Archive for the ‘combat’ Category

British troops back from Afghanistan are 10 times more likely to suffer mental illness, say MOD

November 5, 2008

British troops returning from combat in Afghanistan are 10 times more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than colleagues who stay at home.

Last year almost 4,000 military personnel were diagnosed with mental health problems including hundreds suffering from depression, mood swings, alcoholism or ‘adjustment disorders’ after serving in war zones.

By Matthew Hickley
The Mail (UK)

This is because mentally-scarred troops often suffer in silence for many years before seeking help.

Mental health statistics released by the Ministry of Defence showed 3,917 serving armed forces were assessed as having mental disorders in  2007.

While most conditions showed no significantly heightened risk for those returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, PTSD was a dramatic exception.

Officials said that while numbers of new PTSD cases were modest there was a ‘marked increase’ in the risk for those recently deployed on combat operations, accounting for 38 out of 43 of the cases recorded in the last three months of the year.

Overall those who have served in Afghanistan were more than nine times more likely to develop the crippling condition than their colleagues who have not served abroad, while for Iraq the figure was almost seven times.

While defence officials insisted the number of PTSD cases was ‘fairly low’ – with 180 servicemen and women diagnosed last year – veterans’s charities warned that the figures could be only the tip of the iceberg.

Read the rest:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1082991/British-troops-Afghanistan-10-times-likely-suffer-mental-illness-say-MOD.html?ITO=1490

soldiers

Figures showed 3,917 new cases of armed services personnel assessed to have a mental disorder

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For U.S. Marines: Motorcycles Deadlier Than Iraq

November 1, 2008

More Marines have died on motorcycles than in Iraq so far this year. Just under 10 percent of Marines own high-speed sport bikes, and no one knows why the corps is so plagued by serious accidents. The military brass is so concerned that officials have scheduled a meeting to address the issue.

From Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Producer

Twenty-five Marines have died in motorcycle crashes since last November — all but one of them involving sport bikes that can reach speeds of well over 100 mph, according to Marine officials. In that same period, 20 Marines have been killed in action in Iraq.
The 25 deaths are the highest motorcycle death toll ever for the Marine Corps.
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Gen. James Amos, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told CNN that commanders are trying to drill down on what “we need to do to help our Marines survive on these sport bikes.”
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“The Marines are very serious about it,” he said.
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Marine Gunnery Sgt. Art Tucker knows all too well about the dangers of sport bikes. An owner of a Kawasaki Ninja, Tucker has had two crashes, and the second one nearly killed him.

Despite crashes, Gunnery Sgt. Art Tucker rides a sport motorcycle. "I enjoy it. ... It relaxes me," he says.

Above: Despite crashes, Gunnery Sgt. Art Tucker rides a sport motorcycle. “I enjoy it. … It relaxes me,” he says.
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“I sustained a broken collar bone, I tore the shoulder out of the socket, I tore three ligaments in the shoulder, the rotator cuff, I broke three vertebrae,” said Tucker, a drill instructor for new officers.
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“The worst was a head injury I received: a bruised brain. And it caused hemorrhaging, and from that I had partial paralysis of the left leg, full paralysis of the left foot and toes, and that was for approximately six months.”
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Amos said he and other top Marine officials will spend half the day Monday “focusing on nothing but motorcycle issues.” The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway, and other senior leadership will attend the meeting at the Quantico, Virginia, Marine base, he said.
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About 18,000 of the nearly 200,000 Marines are believed to own motorcycles, Amos said.
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The Marines have taken some measures. The Marine Corps has had a long-standing policy for all Marines who ride motorcycles to take a mandatory basic riding course. More recently, it added a second training course specifically designed to train Marines who ride sport bikes.
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Any Marine caught riding, even on leave, without going through the training courses faces Marine Corps punishment, officials say.
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On a recent day at the Quantico training track, Marines whizzed by on their bikes.

US soldiers in Iraq can find stress deadlier than enemy

October 15, 2008

By Emmanuel Duparcq

BAGHDAD (AFP) – In the early hours of September 14, US sergeant Joseph Bozicevich allegedly drew his rifle, aimed and shot to death two of his superiors on a military base south of the Iraqi capital.

US marine smoking a cigarette at a military camp in Fallujah, ...
US marine smoking a cigarette at a military camp in Fallujah, 50 kms west of Baghdad. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased the number of US soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder leading to higher rates of suicides and divorce, according to recent military reports.(AFP/File/Roslan Rahman)

According to several US media reports, Bozicevich, 39, allegedly killed staff sergeant Darris Dawson 24, and sergeant Wesley Durbin 26, because he could not bear being berated by them.

