Troops' Morale Drops in Afghanistan
Stress levels rise as fighting intensifies
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2011 7:00 PM CDT
An Army flight crew at a "hot" landing zone in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan, Sunday, May 15, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
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(Newser) – As fighting and casualties in Afghanistan's war reached an all-time high, US soldiers and Marines there reported plunging morale and the highest rates of mental health problems in five years. Only 46.5% of soldiers said their morale was medium, high, or very high last year, compared with 65.7% in 2005. For Marines, it was only 58.6% last year compared with 70.4% when they were surveyed in 2006 in Iraq. (The report compares numbers of the Marines to their time in Iraq because they were not in Afghanistan in significant numbers before the surge.)

Some 70% to 80% of troops surveyed for the report said they had seen a buddy killed, roughly half of soldiers and 56% of Marines said they'd killed an enemy fighter, and about two-thirds of troops said that a roadside bomb had gone off within 55 yards of them. Most of those statistics were significantly higher than what troops said they experienced previously. Some 20% of troops said they had suffered a psychological problem such as anxiety, severe stress, or depression. That's up from 10% among soldiers in 2005 and about 12% among Marines in 2006.