Saturday, November 10, 2007

Consequences of Extended Tours

This is terrible.

According to Pentagon figures, 29 soldiers lost their lives in August for non-hostile reasons, and another 23 died of non-combat causes in September. Compare that with the average for the first seven months of this year: fewer than nine per month. The spike has coincided with extended 15-month deployments, one senior military official said.

The military officially counts about 20% of the nearly 3900 U.S. fatalities in Iraq as "noncombat." It has officially confirmed 128 suicides in Iraq since 2003, with many others under investigation (and still more taking place on the return home).

Lt. Gen. Ham said morale remains high, but added, "I think there is a general consensus ... that for the Army, 15 months is a long hard tour. It's hard on the soldiers."
As a matter of perspective and comparison, it would be interesting to see the same data from other prolonged military engagements, if anyone has such information.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if our soldiers and marines have ever had to do combat missions this hard. Fighting an insurgency is extremely difficult to begin with, and combat in built-up areas is the most stressful thing a soldier ever has to do.

    In Iraq, both factors are combined. Some units go out on patrol almost every day, targets for IEDs and snipers. Lately the Pentagon likes to tell us about a decline in casualties, ignoring the fact that 2007 has been the bloodiest year yet for us and the Iraqis.

    According to Jon Soltz, Co-Founder and Chair of, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is something to worry about-- a lot.

    "We know from previous studies that greater than 30 percent of Iraq veterans coming home have some PTSD. Those studies were done before third deployments and 15 month extensions. And, remember, sometimes PTSD takes years for manifest itself. So bank on the number with PTSD being higher by war's end and in years after."