A US military statement said that “a US soldier is in custody in connection with the shooting deaths. He’s being held in custody pending review by a military magistrate.”

Dawson’s step-mother Maxine Mathis later told newspaper in Pensacola in Florida that before the shooting he had complained to her and spoken of the impact the Iraq war was having on many young soldiers.

“Momma, I’m not so afraid of the enemy. I’m afraid of our young guys over there, because they’re so jumpy and quick to shoot,” Mathis quoted Dawson as saying.

Trauma, stress, fatigue, depression and tensions linked to family problems are taking their toll on US soldiers deployed in Iraq and are often more threatening than the Islamist insurgents they are expected to fight.

“We know that the stress of war, which includes repeated and long deployments, is having an effect on our soldiers and their families,” said Colonel Elspeth Cameron-Ritchie, a military psychiatrist based at US army medical command in Fort Detrick, located at Frederick, Maryland.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased the number of US soldiers suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), leading to higher rates of suicides and divorce, according to military reports.

Nearly a fifth of American soldiers deployed in Iraq suffer PTSD, according to the US military’s battlemind.army.mil website.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/200810
15/wl_mideast_afp/iraqunrestus;_
ylt=Am3KI8FI45WzV_T0HQoXlIWs0NUE

Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Plan to End Iraq War

March 30, 2008

By Zbigniew Brzezinski
The Washington Post
Sunday, March 30, 2008; Page B03

Both Democratic presidential candidates agree that the United States should end its combat mission in Iraq within 12 to 16 months of their possible inauguration. The Republican candidate has spoken of continuing the war, even for a hundred years, until “victory.” The core issue of this campaign is thus a basic disagreement over the merits of the war and the benefits and costs of continuing it.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski

The case for U.S. disengagement from combat is compelling in its own right. But it must be matched by a comprehensive political and diplomatic effort to mitigate the destabilizing regional consequences of a war that the outgoing Bush administration started deliberately, justified demagogically and waged badly. (I write, of course, as a Democrat; while I prefer Sen. Barack Obama, I speak here for myself.)

The contrast between the Democratic argument for ending the war and the Republican argument for continuing is sharp and dramatic. The case for terminating the war is based on its prohibitive and tangible costs, while the case for “staying the course” draws heavily on shadowy fears of the unknown and relies on worst-case scenarios. President Bush‘s and Sen. John McCain’s forecasts of regional catastrophe are quite reminiscent of the predictions of “falling dominoes” that were used to justify continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Neither has provided any real evidence that ending the war would mean disaster, but their fear-mongering makes prolonging it easier.

Nonetheless, if the American people had been asked more than five years ago whether Bush’s obsession with the removal of Saddam Hussein was worth 4,000 American lives, almost 30,000 wounded Americans and several trillion dollars — not to mention the less precisely measurable damage to the United States’ world-wide credibility, legitimacy and moral standing — the answer almost certainly would have been an unequivocal “no.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/27/AR2008032702405.html?hpid=opinionsbox1 

Hard-Won Progress In Baghdad

March 15, 2008

By Anthony Diaz 

The Washington Post
Saturday, March 15, 2008; Page A13

BAGHDAD — Since I arrived here last August, I have been struck by four things: the financial commitment we have made to reconstruction; the precipitous decline in violence; the inklings of representative government; and the small yet significant progress in communal relations between the mostly Shiite Iraqi army and the predominantly Sunni residents of this area. One often reads of the chaos plaguing Iraq. Yet the media accounts only infrequently seem to grasp the successes being achieved.
A U.S. Army flight medic Spc. Stacey Dill, 31, from Middletown, ... 
A U.S. Army flight medic Spc. Stacey Dill, 31, from Middletown, Calif., reaches up to clean equipment on her medevac team’s Black Hawk helicopter on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, March 15, 2008.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

My combat outpost sits along the Tigris River in a section of Baghdad known as Adhamiyah. It is enclosed by a wall that separates it from the predominantly Shiite eastern section of the city, similar to the wall that separates Catholics and Protestants in Belfast. Though a few Shiites remain within the enclosure, most have moved out, leaving a Sunni enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods.

American taxpayers well know that millions of dollars were squandered on poorly scrutinized projects. Our government dumped money into quick fixes with, for too long, little regard for the culture of dependency it was breeding. But much of this has changed. Yes, sustainable job creation was not initially a priority, and working-age residents of Adhamiyah remain dangerously underemployed. But in this area we have begun to create more permanent jobs.

