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Old 11-06-2005, 08:20 AM   #1
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Iraq battle stress worse than WWII

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...859664,00.html

Iraq battle stress worse than WWII
MICHAEL SMITH



SENIOR army doctors have warned that troops in Iraq are suffering levels of battle stress not experienced since the second world war because of fears that if they shoot an insurgent, they will end up in court.



The two senior Royal Army Medical Corps officers, one of whom is a psychologist, have recently returned from Basra, where they said they counselled young soldiers who feared a military police investigation as much as they did the insurgents.

The revelations follow the collapse last week of the court martial of seven paratroopers accused of murdering an Iraqi who died near al- Amarah just after the war and amid signs of a dramatic drop in morale among frontline infantry soldiers.

The doctors’ warnings came in post-operational reports submitted by senior officers to their formation commanders after serving in a battle zone. They are exceptional because of their content.

One source said: “There doesn’t appear to be any overt consideration or understanding of the pressures that our soldiers are under.

“The unpopularity of the war at home and a belief that firing their rifles in virtually any circumstances is likely to see them end up in court are sapping morale.”

One corporal said that troops arriving in Basra were confronted by warnings from the Royal Military Police. “They make it clear that any and every incident will be investigated. It is also made clear that if you shoot someone, you will face an inquiry that could take up to a year.

“The faces of the young lads straight out of training drop as the fear of being investigated strikes home and many ask whose side the RMP are on.”

Although the levels of fighting in Iraq are nowhere near those of some of the bloodiest battles of the second world war, such as the battle of the bulge or Kohima, the much more complex situation that the British troops face is pushing up stress levels just as far.

The combination of knowing that death might come at any time from a roadside bomb and that shooting back at Iraqis who attack them might result in their being court-martialled is putting immense pressure on young soldiers.
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Old 11-06-2005, 09:03 AM   #2
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Unfortunately, there really is no acceptable alternative. When the enemy is hidden and dispersed throughout territory populated by innocent civilians, you cannot fight the same way you would on a battlefield.

I find it strange that the article doesn't even mention the stress of having no idea when or where the next bomb might go off. That too is a big difference from a scenario like the Battle of the Bulge.
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Old 11-06-2005, 09:06 AM   #3
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It is in there, click on the link...I did not post the whole article.
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Old 11-06-2005, 09:37 AM   #4
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Oops.
Quote:
Divorce rates have soared. The wives of soldiers who return from Iraq complain that their husbands are suffering from exhaustion and stress but refuse to seek medical help for fear that it will blight their promotion prospects.

The wife of one officer based in Germany told friends he was “an aggressive wreck” after returning from Iraq, shouting at the children and suffering from what she thought was a nervous disorder. He declined medical help and a month after returning from Basra was sent to Kabul.
That sounds all too familiar, doesn't it? One wonders how his performance at Kabul might suffer too, and to whose detriment.
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Old 11-06-2005, 03:20 PM   #5
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So, the knowledge that if they kill an innocent person they will face investigation is causing undue stress to soldiers. What's the alternative? Give them free rein to shoot any Iraqi man woman or child safe in the knowledge that no action will be taken against them by the British military?

I don't doubt that being in Iraq is having a horrendous effect on many soldiers, but firstly I don't think that's primarily due to fear of being investigated for killing innocent people and secondly, I don't believe that letting soldiers shoot people in the knowledge that there will be no consequences if they shoot an innocent person is the solution.
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Old 11-06-2005, 03:22 PM   #6
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Do you believe that soldier's intenitonally target civilians?
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Old 11-06-2005, 03:27 PM   #7
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I would hope that in this case it isn't intentional. However, I do know that there have been numerous incidents of civilians being killed because soldiers failed to take adequate precautions against killing innocent people. Sadly I think to an extent it's inevitable that when a country is under occupation its people will suffer and one manifestation of that suffering is the killing of innocent people by the occupying military. Whether intentional or otherwise, in my opinion any measures which make it more likely that a soldier will kill an innocent person are to be opposed.
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Old 11-06-2005, 03:35 PM   #8
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In my opinion, tthe decision of to fire or not is incredibly stressful.

