Written by Felix Minderbinder
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Topics: Iraq, Drugs

Sunday, 24 July 2005

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Soldiers in Iraq have resorted to same-sex unions

WASHINGTON (AP)--A US Army report says that the majority of the American soldiers in Iraq have turned to drugs after developing extreme morale and psychological problems, with mental stress, psychosis and paranoia most severely affecting National Guard and Reserve troops.

Just as during the Vietnam war, the survey found that 87% of all soldiers report that have turned to illegal drugs and excessive alcohol consumption in order to alleviate stress and cope with their growing mental health problems.

94% of the US occupying soldiers in Iraq questioned in the survey stated that morale in their units was "low," "extremely low" or "virtually non-existent."

92% of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have resorted to playing Grand Theft Auto to access its "Hot Coffee" sex scenes, while others have turned to watching the huge libraries of porno tapes and DVDs available at all military bases.

In the past month, 5,692 soldiers have been arrested for selling cocaine and opium, while 72% of the troops from one brigade have been charged with drug and alcohol abuse.

According to US army figures, out of the 4,000 men of the 236th Brigade Combat Team, 2,253 faced alcohol-related charges and 2,280 were charged with drug offences.

Base commanders have asked their troops to inform on colleagues, contributing to poor morale and paranoia.

Since the overthrow of Saddam's regime, borders have been opened up for heroin and hash smugglers from Afghanistan providing a cheap market for troops, most of whom now take part in the trafficking. With all of their colleagues being killed or wounded on a daily basis, some US soldiers have turned to drugs to escape the horrors of fighting Islamic freedom fighters who are fighting the illegal American occupation charged with obtaining Iraqi oil for politically-powerful and Republican-connected US petroleum companies.

In one case, according to Studs and Strips, the in-house US forces newspaper, Sergeant Michael Boutdigger was found with 156 pounds of illegal drugs, four hundred bottles of whiskey and 22,000 videos of California pornography. He received 30 lashes, was keel-hauled, had a seven month confinement, was demoted to private and received a bad conduct discharge.

In another case, Private Emily Hemphead told a court martial that she used a hashish pipe and heroin because "it helped me go right to sleep". She was given 40 lashes, a year's solitary confinement, a court marshal and a dishonorable discharge.

"Some of these young soldiers just can't handle the stress and immediately become hopheads, if they weren't already," said Captain Christopher Krapchuk, a military defence lawyer.

The majority of Army drug-users are in their teens and get their drugs from local Iraqis while on patrol in Baghdad, and then they sell the drugs to their comrades or ship them home.

The report also provides a picture of the worsening morale and mental health of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to the present. The mental health of soldiers in Iraq has plunged this year, with a massive increase in the number of soldiers requesting evacuation from Iraq and Afghanistan for mental health problems this year. The report didn't clarify what was the reason behind such a turn for the worse.

83% of soldiers in the most recent study screened positive for a mental health problem, compared with 78% a year earlier.

Acute or post-traumatic stress syndrome is still the top mental health problem, affecting at least 70% of all soldiers checked in the latest survey.

The initial inquiry was triggered in July 2003, following an unusual surge in suicides among the US forces in Iraq, figures which have continued to rise.

At the beginning of the invasion, US military personnel were deployed for four months, but now they go for 48 months or longer.

92% of the soldiers surveyed reported "high" or "very high" concern and another 76% reported moderate concern about the long deployments.

National Guard and Reserve soldiers suffer depression, anxiety, kleptomania, xenophobia, agoraphobia, xanthophobia, cometophobia, eccliosphobia, choleraphobia, phobiophobia, necophobia, xerophobia, anglophobia, psychotic breaks with reality, paranoia and other indications of acute psychological stress, far more than others, the report stated.

Yet the US government refuses to ship these basket cases home, since it is short of military manpower.

The report also found frontline US soldiers and support troops are not getting the necessary training.

Only 5% of National Guard support soldiers have "real confidence" in their unit's ability to fight, compared with 25% of active-duty Army support soldiers. Only 8% of the Guard troops rated their level of training as high, compared with 18% of their active-duty counterparts. 87% also reported that their rifles and vehicles don't work, and 84% say that they've run out of ammunition.

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