US Troops In Iraq: “Stress Is Showing”
(US soldiers in Baghdad. AFP/File photo/Wisam Sami)
While the White House and the US Congress are busy sorting out their own things/priorities, one wonders if anyone is taking stock of the ground realities in Iraq. Meanwhile a recent Pentagon’s “first ethics study of troops at the war front” seems alarming.
Poor General David Petraeus, chief US commander in Iraq, has been dumped with the responsibility to sort out the bloody mess, although he keeps repeating that there has to be some political/diplomatic initiative to achieve a semblance of sanity in Iraq.
Meanwhile, in a (Pentagon) survey of U.S. troops in combat in Iraq, …”the study team found that long and repeated deployments were increasing troop mental health problems,” says Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press Writer.
“But Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, the Army’s acting surgeon general, said the team’s ‘most critical’ findings were on ethics.
“The military has seen a number of high-profile incidents of alleged abuse in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the killings of 24 civilians by Marines, the rape and killing of a 14-year-old girl and the slaying of her family and the sexual humiliation of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.
“Analyst John Pike of the Globalsecurity.org think tank contrasted Iraq’s campaign to World War I, saying: ‘The trenches were pretty stressful, but a unit would only be up at the front for a few months and then get rotated to the rear. There’s no rear in Iraq; you’re subject to combat stress for your entire tour’.”
“Survey Findings Included”:
*Sixty-two percent of soldiers and 66 percent of Marines said that they knew someone seriously injured or killed, or that a member of their team had become a casualty.
*The 2006 adjusted rate of suicides per 100,000 soldiers was 17.3 soldiers, lower than the 19.9 rate reported in 2005.
*Only 47 percent of the soldiers and 38 percent of Marines said noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.
*About a third of troops said they had insulted or cursed at civilians in their presence.
*About 10 percent of soldiers and Marines reported mistreating civilians or damaging property when it was not necessary. Mistreatment includes hitting or kicking a civilian.
*Forty-four percent of Marines and 41 percent of soldiers said torture should be allowed to save the life of a soldier or Marine.
*Thirty-nine percent of Marines and 36 percent of soldiers said torture should be allowed to gather important information from insurgents.”
So in this alarming scenario either the US troops should be withdrawn from Iraq immediately. Or, the US army should be given total control of Iraq…And the pretension of having a democratic government in Iraq can be done away with.