Battle Fatigue and Combat Stress

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Bad_Crow, Dec 26, 2007.

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  1. Just been chatting with a mate who is reading a book that he got yesterday off the fat bearded one.

    It claims that during WWII Soldiers were pretty much too mentally hammered to keep fighting after anymore than 2 months of prolonged fighting.

    Physically after 36 hours or so we all know that you have to rotate and rest soldiers as they start to get fcuking hungry get lathargic and let their admin go to sh1t. (That is my personal opinion) So you let them sleep. I'd say after no more than a week they need proper rest in order to maintain high levels of efficiency.

    Soooooo, with all this in mind are the lads in the FOB's of Helmand being burnt out more quickly than we can replace them. Or is the difference in intensity of WW2 - Op Herrick vast enough that soldiers can cope with more time in contact due to less "Tiger Tanks/Air Bombardment/Panzer divisions" being involved?

    Kind of links in with the push for longer tours. I like the idea of longer tours for a few reasons one of which being the longer you spend in theatre the more tuned in you are so the easier you will spot the combat indicators and adapt. However hand in hand with that is boredom and complacency kicks in.

    Also I would like to add the affects that those on Op Telic have suffered. The last couple of tours were no push over to say the least not to mention the likes of CIMIC house 2004 etc.
     
  2. and of course the Americans are doing this so well with their year long tours?
    Why not do it the way the army was deployed in WW2 one old boy I nursed left Belfast in August 1939 for TA Camp and returned in October 1946 returning from Burma. It will save a fortune on shifting units to and From Afghanistan and Iraq and what an incentive you don't get to go home till the war is over!!!!!
    Is that a long enough tour for you?
     
  3. I chose to take the last R&R on my last tour- 5 months almost to the day. It was quite a busy tour, and with about a week to go to R&R I became aware that I really needed a rest. On my way back to the UK, I met up with a couple of mates, over on a recce, and after me talking to them for about ten minutes I noticed they were staring at me as if I was mad. R&R really recharged the batteries, and I was fine again to the end of the tour.

    If longer tours were to be considered, I reckon you need R&R about once every 4 months, and in addition troops would really need to be rotated in theatre to maintain full operating capability. That said, even small periods of change or 'rest' can really make a difference- we were placed on reserve for another op one night, which pushed us down to about 30 min NTM, based in a camp. We were very unlikely to deploy (we didn't) and it really gave us all a rest.
     
  4. Well i assume you have your own experience on operations to back that one up.

    I'm also sure that the old boy wasn't in contact the whole time he was away and will have been rested and rotated as units did at the time because the numbers were sufficient. Not saying it was easy by any stretch of the imagination!
     
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  6. TELIC 1 we did a shade over 6 months without R&R in very poor conditions indeed, still in bashas with DTLs at the 5 month point...

    ...we were pretty fcuked physically and mentally, a fact commented on by 19X who relieved us...could we have pushed out another 5 1/2 months?

    Yes, but it would have carried significant risk due to fatigue etc....would I have wanted to....probably not
     
  7. I too remember a reading a psychology book which stated the same, however it wasn't necessarily combat, but the threat of physical harm -mortal danger which so tires the mind into breakdown. Time away from the mortal danger, in a place without threat of bombardment or sniping is thought to be enough to recharge enough not to succumb. This was known in WW2 by some armies, with British lines being rotated from the front every 14 days wherever possible (probably as a result of spending 4 yrs learning about shell shock in WW1), US soldiers often fought until wounded or they fell to combat stress, and as a result suffered far worse psychological casualties during and after.
    I'll reference it when i find out what its called but its a fascinating read, superb first hand accounts too.

    The book was #Richard Holmes- Acts of War: The Behaviour of Men in Battle, (1986) ISBN 9780029150207

    Edited to add book title and author.
     
  8. On Telic 7 & 8, Div HQ staff were getting 3 day R&R packages in Kuwait every couple of months. It's a great idea, although for some reason it wasn't offered to the Infantry lads who could have really done with it...
     
  9. I don't think my colleagues and I could have continued much beyond 6 months at that time (and some of them had been working at an operational level for much, much longer). I was shattered on my return and it took me months to recover, by which time... but that's another story!

    Litotes
     
  10. On telic 3/4 OSD was availble towards the end of tour but due to company work comitments not many got to go, on Telic 9 our OC said only good boys could go anyone agaied was not alloweda wee break. bear in mind this came from a man who had daily afternoon naps in the comfort of his bed while he said he was visiting the boys at work.

    A book on 7 armoured div in Normandy mentions the fact that nco's were cautious and more wary after spending 2+ years fighting in the desert.
     
  11. The book must mainly be referring to being shelled or mortared which i found is worse than actual combat as you have no control over your destiny. In combat you are at a heightened state of readiness and the adrenalin is working overtime. Being shelled and/or mortared is just a complete lick. I suppose that's why PTSD was once called shell shock as it was the shelling that sent many soldiers over the edge.
     
  12. The book must mainly be referring to being shelled or mortared which i found is worse than actual combat as you have no control over your destiny. In combat you are at a heightened state of readiness and the adrenalin is working overtime. Being shelled and/or mortared is just a complete lick. I suppose that's why PTSD was once called shell shock as it was the shelling that sent many soldiers over the edge.[/quote]

    I think you might be right, it certainly suggested that the helplessness was one of the deciding factors in the mental stress, at least behind a berm you can consider yourself in relative safety and maybe breathe for a minute or two. Its quite interesting having heard that from youthat even today with undefined front lines a soldier who has seen combat is happier facing direct rather that indirect fire.

    Edited to add that although PTSD is the long term sum of the stress, I think it was descibed as Combat Fatigue or Combat stress
     
  13. If I know how long I'm out for I can live with it. What I can't cope with is extensions.

    IDF is a lottery, but when the bang goes off your happy.
     
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  15. amen to that, it was always better when you could hear the whistle too.. that usually meant it was going to be far enough away.