Afghanistan: "All My Guys Are Hurt. No One Cares."
May 19, 2011
Posted by Mark Thompson, Time.com [Excerpts]
The Army-led seventh Mental Health Advisory Team surveyed combat soldiers and Marines (as opposed to those in support units) in both Afghanistan last summer to get an accurate picture of how they're faring, mentally, after nearly a decade of war. They surveyed 911 (a coincidence, I'm sure) and 335 Marines.
It's a pretty impressive feat; in past conflicts such studies generally were conducted among soldiers after they returned home. It's known as "MHAT-7" around the Pentagon. The Army quoted many of the soldiers it surveyed.
It certainly offers an unvarnished look inside a war that you can't get at a Pentagon briefing or Capitol Hill hearing.
It's also more candid than reporters get when talking to troops; here, they are speaking, more or less, among themselves:
Leaving home station, we didn't have a clue what we were going to do here. Mission set has changed 6 times since in country ... be flexible, but not THAT flexible! We are mission jumping constantly.
Goals/standards are ridiculous ... you can't meet them if they keep changing. Doing the right thing here is wrong.
There was no guidance from leadership on the goal of specific missions.
Role? I don't know if I am a platoon sergeant, squad leader, or team leader ... I still don't know my role and we are58 days out from coming home.
Info comes down, but we don't have a good understanding of it, but then we have to take it, try to make sense of it, and try to give It to our Joes. I know it doesn't make sense to them.
We had a large white board in the TOC (tactical operations center) for the purpose of writing down changes to the mission but the NCO wouldn't use it...instead he would keep the changes to himself.
You never get positive feedback, but you will get an -ss-chewing if you screw up ... They tell you what is not going to work.
There is no feedback at all from leadership.
Our platoon sergeant usually tells us that 'You guys are s--t bags for making me look bad.'
You want to throw 20 people into a 10 man tent and have us live like that for the past 9 months....REALLY.
Leadership was never NOT breathing down my neck...poor planning on many issues.
They use any sign of error to belittle you...focus is on failure to make themselves look better. Cruise control once we got here... it is nota problem until it is a catastrophe.
Nobody advocates for us. They never listen to the experts...they don't listen to the people that know. But I go toe-to-toe with them. I have to serve as the advocate. I get the blame though for everything that could go wrong.
Leadership is giving us Uunior enlisted] no support. They let themselves be walked all over.
They challenge us in unrealistic ways ... good idea fairy.
Leadership isn't teaching you how to fish, but instead they are just giving you a fish.
They are not engaged and have no concept about what is going on out there. They just don't get involved.
He (NCO) will send us to work while he stays back and watches TV.
They dictate methodology, don't innovate, and don't let others innovate either. Appearance means more than anything.
There is one solution and it's his solution.
It's their way or the highway.
They tell us to do it ourselves all the time...It's frustrating that when we do it ourselves they then come back and get mad at us because we didn't do it their way even though they didn't tell us how they wanted it done.
All my guys are hurt. No one cares. A guy with fractured foot is still going out on missions.
We survived a crash and all the NCO wanted to know was when we were going to be back to work.