How Many Combat Tours Before You Flip Out?
by James Glaser
March 22, 2011
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I must admit that a string of ears around a soldiers neck never did much for me. I was in the Nam in 68 and 69, and things like that we not rampant, but I did see it a few times. When I first got there we had a guy in our unit who was on his third tour, and he wanted to do another, but the Marine Corps said he had done enough and sent him home.

I think everybody is different and some guys flipped out in a matter of months, and others never did. Today there are Soldiers and Marines who have done way more than three tours, if you combine time in Iraq and Afghanistan together. Yes, they have some time at home between tours, but those multiple tours do add up.

Now we have a news story about our troops in Afghanistan. This story has thousands of photos and some videos to go along with the print. America's media seems to try and cover up things that are reported about our troops, but this one was covered by a German publisher.

Der Spiegel uncovered around 4,000 photos and videos taken by the so-called kill squad. The images released on Sunday were covered by a judicial order from a military court prohibiting their dissemination, and it was unclear how the newspaper obtained them.

"Today Der Spiegel published photographs depicting actions repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army," the army said in a statement released by Colonel Thomas Collins.

"We apologize for the distress these photos cause."

Isn't that a nice touch? The Army is apologizing. However, they are apologizing for the distress of these photos cause, not for the killing of innocent civilians.

It seems that one squad of the United States Army decided they should kill innocent Afghan civilians and then document those kills with photos and video. It is now reported that documentation of their acts were not enough, so they started taking body parts as trophies.

Now you know the Army and the Pentagon, and I bet our media too is going to claim this was a rogue outfit, and that nobody else in our military had ever done anything like this.

Of course men and women who have been in combat are not going to buy that line. Sure, killing of civilians is not your everyday occurrence in the combat zone, but it is not infrequent either. I am sure with the number of multiple tours we now see it happens more often than not.

There are many reasons these killings happen. Some kill because they are in a job that does not require direct action with the enemy, and a tiny fraction of one percent of those mechanics, office people, artillery , or truck drivers start to think that if they don't kill somebody, anybody, they won't feel like they have really been to war. No, it doesn't matter that they are killing some unarmed person. Even though it is just a tiny percentage, after ten years of war, those numbers add up.

Then there are people who are murderers. They probably would kill or will kill here at home some day. Some people flip out and need revenge for the loss of a comrade who was killed by unknown people in a roadside bombing. They don't know who planted that bomb, it could have been anyone. The Taliban don't wear uniforms, and soon all Afghans look to be the enemy.

Most Soldiers and Marines can handle one or two tours, and while the chance for life-long problems with PTSD go up with each month in a combat zone, they don't develop any need to kill. But for some, killing becomes their identity, and they need that thrill and the adrenalin rush that comes with that killing.

It isn't just Americans, the same thing happens with any army in any war. The longer the war, the more atrocities that take place.

We don't know how to figure out when enough is enough for any given man or woman in combat, but we do know the harder we push them, and the longer we keep them in combat, the better chance there is for them to flip out.

We know that, but we keep sending them back again and again and again. The need for profit by the Military Industrial Complex is greater than the need to treat our men and women in uniform with the care and respect they deserve.

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