I chose wrong once...(Not while in the army, civilian job). I should have fired first and asked questions later...instead I was lucky to be alive. It convinced me to no longer be a Cop, because I wanted a family, and did not make me comfortable for future decisions.



I understand their stress, and I believe it is real. Is the time I decide not to shoot going to cost me my life? Is it going to cause a colleague theirs.

I think it wrong to paint it the way it has been in here.
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Old 11-06-2005, 03:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
In my opinion, tthe decision of to fire or not is incredibly stressful.

[...]

I understand their stress, and I believe it is real.

[...]

I think it wrong to paint it the way it has been in here.
As I already stated, I don't doubt that being a soldier is stressful, particularly in contemporary Iraq. However, I also believe that in addition to concern for the welfare of soldiers in Iraq, we need to consider the welfare of the Iraqi people and weakening measures designed to prevent soldiers killing innocent people will be detrimental to that. Not to mention the fact that given the many other reasons for soldiers suffering stress in Iraq, it seems wrong to imply that the main reason for soldiers stress is a fear of the consequences of shooting a civilian.
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Old 11-06-2005, 04:07 PM   #10
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Thank you for restating what you already said. Apparently, my having been in the shoes of a soldier....and having made similar decisions account for nothing.

Having been in the shoes of the soldier, and made the wrong choice, and I could have been killed....I would rather the soldier make a mistake in his/her favor.

I believe the protections in place are enough, and I would rather have them error protecting themselves and those serving with them.

Maybe terrorists will put on uniforms so these things do not happen...

-------------------

By the way any word on the two locked threads. I notice there is a solicitation in red on top of the forum for Katrina relief.

Just wondering...it has been almost 8 hours.
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Old 11-06-2005, 04:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
Thank you for restating what you already said. Apparently, my having been in the shoes of a soldier....and having made similar decisions account for nothing.

Having been in the shoes of the soldier, and made the wrong choice, and I could have been killed....I would rather the soldier make a mistake in his/her favor.

I believe the protections in place are enough, and I would rather have them error protecting themselves and those serving with them.
I'm sure your own experiences inform your view on this matter and I respect that. However, my opinion, informed by different experiences and information is somewhat different.

Personally I can't justify removing measures designed to protect innocent people from being killed by the military currently occupying their country. Clearly your view is that if a choice has to be made it is more important to protect the occupying forces than those living under occupation. On that subject we simply have different opinions and I can't imagine that any amount of debate is likely to resolve them.
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Old 11-06-2005, 04:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
By the way any word on the two locked threads. I notice there is a solicitation in red on top of the forum for Katrina relief.

Just wondering...it has been almost 8 hours.
I'm waiting for Elvis to clarify the site's position on this subject. As soon as he's had time to reply the threads will be re-opened and an explanation will be posted. Please be patient, it is the weekend after all and I know that Elvis is a busy person so it may take him a little while to respond.

Thanks,
*Fizz.
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Old 11-06-2005, 04:21 PM   #13
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And my position recognizes that the INSERGENTS, TERRORISTS, FREEDOM FIGHTERS....

Do not wear uniforms. If a soldier is under stress of should I shouldn't I, there are many other lives at risk besides the soldier's life.

Could be innocents on the street. Could be civilians...could be the new police officers showing up to train.
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Old 11-06-2005, 04:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees


I'm waiting for Elvis to clarify the site's position on this subject. As soon as he's had time to reply the threads will be re-opened and an explanation will be posted. Please be patient, it is the weekend after all and I know that Elvis is a busy person so it may take him a little while to respond.

Thanks,
*Fizz.
He needs to get a life like us
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Old 11-06-2005, 06:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
And my position recognizes that the INSERGENTS, TERRORISTS, FREEDOM FIGHTERS....

Do not wear uniforms.
True, but that doesn't change the fact that the armies currently occupying Iraq should not kill innocent civilians. It is for this reason that I think it would be inappropriate for any precautions against the killing of innocent civilians to be weakened because they are allegedly causing stress to the occupying soldiers. Does anyone really believe that if soldiers were encouraged to shoot civilians with no consequences at all, they would no longer experience stress? Of course not - there are many more reasons for soldiers involved in the occupation to experience stress and their feelings of stress are not sufficient reason to relax regulations designed to prevent the killing of civilians.
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