In a science-fiction setting, with warfare loosely inspired by the second world war, there exists Foo. Foo are a species that are very similar to humans, but they biologically stop aging between their late 20s and early 30s (but continue to have lifespans similar to humans, as described in this question).

Due to cultural norms and Foo's species loyalty, retirement is a very uncommon phenomenon. Further Foo's mental biology has natural means of repairing itself over time to a mentally conceptually ideal state, allowing the brain to recover from some mental disorders including posttraumatic stress disorder.

These traits, collectively, allow a Foo to be a career soldier, serving from 18 until death as an active combatant.*

*As a minor note, for Americans serving in the armed forces, military death only increases likelihood by 2.5x as compared to a normal citizen (Preston and Buzzel, 2007), so combatant turnover isn't as steep as one might expect.

Given the realization that the military expects to get multiple decades of service out of a given individual after training, how would this affect training on terms of length and specialization? How would the training differ from our military training of humans, here on Earth?

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    $\begingroup$ To those downvoting: Could you please leave a comment as to how you would improve this question? $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Aug 29 '16 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ "a mentally conceptually ideal state" - would you care to elaborate? Ideal by what standards? Do you mean that they live their adult lives as aggressive, pack-oriented 18-year-olds? Or they quickly reach mental middle age? If the latter, they won't make very good troopers - the sort of aggression bordering on stupidity so useful in privates tends to evaporate with age. Career NCOs simply don't behave much like new recruits. $\endgroup$ Aug 29 '16 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ @WhatRoughBeast Basically the brain tries to reform neural pathways/destroy pathways to attack any major (and only major) formations that the brain sees as significantly 'off.' It's not a perfect system, and it certainly doesn't iron out everything (or do so quickly) but it does mean with time Foos can recover from certain disorders at a much higher rate than humans can. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Aug 30 '16 at 1:58
  • $\begingroup$ You have warfare inspired by WWII, but list the death rate of modern America...if this is WWII-esque, then the death rates are far far greater than that (magnitudes higher). A big question to address...what is the need for soldiers? Does a nation in this setting have 8 to 10 years to invest in training, or is their a more pressing matter of an enemy at the door? Hard to construct a realistic answer without further details. $\endgroup$
    – Twelfth
    Aug 30 '16 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Twelfth Two points: WWII saw a little over a 6% casualty rate for Americans serving in the armed forces. If this race was actively engaged in a war proportionate to WWII, yes, they would see similar ~1/20 - 1/10 casualty rates over ~4 year periods. However in this setting a conflict of that magnitude is nowhere close to consistent, year after year. They might see such a war once a lifetime. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Aug 30 '16 at 17:31

The question of how long a term of enlistment would be for this species is interesting, but I don't think current practices among human societies are a very good guide.

If the Foo remain in a fairly constant state of health and fitness for 50+ years, there is scope for some very highly trained soldiers. But the psychology of the species becomes important.

If they get bored as easily as humans, then switching them to a new branch of service every five or eight years would be a good idea. That means the average trooper has learned three or four different specialities, and is very versatile.

Given that other questions about this army suggest they probably don't get bored very easily, there's scope for them to become very highly trained and experienced in a single speciality. Having more experience definitely helps in war, but has its limits, given the randomness of combat. A historical example is the WWII German Panzer Lehr Division, which was formed from instructors, and was notably effective. When you can form 60% of your units from troops with twenty years or more of experience, it's going to help.

If the army can keep most of its troops in a single branch for fifty years, then initial training might be not very different from that among humans, with instructors who have 10-20 years of service, and newly trained troops sent to units with a mixture of troops with service up to twenty years. After ten years in that unit, fighting and/or training, with instructors from within the unit, there's an initial selection process for more experienced units, or to be instructors for new recruits. The selection would repeat every few years, and you might discharge some troops after twenty years if they seemed incapable of learning the higher standards needed for experienced units.

Experienced units have troops with 10-40 years of service, and train to higher standards. After you've been in this unit for 15 years (so 25 years of total service), you become eligible for the selection process for the truly elite units, where you can stay until you retire.

Special units will have their own criteria for selection; some might only recruit from the elite, while others might grab anyone who comes along with a particular talent.

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    $\begingroup$ If they stay in the service for 70 years, then surely there will be some sort of promotion catastrophe/bottleneck? Either you'll have a huge bunch of guys who've been there 20 years and all have the experience to be a staff sergeant but there are no openings. Or you'll have an 'all Chiefs and no Indians' effect. Also it'll affect military pensions. The Foos can do 40 years, retire on full pension AND still be fit enough to start a second career as an acrobat. Humans will be getting squeezed out to keep these guys in. $\endgroup$
    – DrBob
    Aug 30 '16 at 10:33
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think Foo and humans serve in the same army, never mind the same units. Foo society has to have some way of coping with their long active lifespans, but the OP has not told us about it. Within the structure I outlined, they might well fall back a few ranks when moving up to a higher class of unit. $\endgroup$ Aug 30 '16 at 14:36

Reduction of Training Requirements

Most servicemen in the US military serve for only their initial commitment. If I were to guess based on experience, the modal and median service length would be 4 years (average of 6, lets say). If the median service length in your new species is 70 years, then the most important difference is how few people are getting trained.

If you have a million man army, with average service length of 6 years, then you have to train 167,000 new recruits every year. Lets say boot camp and indoctrination training average 20 weeks: you have 64,000 trainees in introductory training at any given time.

If you have a million man army, with average service length of 70 years, then you have to train 14,000 new recruits every year. If you were to spend the same resources (i.e. 64,000 recruits at a time), you could afford to give them 237 weeks of intro training each, or alternately if you want to give them the same 20 weeks of training, you are only training about 5000 at any given time.

So because your rate of soldier intake is so much slower, you can either give your soldiers one either 11 times as much training time, or a 11 times better instructor to student ratio (11 times as many drill instructors! I just wet my pants...)

I actually opine that training in this case, including boot camp, is useless. If the average career is 70 years, then each unit of 70 people will only need 1 recruit a year to keep up its numbers. At that rate of replacement, you might as well just send that boot straight to the unit and make him learn his craft from the cagey 120 year veterans that are already there.

Old People with New Stuff

One more thing, 70 years is a long time. Is this work advancing technologically? Imagine your grandpa, fresh off of World War II deciding to stay in for life. He's just hitting his 70 years of service these days. His job is to operate modern equipment, electronics, GPS, computer....say how good is your grandpa at using computers anyways...

Unfortunately, modern servicemen have far more skills than just carrying a rifle, so unless their minds stay in their 20s for their whole life, that is going to be a problem. And if their minds stay in their twenties, they should seriously consider being a scientist.


First, point of clarification. Initial military enlistments are only for 8 years, part active, part inactive, regardless of the training an individual receives. At least, it is that way for the US. The active portion may be adjusted if the training period is longer than the average.

Following that model, training standards wouldn't change much at all. Even if you deviate from that model, training regimens still won't change much. There is only so much you can learn without practicing it in a real scenario. Additionally, battlefield casualites would play into the training regimen. There would be no reason whatsoever to meaningfully lengthen the training time.

Assuming the Foo are as individual as humans and have likes and dislike similar, the expectation still isn't a guarantee. While PTSD might be overcome quicker by a Foo, the damage is still done for the present, until it is overcome. And a lot can happen in that time with regards to an individuals desires.


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