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Background info to the “U.S. Soldier Opens Fire on Comrades” incident

12 May 2009

U.S. Soldier in Iraq Kills 5 Comrades at Stress Clinic“, Washington Post, 12 May 2009 — Isolated incident, or symptom of a problem — perhaps a growing problem?  For more about this, see the FM reference page An Army near the Breaking Point – studies & reports.

Here are some of the relevant articles listed there.

Articles about the Army’s fitness, and the mental and physical fitness of its people

  1. Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence“, 28 February 2001 — Last report of the 3 year project.
  2. U.S. Army Isn’t Broken After All, Military Experts Say“, Fox News, 19 March 2008.   This provides data suggesting that the US Army is in better shape than many believe.  Of special note are the data they show in these nine charts.
  3. Military check-up time“, Michael O’Hanlon, Washington Times, 4 May 2008 — O’Hanlon presents data that refutes widely held perception that the Army is breaking under the strain of the long war.
  4. Reagan and the draft“, Lawrence Korb, Washington Times, 16 May 2008 — A powerful rebuttal to Michael O’Hanlon’s Washington Times article of 4 May.
  5. Invisible Wounds of War“, RAND (2008) — “Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery”
  6. America’s Medicated Army“, Time, 5 June 2008 — About the growing use of anti-depressants by US army personnel.  Also see my post about this article.
  7. “VA testing drugs on war veterans” – The Washington Times and ABC News, 18 June 2008
  8. Is post-traumatic stress disorder more common now than in past wars?
  9. Suicides skyrocket among US soliders, 26 March 2009
  10. Prescription Drugs and the U.S. Military — The War…on Drugs“, Melody Petersen, Men’s Health magazine, current issue (undated) — “Our Military is fielding one of the most heavily medicated fighting forces in the history of war. Our soldiers aren’t just fighting our enemies, they’re often also fighting their prescriptions.”

About the incidence of suicide among soldiers and veterans

(A)  Official sources:

  1. Suicide Prevention Program Update“, CDR Aaron D. Werbel PhD, HQ USMC, 26 January 2009
  2. High-impact training to address Corps’ suicide rate“, HQ USMC, 19 March 2008 – See the following entry for the video.
  3. Suicide Stand Down Video“, produced by the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.
  4. Testimony on the incidence of suicides of United States Service members and initiatives within DoD  to prevent military suicides, Senate Armed Services Committee, 18 March 2009 – By 8 senior officers and A. Kathryn Power (Director, Center of Mental Health Services, Department of Health and Human Services).

(B)  Articles in the general media:

  1. Suicide rate rises among airmen“, USA Today, 24 October 2004
  2. Suicides in Marine Corps Rise by 29%“, LA Times, 25 January 2005 — “Fast Pace of Operations Are Believed to Contribute”
  3. Marine suicide rate up, prompting more prevention training“, LA Times, 28 January 2009 — Commanders plan two-hour sessions for all their troops, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
  4. Army sees sharp rise in suicide rate“, LA Times, 30 January 2009 — “It’s the highest in 30 years. Military officials say in a report that prevention efforts are inadequate.”
  5. Leaders testify in D.C. on high suicide rates“, Marine Corps Times, 18 March 2009 — Report on the Senate hearing; see the previous section for a link to the hearing’s presentations.
  6. A General’s Personal Battle“, Wall Street Journal, 28 March 2009 — “The military is facing a sharp spike in suicides, and Maj. Gen. Mark Graham is leading the fight to reduce them. His mission is close to the heart: His own son, a young ROTC cadet, killed himself six years ago.”

Afterword

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 12 May 2009 3:33 pm

    A tragic episode. In the Vietnam War era, instead of killing their comrades, the American soldiers would kill their officers – “fragging.”

  2. anna nicholas permalink
    12 May 2009 9:38 pm

    The BBC website last night , mentioned that a soldier at a camp in Kuwait had killed 2 and wounded 14 , in 2005 . He was sentenced to death . When I read it last night , I thought it said ‘ to be shot ‘ but tonight when I checked ,it says ‘death ‘. I wondered what your law was in such a case , and what happened to the killer ?

  3. senor tomas permalink
    13 May 2009 10:16 pm

    “the American soldiers would kill their officers – “fragging.”

    They would also shoot them in the back while on jungle patrol. Which is why toward the end of the war platoon leaders would follow their men from behind rather than leading them from the front. Perhaps the all-volunteer recruiting system is why this does not happen now. During the Viet Nam era there were a lot of draftees who did not want to be in the military to begin with – and were angry they had been drafted.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: I have never seen a comparative analysis of fragging rates in the Vietnam War vs. other wars, either US or other nations. The numbers were tiny vs. the total 58 thousand American soliders killed in the war. From Wikipedia:

    “During the Vietnam War, fragging was reportedly common. There are documented cases of at least 230 American officers killed by their own troops, and as many as 1,400 other officers’ deaths could not be explained. Incidents of fragging have been recorded as far back as the 18th century Battle of Blenheim.”

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