Chaplain Kathie: When they can’t see the enemy


When they can’t see the enemy

By Chaplain Kathie STAFF WRITER

“We don’t know who we’re fighting over there, who’s friendly and who isn’t,” he said. “They’re always watching us. We’re basically fighting blind.”

This was said by a wounded Marine after battle in Sangin Afghanistan. It is the nature of war in Afghanistan, what it was in Iraq and in Vietnam.

This is what they bring back home. They fight an enemy they can’t see just as they did in combat. PTSD is the enemy hidden in the shadows of their minds. It is as dangerous as a bomb waiting to explode but this one waits to claim every part of their lives, is more cunning than any human and more patient. The bombs they encounter in Afghanistan and Iraq are hidden by the enemy refusing to face the US forces. They explode hitting anyone nearby yet for the troops escaping the physical damage they have all the images frozen in their minds. While we count the dead and the wounded, there is no real way to count the true magnitude of the walking away wounded.

We talk about the rates of PTSD placed between one out of five or one out of three. Most experts use the 30% range but this figure is used for one traumatic event, not multiple incidences.

Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) usually results from prolonged exposure to a traumatic event or series thereof and is characterized by long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning.

Statistics regarding this illness indicate that approximately 7%-8% of people in the United States will likely develop PTSD in their lifetime, with the lifetime occurrence (prevalence) in combat veterans and rape victims ranging from 10% to as high as 30%. Somewhat higher rates of this disorder have been found to occur in African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans compared to Caucasians in the United States. Some of that difference is thought to be due to higher rates of dissociation soon before and after the traumatic event (peritraumatic), a tendency for individuals from minority ethnic groups to blame themselves, have less social support, and an increased perception of racism for those ethnic groups, as well as differences between how ethnic groups may express distress. In military populations, many of the differences have been found to be the result of increased exposure to combat at younger ages for minority groups. Other important facts about PTSD include the estimate of 5 million people who suffer from PTSD at any one time in the United States and the fact that women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

There is a higher number because the exposures and threat of more events is constant for them.

Marines pay a price trying to secure an Afghan hot spot
What happened to them in Sangin district of Helmand province shows the sacrifices in a campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban in a stronghold and helping extricate the U.S. from a decadelong war.

By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
January 22, 2011, 8:33 p.m.

Reporting from Camp Pendleton — Marines tell of snipers who fire from “murder holes” cut into mud-walled compounds. Fighters who lie in wait in trenches dug around rough farmhouses clustered together for protection. Farmers who seem to tip the Taliban to the outsiders’ every movement , often with signals that sound like birdcalls.

When the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, deployed to the Sangin district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province in late September, the British soldiers who had preceded them warned the Americans that the Taliban would be waiting nearly everywhere for a chance to kill them.

But the Marines, ordered to be more aggressive than the British had been, quickly learned that the Taliban wasn’t simply waiting.

In Sangin, the Taliban was coming after them.

In four years there, the British had lost more than 100 soldiers, about a third of all their nation’s losses in the war.

In four months, 24 Marines with the Camp Pendleton-based Three-Five have been killed.

More than 140 others have been wounded, some of them catastrophically, losing limbs and the futures they had imagined for themselves.

Go to the link above for the rest of this article on my blog so that you can have a better understanding that the enemy they fight in combat is not the only one they have to fight and they need us to fight this one with them.


  1. Combats like the Afgan campaign seldom must be conducted with military tactics and economy of force as objectives. The Afgan campaign,Iraq, Vietnam and other campaigns are conducted to play to political bases. What will the media write or say? The anti-war movement, will it be upset if there is an offensive? What will political parties and cash supporters say or how will they react? What about the views of allies?

    The military in Iraq prevailed to the extent that was achieved and had to overcome the numerous limatations put upon them by a timid “Don’t make the enemy mad” Congress, media and Excutive Branch.

    The effect of long term [limited]warfare on the line grunt is no consideration of politicians. In the Afgan campaign concerntration of force is not applied in an effective manner. The enemy has support bases and a secure rear area. Sure, the Paskistan military and drone strikes put some pressure on the enemy rear areas. Essentially, the enemy attacks when they want to, they bring us to battle at a place and time of their choosing and their supply lines are largely operated without interruption.

    Use the B-52. Carpet bomb enemy losgistics. Use our submarine forces! Let these highly trained very competent sailors kill the Talliban from an ocean launching point (and award them the Combat Action Ribbon too). Where there is as IED production site, kill it. Hunt down the enemy! Destroy them and their ability to wage war.


    Don’t wage war at all. Warfare is horrible, awful, terrible and has an impact on those who engage in it for the rest of their lives.

    The limited war being conducted in the Afgan campaign is a national disgrace. Once again the political leadership of the United States of America are keeping military forces (and the forces of our Allies)in combat – without the full force and support of the nation. A military draft – for each 18 year male – upon graduation from high school – with no defferments (O.K. the Amish and physically disabled i.e. wheel chair limited would be excepted)! Put everybody’s son on a rotatonal basis at an outpost where the enemy has excellent support, great fields of fire and no rules of engagement. Let corperate America’s sons, sons of Congress and the Executive and Judical Branches come home to Walher Reed and I bet one of two situations would occur.

    1. The war would be prosecuted quickly and successfully.


    2. It would end now!

    Not the way of the world folks. Hang on – this current chapter of the war on terror is going to last into the 2030’s (source ommitted). Want to truly support the troops. Let them pursue and kill the enemy – where they are located using all the assests of the nation. Stop paying lip service to them and really take care of them when they come home.

    Great article

    Best wishes

    Dale R. Suiter

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