The contemporary soldier question

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,338
Florania
#1
We certainly value the lives of our soldiers much more preciously today; of course, we can have many soldiers who haven't engaged in battles during their whole careers.
Quite contrary to the killing profession, the military can save many lives during major natural disasters.
Then, people in contemporary military forces will comment that today's soldiers are not cannon fodders; they are highly valued and professional people.
Contemporary military is also extremely sophisticated; even a contemporary private may require more mental ability then previous rank and list soldiers.
Can people tell me more about contemporary soldiers?
How did the Americans lose so many soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Do soldiers who have never engaged in armed conflicts have post-traumatic disorders?
How is the professional outlook after military career?
Who are more difficult to adjust, the veterans with battle experiences or those who never engage in battles?
I am one of the people who is curious about the military but without the opportunity to participate or engage.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,531
#2
How military and post-military career works is not the same everywhere but if you are asking more about U.S. alot depends on the particular career field a person working in.

During times of good economy, it is usually a bit more difficult to get good candidates to volunteer so the there are cash bonuses offered and sometimes special 'short' enlistments for very high value jobs that require a certain education. When the economy is doing poorly there are usually more than enough good candidates for the military and often due to the high retention rates there is a chance to find reasons to make sure low performing people are not recommended to continue in their military career and overall this increases professionalism as people compete with each other to prove they know their jobs though I think there are some flaws in the execution of this idea particularly in smaller career fields where people tend to make friends.

For the capabilities of individual soldiers it can vary from extremely high demand of both intellect and physical abilities to just average abilities. More rarely some people can exist with both below average physical and mental abilities though usually not both together- I have seen that a few times.

Not sure what you mean by many referring to Afghanistan? Relative to how many soldiers served there over the years casualties are quite low. The four main sources of casualties have been IEDs, enemy actions, crashes(vehicle and aircraft), and insider attacks.

There are mixed opinions on PTSD for people who haven't been on the ground. Some drone operators and signals intel people have claimed PTST and while I believe they do have some mental stresses I am not sure it is really fair to compare it to people who have had weapons or explosions at close range or been in close contact with friends or familiar faces for months that die in horrible or stupid ways.

The professional outlook varies hugely depending on both what job a person had while in the military, the length of experience, networking, clearances, the type of person. Easiest jobs tend to come if you have a recently renewed security clearance as those investigations cost $80-100,000 and many government contracts require it so I've had friends who went into jobs they had no experience in simply because the employer figured they could train them for less money than hiring a qualified person and doing the background checks for the clearances.

As a group combat veterans tend to be more intense, self-directed, and tolerate less BS which are good qualities in certain jobs but not others. I would say there are certainly more suicides in this group and some problems with addiction but not as many as portrayed in the media. Quite a few veterans who have not been in combat have issues adjusting to civilian life because of a lack of meaning and supervision as well the loss of income and the support network of their former unit/local duty station.
 
Feb 2016
4,300
Japan
#3
Anyone can get a post traumatic disorder .... they just have to experience or witness an extremely stressful/traumatic/shocking violent act.

So a soldier who never sees combat could plausibly get it if he was present during a disaster, crash, accident or massacre. As could any civilian.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,594
Crows nest
#4
I don't have the figures, but in the UK ex forces personnel form a high percentage as a single group of homeless people, and they seem more likely to end up in prison. Precisely why I cannot say, but some of the reasons for those having served longer periods in the military may be due to the increasingly vast gulf in culture between military life and civilian life. As the distance between WWII and the present increases , so does the problem. For some decades after the war, those who fought were still in the workplace, the police, schools, all my male teachers had seen active service, in politics at local and government level. There was a far more shared experience and culture then than there is now.

The armed forces require common sense and a attitude of getting things done, because if you don't, then you die. Modern life is wrapped in cotton wool and so many people seem "snowflakes", this is entirely at odds with military culture and some guys just cannot fit in to a society that is so "precious", self absorbed, flippant, and, well, I'm sure all the other stuff can be imagined....

On stress related problems. Most don't have this issue, and I would suspect that for those that suffered after the war, then with so many all having the same experiences, that is therapy in itself, but today they are adrift in a sea of uncaring indiferrence to a level where they may as well be on another planet. I don't say that nobody cares or there is no support, but not enough. Those not having seen actual combat are less likely to suffer any stress related problems, but it is not impossible if they have been subjected to long periods of stress even without firing or hearing a shot fired. The possibility of being shot or blown up by a bomb is also corrosive. To most civilians that would be seen as combat if even no shots were ever fired, I think.

I think it worth quoting a part of "Tommy" from Rudyard Kipling. It was written in 1890 after nearly a century on from a really major war and nearly forty years after Crimea, with only smaller wars in far away countries in between. It shows the indifference by the civilian population to the armed forces outside of a time of major war. We are now deep into a time of indifference, and for many the modern wars are like computer games to them, no matter that the fighting engaged in in Afghanistan was extremely fierce.

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, go away " ;
But it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.
 
Feb 2016
4,300
Japan
#5
As to US casualties in Afghanistan .... they are very low.

2271 dead, 19 000 wounded. Over what, 16 years? WELL below any attrition rates the US can sustain. Far less bloody than Korea or Vietnam.
 
