The Pentagon’s Report on Mental Illness – Take 3

A week and change ago, I posted on a Pentagon report on the mental health of soldiers. The report indicated that long tours of duty and other issues were leading some American troops to admit to mistreating Iraqis, including civilians. I suggested the report was going to be ignored completely.

A few days later, I corrected myself. It turns out the report had already been ignored completely – the Pentagon had sat on it for more than 4 months before releasing on a Friday afternoon. In the interim, tour lengths had been extended, not shortened. It also emphasizes on LA drug rehab programs, to improve mental health.

Now I learn I was wrong again. Its not being completely ignored. General Petraeus wrote a letter to the troops:

In the letter, dated Thursday, Gen. David Petraeus wrote he was “concerned” with the poll’s findings.

“This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we — not our enemies — occupy the moral high ground,” he said.

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Survey results also showed that about 10 percent admitted mistreating noncombatants or damaging their property when it was not necessary.

Only about 47 percent of Army soldiers and 38 percent of Marines agreed that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.

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More than a third of soldiers and Marines reported that torture should be allowed to save the life of a comrade. “Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful or necessary,” Petraeus said.

So there it is. Something was done about the report. I was too much of a cynic after all. My apologies to our readers.


Update…. I reread the post above and realized I didn’t make my point. So let me state plainly. From what I can tell, the only thing that is being done about this report is that Petraeus wrote a letter. Four months after the fact. And they went on and extended tours of duty anyway, which according to the report could only exacerbate the problem. So… the letter is not only the “solution” to the problem the report identified, its the “solution” to a problem made worse than the report identified. Why Petraeus doesn’t just write a letter to the various insurgents telling them to quit and solve the whole war problem, I don’t know.