my Drill Sergeants had been really scary and mean to me at Fort Leonard Wood. Right when I was about to swallow a fistful of 800mg Ibuprofen, I got a phone call from my team leader."
Obviously shaken, Private Trest trembled through the next sentence. "He saved my life. Something about hearing that the morning formation is at 0700, but the Platoon Sergeant expects us there at 0645, and he expected me there at 0630, just made me realize that it wasn't worth it."