Alarming surge in suicide deaths among active-duty US troops alarms Pentagon
After two decades of unending wars in faraway territories, the US troops seem to have had enough, which is evident from an alarming surge in suicide deaths among them.
The disturbing trend has alarmed senior Pentagon officials, who say excessive demands for US military personnel around the world have become unsustainable, contributing to serious mental illnesses.
A senior US defense department official was quoted as saying by the USA Today that the unpredictability of life in the US military and the constant demand from commanders for overseas assignments by ships and warplanes, as well as the presence of ground troops, has frayed the force.
The US government has divided the world into different sections overseen by four-star officers. While demand for the central command, which comprises Afghanistan and Iraq, has reduced due to gradual draw-down, other commands have upped the ante, particularly with the rise of Chinese influence, the report noted.
While China falls under Indo-Pacific Command, an official quoted in the report said commanders in other parts of the world cite Chinese influence in their regions to justify the deployment of more forces.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has occasionally referred to China as the Pentagon's "pacing challenge," warning that the military needs to maintain its edge over Beijing. But, as it appears, the military personnel needed for the task are missing.
According to Gen. James McConville, the US army chief of staff, about 485,000 soldiers are on active duty, while the requirement is that of 540,000 to 550,000 soldiers.
Due to serious mental health issues, a large number of US soldiers have snatched their own lives in recent years. The long overseas missions in futile militaristic adventures are taking a heavy toll on them.