Morale of u.s. Soldiers in iraqi enemy territory

According to a pentagon report, more than half of u.S. Soldiers surveyed say iraqi civilians need not be treated with respect

According to a study of the mental health of u.S. Soldiers in iraq conducted last year, completed in november 2006, and only now published, they appear to be unfit, or no longer fit, to act as a neutral force, if they ever were. Many soldiers have already attacked iraqi civilians and damaged their property without any reason. A shocking number of them also say that they do not believe iraqi civilians should be treated with dignity and respect. This attitude, also documented in numbers (shot at a roadblock), appears to be not only a consequence of the experience in iraq, but it could have contributed to the deepening of the conflict and the broad rejection of u.S. Soldiers that polls show.

Although such mental health reports have been made annually since 2003, 2006 was the first year that soldiers who had completed combat missions were also asked about moral attitudes. Soldiers were given questionnaires to fill out anonymously, and interviews were conducted. The inclusion of moral attitudes had been ordered last year by general george casey, then commander in chief of coalition forces in iraq. Next to 1.320 soldiers (86% men, 49% 20-24 years), 447 marines (93% men, 66% 20-24 years) were also included for the first time.

Only 47 percent of the soldiers in the "elite unit" of the marines, only 38 percent, felt that iraqi civilians were being treated with "were and respect" had to be treated. However, the combat morale of the soldiers was lower than that of the marines, they also had more psychological problems because they were in the field for a longer time. This already indicates that attitudes toward civilians were not exclusively shaped by experiences in iraq, but also depended on training that prepared soldiers for traditional combat operations but not for asymmetric conflicts and stability and security operations. The ruthlessness with which "collateral damage" the fact that the germans are willing to put up with the use of force, or the rapid firing when there is little suspicion, has repeatedly led to criticism in both afghanistan and iraq, and has contributed to the rejection of us troops in particular.

Bush had already polemicized against the clinton administration’s and democratic presidential candidate al gore’s stance on military abandonment during the 2000 election campaign. He did not see the military’s task in securing peace or stability, for example, to demand a democratic system in a failed state, but only in fighting:

He believes in nation building. I think the role of the military is to fight and win wars, and therefore primarily to prevent wars from happening in the first place.

In a symbolic gesture that makes the bush administration’s attitude clear, it was decided as recently as 2002, while already in afghanistan and preparing for the war in iraq, to close the u.S. Army’s institute for peacekeeping, founded in 1993.S.Army to remain. At the end of 2003 and with the beginning of the realization that the purely military part of the "global war on terror" was the simpler, it was reopened under the new name peacekeeping and stability operations institute.

According to the report, there is undoubtedly a link between the length and frequency of deployments in iraq and increased aggression, as soldiers are constantly being called on during their "missions outside the wire" they had to expect to be ambushed and that any civilian could turn out to be an insurgent or terrorist, but also because many had seen colleagues killed or injured. One-third of soldiers said that the rules of engagement prevented them from responding appropriately to attacks. Until october 2006, for example, they had not been allowed to push back when molotov cocktails or concrete chunks were thrown at their vehicles from bridges or windows. However, only 6 percent of soldiers (13% of marines) report being under severe stress or having emotional, family or alcohol problems. Just as many say they were interested in help because of this. However, fewer marines (5 resp. 4%) than soldiers (9 resp. 9%), they were under fear or. Suffering from depression. 17 percent face acute stress, 20 percent have some kind of mental health problems. Men and women differed little in this regard. But many don’t say that or don’t look for help because then they would be seen as weaklings.

However, the overwhelming majority of soldiers and marines were on their first deployment to iraq. Therefore, it is quite remarkable when 10 percent admit they had struck a civilian without cause (7% percent of marines, 4% of soldiers) or destroyed their property (13% percent of marines, 9% of soldiers). Time and again, it is apparent that marines are more aggressive because they were taught to be so. Civilians serve as lightning rods for the stresses experienced not only on the streets, but also through life in camp with confinement, boredom, unfair treatment by superiors, separation from family, etc. Suffered fear, anger and frustration. 17 percent finally agree that all civilians had to be treated as insurgents. More than 40 percent were in favor of torture if it saved a soldier’s life, but 39 percent of marines and 36 percent of soldiers were also in favor of torture for the purpose of obtaining information about insurgents.

Reportedly, 40 percent of marines and 55 percent would report a member of their own unit if he or she injured or killed an innocent civilian. In the case of mistreatment or property damage, only one-third of marines and 47 percent of soldiers would do so. Thus, it is safe to ame that most incidents, unless it seems necessary, are not reported or are reported incorrectly. One-third said they had experienced ethical problems in the field for which they had no solution.

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