The ongoing tensions in Middle East have disrupted peace in the region bringing in life-threatening situations for the US troops deployed in the area. The continued attacks on the forces deployed to mitigate the rising tensions in the region have reflected concerns of increased mental illness amongst them.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper cleared the air of criticisms surrounding the government for its failure in taking appropriate steps to end the crisis, saying that the country is trying to negotiate with the Iraqi government. “One of the things we need to do is make sure we have permission from the host government, and that’s one of the matters we have to work on and work through,” Esper said during a Pentagon press conference. “We need the permission of the Iraqis.”
In the wake of the recent attacks by Iran on Iraqi bases housing the US troops, the US now plans to put Patriot missile defense systems in Iraq. But could that be done? Considering the fact that a Patriot battalion is relatively a large organization, it’s a little difficult for the US to bring it in Iraq and yet, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said that the country was taking steps to make the mechanics of it to work out in Iraq.
The Defense Department has Patriot systems in other Middle Eastern countries also, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to protect forces from foreign attacks. One of the major aims to deploy Patriot defense systems in Iraq is to protect the troops against possible Iranian attacks.
After the Iranian attacks that were a retaliation for the US’ killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, many were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Since, Soleimani was an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and commander of its Quds Force, his death was a huge shock to the Iranian officials, who retaliated for the same purpose.
Initially it was said that none of the troop members suffered any casualties during the Iranian attacks, but as days passed more than 64 troop members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. Although the US now prepares for future retaliations from Iran, it should take active steps to avoid the growing rate of mental illness in the military. The longer deployment of troops at a particular region seems to have played a significant role in increasing the cause.
Several commanders and veterans have criticized the US’ flawed policies to be another reason that highly strain the military’s activities and in turn have a worst impact on the soldiers. Lack of proper equipment further complicates their situation. Over the time, the death toll and lack of morale have also contributed to an increase in mental illness in the military.
The President’s comment, downplaying the US troops injuries as simply “headaches” but nothing “very serious” has brought huge criticisms for him, while adding to the military’s tensions. Though he later revised his statements, it in no way is related to minimize the future dangers of TBI.
While considering the possibility to provide equal equipment to its soldiers in Iraq, Mark Milley indicated that there were logistical aspects to work out in moving Patriot systems into Iraq. If ignored, there are chances that the crippling illnesses such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in the deployed US troops would consequently impact the Iraqi civilians. There are chances that it might lead to vast number of humanitarian breaches in the country.