Last fall near the city of Ar Ramadi in Iraq, the strain of combat was beginning to overwhelm a platoon from an Army unit supporting infantry pursuing insurgents, says Lt. Col. Kathy Platoni, PsyD, an Army psychologist. The soldiers were worn down by a constant toll of attacks from insurgents, pushed close to the edge of panic by fear.
"They were afraid
to die, because so many of them had," Platoni says. The insurgents' most
frequent method of attack came via improvised explosive devices (IEDs), bombs
planted by insurgents on roads and highways used by U.S. forces, but other soldiers
had been killed or wounded by small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and
sniper bullets. "They watched their beloved fellow soldiers being blown
up all the time, burning to death right in front of them," she says.
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