Troops Make Mistakes When They Are Exhausted, Hot and Scared

by James Glaser
September 15, 2003

Yes, we do have brave young men and women in our military over in Iraq, but that doesn't mean they aren't scared. The heat and exhaustion goes with the territory and so does being scared.

Nothing travels faster in Iraq than reports of someone getting wounded or killed. The Soldiers and Marines over there know within hours if someone in any unit gets hurt. It doesn't matter if it happened 300 miles away, the troops know. 'Scuttlebutt," is what we called it, these guys probably have their own word for it. Unofficial reports about what is going on with the troops.

About ten Americans are wounded every day in Iraq and on average, almost two a day are getting killed in combat or accidents. Some reports have the number of wounded much higher than this, we as Americans are not getting any real reports on the nightly flights of wounded arriving at Walter Reed Military Hospital.

Nobody interviews the wounded troops, but we do know and this a sick one, our wounded Soldiers and Marines have to pay for their meals while hospitalized. Congressman C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee said, "I was amazed. I couldn't believe it when I heard it." To make a point about their objection to these meal charges, Congressman Young and his wife Beverly, recently paid $210.60 bill at the National Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for a Marine Corps reservist who lost part of his foot during a recent deployment, according to Young, a 10 year old Iraqi dropped a grenade in the Marine's Humvee. So much for supporting the troops.

You better believe that our troops in Iraq know all about these charges and it is just another kick in the ass, like getting their tour of duty extended. This all adds up and puts a lot of stress on everyone.

The long hours and the heat and the constant daily reminder that you might be next, is the main reason that ten Iraqi Policeman were killed by our troops this weekend. When you are in actual combat, there is no fear, the adrenaline is pumping and everything is happening so fast your training kicks in and you do what ever you have to.

Right now our troops are not in combat, they have become an occupying force and are guarding hospitals, oil fields, and they are manning road check points. There is a lot of convoy duty and in all of these jobs the troops are the targets for those trying to push us out of Iraq.

These troops are scared. Sometimes you get so scared that your whole body shakes, some guys get sick, others can't concentrate. Combine the fear of dying or getting maimed with the long hours and the heat and you know accidents are going to happen.

Those Iraqi Policeman I am sure were hit with everything our troops could fire at them. Your scared and it is the middle of the night and you think some one is trying to kill you. Well in that situation your mind can play tricks on you and things that wouldn't look life threatening in another time and place are totally different now. You know so many Americans have been shot, you are not about to take a chance, so you waste them. That is what happens in War.

We have no idea of how many Iraqi Civilians are getting killed because in this war we are not keeping body counts. With modern American fire power in a city like Baghdad, with five million people, you would have to believe that our troops are opening up every time they are hit and the carnage must be terrible.

Each and every time an American Soldier or Marine is killed or wounded the troops that were with them are really stressed for weeks. Everyone is on edge and it doesn't take much to set them off. You start losing friends and it does not take very long for hate to build up to go along with that fear. Hate is a real good way to cover up the fear you have and if we keep losing guys every day we are soon going to have some real atrocity..

The reason that American troops killed large groups of Civilians in Vietnam is that they had reached the breaking point. Day after day they were having men in their unit getting killed or wounded. After having that go on for too long, the fear for their safety and the hate of those killing their friends, sent them over the edge and they started killing anyone that wasn't an American.

I hope no units in Iraq have reached that point yet, but it will happen if we keep these troops there too long. That is why you rotate the troops out of there. Every war is different. Just because you could keep Soldiers in one war in country for a year, does not mean you can for every war.

Our troops are good, but we now have them doing jobs they have no training for. Marines and Army Infantry are trained to fight. Now we have them dealing with a civilian population that speaks another language. These troops are stressed to the maximum right now because they were told to take Baghdad so they could go home and then they found out their officers were bullshitting them. They did their job and did it well and they should be sent home now.

If we don't have the troops to replace them, that is not their fault, but the fault of those that planned this war. You have to know that we are going to have a lot of guys with psychological problems from this war, even if they all came home tomorrow. The longer they stay in a state of the extreme stress they are living in now, the more people that will have problems.

If we don't have the troops to replace the ones we have there now. Then we should admit that we were not ready for this war and for the sake of these fine troops and the Iraqi people we should pack it in and head for home.

Lets face it, we screwed up. We were not ready for this type of after combat duty. We don't have the trained personnel needed to take over from our combat troops. They did their job, why do they have to bear the brunt of Washington's poor planning?


Sunday morning an American Soldier was killed by a roadside bomb attack on his convoy. Three others were wounded.

Two Soldiers were killed and seven wounded west of Baghdad.

In another attack two Coalition Soldiers were wounded when their Military Police vehicle hit a explosive device near the Abu Ghurayb market in western Baghdad

And in yet another attack, a soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division was wounded by rebels firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades near the Jordanian Hospital in Falluja. Five noncombatants were wounded.

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