“If the bad guys arrest you, there’s no question that they will behead you.”
Why are thousands of military translators left behind in Afghanistan?

“If the bad guys arrest you, there’s no question that they will behead you.”

Why are thousands of military translators left behind in Afghanistan?

More U.S. Troops Died by Suicide Than in Afghanistan Combat in 2012

After a decade of war, more servicepeople died by their own hand last year than were killed in action with the enemy. Watch Ray Suarez’s interview with Dr. psychiatrist and retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis; interview highlights below.

Q: Why now? Why is the suicide rate going up when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been winding down?

A: We have seen this before. We saw it 20 years ago in the first Gulf War. We even in some ways saw it after Vietnam. I mean, the issues of medical health, of personal stress, of family stress, in fact, go up after the actual fighting has stopped and the soldiers redeploy, they’re back in garrison, because the force is still under a lot of stress.

And we find now, in fact, that the military is about to get into this phase of downsizing. Probably 100,000 or so Army soldiers and Marines will be leaving the military. There are going to be budget cuts. And all these things are putting great burden on the leadership and great burden on the soldiers on the front lines.

And that accumulates and builds, and it ends up that you have got that group that, in fact, will have — will commit suicide as their expression of that stress.

Q: If someone reports they are having trouble, are they given long-term treatment, or are they removed from the service first?

A: Well, both. Interestingly, and sadly, over half the people who commit suicide have already seen mental health clinicians…These are tough problems. The soldiers have…really been affected by a number different stresses.

It’s not just the emotional stress of combat and seeing their fellow soldiers killed and maimed. They have been exposed to IED blasts, have concussions. Their sleep patterns are very disturbed, which causes in of itself some sort of psychiatric and psychological difficulties.

They’re exposed to toxins. They come home to family situations. And they’re young people. And young people have a lot of ups and downs. So there’s lots of different factors here. And no one is the real particular cause for these suicides.

Q: So, what should we be on the lookout for? Is there any way that’s reliable to keep an eye on people who may be in real trouble when they come back from active duty?

A: There’s not one real technique or tactic you can use. What we should recognize is that this is an epidemic, in the sense that it’s across the Army. The whole Army has been — and Marine Corps and the other services under — have been a lot of stress. And the focus, I think, is on changing the culture and making and bringing the spotlight on to the individual and everyone being concerned for the kinds of stresses that they’re showing and that may lead to the various problems.

I mean, there are problems with misconduct, with family abuse, with drug and alcohol abuse, with sexual assaults. There’s all sorts of things that really end up being the signals of these 10 years of war and stress on the individuals.”

Related:
Transcript
Video: The Wilderness After War — Living with PTSD 

Sergeant William Stacey left this letter to be read in the event of his death. He died in a bombing earlier this year in Afghanistan. It was his fourth deployment. 

Sergeant William Stacey left this letter to be read in the event of his death. He died in a bombing earlier this year in Afghanistan. It was his fourth deployment. 

Obama: Taliban Can Choose ‘Path to Peace’

President Obama’s full speech from Afghanistan (in case you missed it)

"

The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al-Qaeda.

This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.

"

— Excerpt of President Obama’s upcoming 7:30 p.m. ET speech from Afghanistan, as prepared for delivery. Stream the speech live.

UPDATE: We’ll be streaming President Obama’s address live from Afghanistan at 7:30 p.m. ET  right here. 
The two leaders signed the partnership agreement at the presidential palace in Kabul just after midnight local time.
"I’m here to affirm the bond between our two countries and to thank Americans and Afghans who have sacrificed so much over these last 10 years," Mr. Obama reportedly said. "There will be difficult days ahead … as we move forward I’m confident Afghan forces will grow stronger and the Afghan people will take control of their future."
Read more
—
President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign an agreement outlining the future U.S. role in Afghanistan after most NATO forces leave in 2014. 
Mr. Obama is in Kabul for a surprise visit to mark the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. 
The president plans to address the nation tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Details to come on tonight’s NewsHour

UPDATE: We’ll be streaming President Obama’s address live from Afghanistan at 7:30 p.m. ET  right here

The two leaders signed the partnership agreement at the presidential palace in Kabul just after midnight local time.

"I’m here to affirm the bond between our two countries and to thank Americans and Afghans who have sacrificed so much over these last 10 years," Mr. Obama reportedly said. "There will be difficult days ahead … as we move forward I’m confident Afghan forces will grow stronger and the Afghan people will take control of their future."

Read more

President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign an agreement outlining the future U.S. role in Afghanistan after most NATO forces leave in 2014. 

Mr. Obama is in Kabul for a surprise visit to mark the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. 

The president plans to address the nation tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Details to come on tonight’s NewsHour

"Just because somebody suffered [a traumatic brain] injury like that doesn’t mean they’re apt to walk off a base in the middle of the night and massacre a bunch of Afghans. I think that’s what the Army investigators are really trying to figure out. Was that a contributing factor? Was it these repeated deployments? Was it something else?"

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post explains to Judy Woodruff what we know about the U.S. soldier who allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday.

Tags: Afghanistan

On Sunday, an American Army staff sergeant allegedly left his base in southern Afghanistan, went into homes in a nearby village, and shot and killed at least 16 people including women and children.
The shootings occurred in Panjwai district in Kandahar province.
Read reactions to the fallout here

On Sunday, an American Army staff sergeant allegedly left his base in southern Afghanistan, went into homes in a nearby village, and shot and killed at least 16 people including women and children.

The shootings occurred in Panjwai district in Kandahar province.

Read reactions to the fallout here

35 percent of Afghans think their country is on the wrong track.
A survey asking Afghans about the future of their country suggests there’s a long way to go.
(PHOTO: Women surveying in North East Badakhshan, Afghanistan. Courtesy of The Asia Foundation.)

35 percent of Afghans think their country is on the wrong track.

A survey asking Afghans about the future of their country suggests there’s a long way to go.

(PHOTO: Women surveying in North East Badakhshan, Afghanistan. Courtesy of The Asia Foundation.)