A US soldier coaches Iraqi soldiers on how to detain a prisoner ...
US soldier coaches Iraqi soldiers on how to detain a prisoner during a training exercise in Diyala province. A top UN official said the sectarian bloodshed which has ravaged Iraq since 2006 is now running at a “much lower” level, offering a chance for leaders to push national reconciliation.(AFP/File/David Furst)


Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/14/AR2008031403231.html?hpid=opinionsbox1 

U.S. urges NATO allies to back 5-year Afghan plan

March 13, 2008

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The United States is urging NATO allies at a summit next month to sign up to a five-year plan stepping up efforts to end the insurgency in Afghanistan, according to a document obtained by Reuters.

Under the plan, alliance members would commit to plug troop shortfalls and supply enough well-trained and flexible forces to combat insurgents, while providing the support, training and equipment needed by Afghanistan’s own security forces.

The U.S. proposals also set out benchmarks for measuring success, such as the ability of Afghanistan to hold elections undisrupted by violence, and to field a trained army of 70,000 troops and a professionalized 82,000-strong police force.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080313/ts_nm/afghan_nato_usa_dc;_ylt=Aijqy
JpNQuFosfklio.Xanms0NUE

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique de Nord
Flag of NATO

NATO urged to do more in Afghanistan

February 7, 2008

From combined dispatches
(Peace and freedom thanks AP, Reuters, CNN, ABC)
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Senior U.S. officials yesterday turned up the heat on NATO allies to do more in the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, warning that a planned influx of 3,000 Marines is unlikely to halt the deterioration of security there.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation du traité de l’Atlantique Nord

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in London that Western countries must prepare their citizens for a long fight, while in Washington, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said a failure in Afghanistan would put “a cloud over the future” of NATO.
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The remarks came amid a drumbeat of discouraging news on several fronts, including a new U.N. report predicting another bumper opium crop that will help to fund the insurgency.
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Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said during a visit to Tallinn, Estonia, that more foreign troops are needed. The threat from the Taliban “is much higher than anticipated in 2001,” he told reporters.
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Germany agreed yesterday to boost its force in the country by 200 troops but refused to let them serve in the south where they might face combat. In Canada, which has 2,500 troops fighting in the south, it became clear that an effort to extend the mission could bring down the Conservative-led government.
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A British think tank said that country’s relief efforts in Afghanistan were failing, undermining military gains.
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Britain’s Department for International Development in embattled Helmand province “is dysfunctional, totally dysfunctional. Basically it should be removed and its budget should go to the army, which might be better able to deliver assistance,” said the president of the Senlis Council, which has long experience in Afghanistan.
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The Taliban staged more than 140 suicide missions last year, the most since it was ousted from power in late 2001 by the U.S.-led invasion that followed the September 11 attacks. “I do think the alliance is facing a real test here,” Miss Rice said at a press conference with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in London. “Our populations need to understand this is not a peacekeeping mission” but rather a long-term fight against extremists, she said. 

Mr. Gates said he was not optimistic that the addition of 3,000 Marines to Afghanistan this spring will be enough to put the NATO-led war effort back on track. He has sent letters to every alliance defense minister asking for more troops and equipment but has not received any replies, he said during a Senate hearing. 

All 26 NATO nations have soldiers in Afghanistan and all agree the mission is their top priority, but only the Canadians, British, Australians, Dutch and Danes “are really out there on the line and fighting,” Mr. Gates said.

He said he would be “a nag on this issue” when he meets NATO defense ministers today and tomorrow in Europe.

But there was little evidence yesterday that the allies are prepared to increase their contributions.

In Berlin, Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung told reporters Germany will send around 200 combat soldiers to northern Afghanistan this summer to replace a Norwegian unit, but would not move them to the nation’s endangered south. 

“If we neglected the north,” where conditions are relatively peaceful, “we would commit a decisive mistake,” Mr. Jung said. 

In Ottawa, a spokeswoman for Opposition Leader Stephane Dion said Mr. Dion had been told by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that a parliamentary vote to extend Canada’s mission would be treated as a matter of confidence, meaning the minority government will fall if it fails. 

Canada has already said it will not extend the mission if other NATO countries do not increase their contributions.

In Tokyo, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime predicted that this year’s production of opium poppies would be close or equal to last year’s record of 477,000 acres. Taliban rebels receive up to $100 million from the drug trade, the agency estimated. 

The Taliban “are deriving an enormous funding for their war by imposing … a 10 percent tax on production,” said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. agency.

Mr. Gates told the Senate hearing that he worries “a great deal” about NATO evolving into “a two-tiered alliance, in which you have some allies willing to fight and die to protect peoples’ security, and others who are not.”

Overall, there are about 43,000 troops in the NATO-led coalition, including 16,000 U.S. troops. An additional 13,000 U.S. troops are outside NATO command, training Afghan forces and hunting al Qaeda terrorists.

Related:
SecDef Gates, Admiral Mullen Testify Before SASC