COMBAT STRESS CONTROL AND MENTAL HEALTH
SERVICES IN LOW INTENSITY CONFLICT
F-1. Introduction categories of LIC. For example, mental health
a. Low intensity conflicts may have brief • Provided support to soldiers in
periods of extreme violence or prolonged periods of
siege. These conditions can produce classic Vietnam.
“disaster shock” or battle fatigue. The operations • Were members of numerous
may even involve NBC threats which add the
psychological stressors of MOPP. However, the peacekeeping task forces assigned to the Middle
more usual stressors are those of frustration, East.
resentment, loneliness, and boredom. These • Organized stress management
stressors come from being in unfamiliar lands far
from home; among unfamiliar and perhaps hostile teams which provided assistance to soldiers,
people; and with rules of engagement that limit even civilians, and family members exposed to terrorist
self-defense. There is also often ready access to actions, or natural or man-made disasters.
drugs and alcohol. Enemy tactics attempt to
magnify these stressors and to provoke misconduct c. The following tables briefly describe a
stress reactions. These reactions can sap the Army’s number of approaches, principles, and techniques
and the national will. The HN may have rudi- used in the prevention and treatment of battle
mentary concepts and resources for psychiatric fatigue and stress reactions associated with LIC.
care, mental health promotion, and social services Mental health personnel have the capability to
delivery. These limitations could be the focus of assist commanders in implementing these
enhancing the HN government stability, but only if strategies.
cultural differences are fully taken into account.
F-2. Low Intensity Conflict Issues and Mental
Health Recommendations and Actions
b. Combat stress control and mental health
personnel have provided commanders with effective Tables F-1 through F-4 provide mental health
service in many previous LICs. They have and will recommendations for the four operational categories
continue to provide mental health support to all of LIC.
F-3. Mental Health Activities in Support of Low from adjustment reactions endemic psychiatric
Intensity Conflict Operations disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse.
a. Support for Insurgency and Counter- b. Combatting Terrorism. Stress manage-
insurgency. Mental health support is designed to ment teams are an integral part of the military's
meet specific missions. As the level of combat approach to helping personnel involved in a terrorist
intensity and the duration of the mission increase, situation. The team's mission is to support the rapid
combat stress related problems also increase. It is return to duty and to preclude post-traumatic stress
expected that battle fatigue rates will not normally disorders in captives and those persons closely
exceed 1:10 per wounded in action. Organic mental associated with a terrorist activity. This team is a
health staff use the combat stress principles of multidisciplinary group and should be on call to
proximity, immediacy, and expectancy in treating rapidly deploy to a selected site. Experiences with
battle fatigued soldiers. However, the main problem the bombing of the Beirut United States Marine
will be misconduct combat stress reactions. These Corps force, Transworld Airlines hyjacking, the
misconduct combat stress reactions can include Achille Lauro release, andother incidences have
substance abuse, commission of atrocities, and acts demonstrated the requirement for stress
of undiscipline. Misconduct combat stress reactions management teams. The treatment principles and
may seriously interfere with the LIC mission unless approaches parallel those used in the treatment of
prevented. It is expected that soldiers will suffer battle fatigue.
c. Peacekeeping Missions. Selected mental b. Command Consultations. Consultations
health staff should accompany US peacekeeping are available at all echelons.
task forces. Historically, these task forces require
reinforced organic logistics and HSS. Mental health c. Training. General program education,
staff have been used effectively to support a variety life-coping skills, recognition of stressors, and stress
of peacekeeping missions. Mental health officers can symptoms are appropriate topics.
assist commanders in completing predeployment
unit effectiveness surveys, provide training and d. After Action Debriefing. Debriefings are
consultation related to stress management and unit conducted in support of combat or special
cohesion, and complete mental health screenings operations, terrorist incidents, or other significant
and evaluations. During peacekeeping operations, actions.
the focus is on mental health assessment and
consultation. e. Treatment. Soldiers and families are
treated for problems associated with LIC.
d. Peacetime Contingencies. Mental health f. Evaluations. Mental health evaluations
support is designed to meet the unique needs of the to screen soldiers with maladaptive behaviors are
situation. Mental health personnel have a history of provided.
providing assistance during NEO and a variety of
disaster relief situations. Support is provided to g. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and
assist soldiers and their families or in some cases the Control Program. Staff expertise and support for
civilian population to minimize the effects of sudden the implementation of this program is provided.
separation or loss of loved ones. Mental health
expertise is most useful in reducing support or F-5. Mental Health Task Organization
emergency assistance personnel stress during times
of continuous operations. Crisis intervention and Mental health professionals are organic to combat
short-term treatment approaches are used. divisions. Commanders can task organize tables of
distribution and allowances (TDAs) mental health
staff to support LIC contingencies or activate
psychiatric (OM) teams. In the mid 1990s, the Army
F-4. Basic Mental Health Approaches During will field combat stress control detachments and
Low Intensity Conflict Operations companies. These units are part of the Medical
Force 2000 TOE organizations. Personnel will be
a. Unit Assessments. These are provided organized and trained to provide mental health
during predeployment or reconstitution. support across the spectrum of combat.