Feb 2016
4,300
Japan
#6
I don't have the figures, but in the UK ex forces personnel form a high percentage as a single group of homeless people, and they seem more likely to end up in prison. Precisely why I cannot say, but some of the reasons for those having served longer periods in the military may be due to the increasingly vast gulf in culture between military life and civilian life. As the distance between WWII and the present increases , so does the problem. For some decades after the war, those who fought were still in the workplace, the police, schools, all my male teachers had seen active service, in politics at local and government level. There was a far more shared experience and culture then than there is now.

The armed forces require common sense and a attitude of getting things done, because if you don't, then you die. Modern life is wrapped in cotton wool and so many people seem "snowflakes", this is entirely at odds with military culture and some guys just cannot fit in to a society that is so "precious", self absorbed, flippant, and, well, I'm sure all the other stuff can be imagined....

On stress related problems. Most don't have this issue, and I would suspect that for those that suffered after the war, then with so many all having the same experiences, that is therapy in itself, but today they are adrift in a sea of uncaring indiferrence to a level where they may as well be on another planet. I don't say that nobody cares or there is no support, but not enough. Those not having seen actual combat are less likely to suffer any stress related problems, but it is not impossible if they have been subjected to long periods of stress even without firing or hearing a shot fired. The possibility of being shot or blown up by a bomb is also corrosive. To most civilians that would be seen as combat if even no shots were ever fired, I think.

I think it worth quoting a part of "Tommy" from Rudyard Kipling. It was written in 1890 after nearly a century on from a really major war and nearly forty years after Crimea, with only smaller wars in far away countries in between. It shows the indifference by the civilian population to the armed forces outside of a time of major war. We are now deep into a time of indifference, and for many the modern wars are like computer games to them, no matter that the fighting engaged in in Afghanistan was extremely fierce.
I think it's more that rank and file infantrymen are not placed into civilian life with skills that get them jobs. Soldiers who finish with usable skills (officers, comms, signals, engineers, drivers, logistics) are un likely to end up on the street. Common sense attitude? You don't get far in modern life with out that either. It's not modern society that puts soldiers on the street but MoD and government lack of care. Many RAF pilots on the street? Navy mechanics?
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,594
Crows nest
#7
There are re-settlement programmes, but one of the issues is that it can be difficult to re-settle some men into a society that is flushing itself down the lavatory and gives more support and aid to those the guys were fighting than they themselves, and indeed likes to prosecute old soldiers for carrying out the orders of the politicians, who remain of course immune for the consequences of their orders.
 
Last edited:
Nov 2010
7,545
Cornwall
#8
I don't have the figures, but in the UK ex forces personnel form a high percentage as a single group of homeless people, and they seem more likely to end up in prison. Precisely why I cannot say, but some of the reasons for those having served longer periods in the military may be due to the increasingly vast gulf in culture between military life and civilian life.
I think it's more that rank and file infantrymen are not placed into civilian life with skills that get them jobs. Soldiers who finish with usable skills (officers, comms, signals, engineers, drivers, logistics) are un likely to end up on the street. Common sense attitude? You don't get far in modern life with out that either. It's not modern society that puts soldiers on the street but MoD and government lack of care. Many RAF pilots on the street? Navy mechanics?
I've had several mates that left the army and 2 of my kids served, the lad in the field in Afghan. Both out now and, thanksfully and touchwood, with good jobs.

There is a real danger that people just resign the army without a plan. There may be a vague notion of casual security work, or an assumption they will just get a job.

I used to joke to my lad that when he DID leave he needed something to go to, I didn't want him living in the woods with a bow and arrow! In the end it worked out fine, but he did resign once, then had to re-sign up as nothing came to fruition in time.

I suspect personally that these are the reasons - together with fact civvy lfe is so different and you have to do everything for yourself - why some end up homeless.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,884
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#9
Regarding professional soldiers who don't engage and their future after serving in the Army, I can talk about Italy. It's a couple of decades that military service is no more compulsory here and that the Italian Army is made by professional soldiers.

This professional army has fought only a real battle [Only one] and it wasn't a great epic battle [it was the "Bridges Battle" in Iraq, against the Mahdi Army].

For the rest, our Army has recorded a long series of minor skirmishes in Iraq and in Afghanistan [where Italian forces are still present].

In any case, we have lost 52 soldiers and a plane in Afghanistan.

This should say a lot about the situation in that country: the guerrilla is able to inflict losses also to forces which are not involved in intense fights.

So ... what are Italian professional soldiers going to do after leaving the Army?

Since the large majority of them don't engage, they come back without particular problems [psychological problems] and since they have got a profession [Italian Army make soldiers study something practical], they tend to find a job in not a long time.

In a country like Italy there aren't serious troubles in reintegrating veterans [overall because veterans have got no problems ...].
 
Feb 2016
4,300
Japan
#10
My friends little brother was in signals (when he wasn't being made to ski) and when he was leaving he was offered courses to give him qualifications. He has a good job now (oddly not to do with anything he trained for though).

Old school acquaintance was in engineers, and boxing for them. He struggled to find work at first before becoming a bouncer. But his parents supported him til he got work.