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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"So you have to be mentally and physically tough." - Lt. Gen. Odierno

After being directly warned in the recent major MHAT-IV (Mental Health Advisory Report) that US soldiers face serious PTSD and combat stress issues with the current deployments and combat schedules,
U.S. commanders in Iraq are rejecting a recommendation by Army mental health experts that troops receive a one-month break for every three months in a combat zone, despite unprecedented levels of continuous fighting and worsening risks of mental stress.

Instead, commanders are trying to give troops two to three days inside heavily fortified bases after about eight days in the field, said Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson, chief aide to the ground forces commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno.

"We would never get the job done of securing (of Baghdad) if we went out for three months and came back" for one, Anderson said.....

"Even in World War II and other times … we would pull forces off the line and bring them back on. Here we don't do that," Odierno said. "They (U.S. troops) are out there consistently every single day. So you have to be mentally and physically tough."

Because, you see, those who get PTSD just aren't "mentally and physically tough."

To say I'm filled with rage is an understatement.

Especially after reading this on Saturday,
U.S. troops returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer "daunting and growing" psychological problems -- with nearly 40 percent of soldiers, a third of Marines and half of the National Guard members reporting symptoms -- but the military's cadre of mental-health workers is "woefully inadequate" to meet their needs, a Pentagon task force reported yesterday.

(The WaPo series focusing on Walter Reed and broader soldier care has been covering mental health issues this week (1, 2.)


  • I'm seeing more and more of the 'we have to be as tough and ruthless as they are' kind of talk. No coincidence I think.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:09 AM  

  • No, not at all.

    It also serves to frame anyone who opposes as not tough.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 11:39 AM  

  • "Tough and ruthless" is a reason to hate us, not work with us. While it may be some sort or fetish thrill to some of the war-lovers, it's not a recipe for, oh I don't know... actually achieving peace and stability.

    It's hard to find peace when your mission is war.

    By Blogger -epm, at 2:18 PM  

  • But I think the thing to note is that Odierno is not saying that we should be tough on our enemies, but that our soldiers need to be tough, or toughen up to the demands he's placing on them.

    In other words, those who can't take it (read PTSD) just aren't tough enough.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 3:31 PM  

  • Yes. I got that, but then kinda got off track. The thing is, as Americans, do we really want our military to be desensitized, unthinking, unfeeling killers? Really?

    I think some people do. Honestly, there is a vein thought, philosophy and unnatural, egocentric self assuredness that has given me insight to how the Third Reich rose to dominance. I'm not being hyperbolic. I'm talking about the consolidation of power and destruction of dissent, not "final solutions" and genocide. (Though from the statements from some politicians I do get the feeling that Muslims are viewed as less valuable in the family of man)

    By Blogger -epm, at 6:42 PM  

  • I meant to write:

    "... there is a vein of thought -- an unnatural, egocentric self assuredness -- among these war-lovers..."

    By Blogger -epm, at 7:05 PM  

  • It's a worship of power and the embodiment of the superman. It has resonance within a certain section.

    Again, many people seek their sense of power and self worth externally.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 9:12 PM  

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