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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wow.

The 101st Airborne's senior commander in effect ordered his soldiers Wednesday not to commit suicide, a plea that came after 11 suicides since January 1, two of them in the past week.

"If you don't remember anything else I say in the next five or 10 minutes, remember this -- suicidal behavior in the 101st on Fort Campbell is bad," Brig. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend told his forces. "It's bad for soldiers, it's bad for families, bad for your units, bad for this division and our army and our country and it's got to stop now. Suicides on Fort Campbell have to stop now."
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8 Comments:

  • Nothin' like piling on a little guilt-trip pressure to sooth the troubled soul of a suicidal soldier...

    Oy!

    By Blogger -epm, at 1:24 PM  

  • There were so many f**ed up levels where this resonated that I couldn't choose one to frame it in, so I just posted it blank, to let it hit each person how it did.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 2:24 PM  

  • Yeah. My first reaction was "WTF!?" It's like something from Dr. Strangelove.

    By Blogger -epm, at 2:26 PM  

  • WOW, is right. Simply sad, all the way around.

    The fact that an American commander had to say that to an American fighting force, is an alarm that should be on the front page of every paper, blog, and telecast.

    This is a cry (fact) to show that we should reconsider how we fight our enemies, how we deploy our fighting force, what we ask our fighting force to do, and who makes up that fighting force.

    An all volunteer force, does not automatically ensure healthy human motivation to be able to do the job necessary.

    By Blogger Time, at 3:13 PM  

  • A not very subtle reminder to soldiers that their lives are not their own.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:18 PM  

  • You are not going to believe this but I served with (then) COL Townsend in Afghanistan in 2004 as a deployed reservist. I actually shared an office with him in Bagram for one month. He had spent the previous year out in the field with the 10th Mountain Division.

    He happens to be an extraordinary leader (intelligent, modest, softspoken and wise)that cares deeply about his soldiers. He's doing his level best to halt what appears to be a rash of suicides in his unit (I suspect he is the assistant division commnader of the 101st - Screaming Eagles - prepping for another deployment).I am sure he is assembling the mental health professionals as well.

    He is one of those unusual guys who has a star on his Combat Infantryman's Badge. If you know what that means there is nothing more to say about him. If you don't then I can't explain.

    Heaven help him in solving this issue in the 101st. I know how he agonized over each casualty in Afghanistan (friend and foe alike).

    By Blogger Long Island Educator, at 3:45 PM  

  • Time, agreed. I think it's also a statement of desperation that he's hoping that this might make some kinda difference.

    The article says they've had a suicide a week since January.

    ...

    Anon, I'm not so sure that's it. I think he's trying to hit their sense of duty to the Army and their fellows.

    ...

    Long Island, I agree. I see this as a bit of a desperate step to stop this going on. I don't see it as the crazy general expecting a crazy order to be followed.

    I see this as a man trying to tap into soldiers' sense of duty and obligation to keep them here on this earth.

    Also, Like I said in my first comment, this story touches so many different buttons that I think it's prone to Rorschaching.

    I left the context blank because I couldn't really get a way to catch the larger frame.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 4:22 PM  

  • I appreciate the insight into the general, but taking the comments purely at face value it just can't see this as being helpful in arresting the suicide rate. He should be lecturing UP the chain of command, not down. Maybe he is. I have no idea.

    (I admit I'm too quick to be cynical.)

    By Blogger -epm, at 7:46 PM  

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