The content of the report is not as shocking as its source: the U.S. Army itself. ABC News investigates:
After nine years of war, the U.S. Army is showing signs of stress because of repeated deployments and inadequate support for soldiers when they return, according to a blunt internal report released today. It blasts the Army’s leadership for failing to recognize the problem.
The figures in recent years are staggering.
The number of soldiers committing suicide has increased since 2004, surpassing civilian rates in 2008. Use of prescription drugs has tripled in the past five years; prescription amphetamines use has doubled between 2006 and 2009. One third of soldiers take at least one prescription drug and 14 percent of soldiers are on some form of powerful painkiller.
Crime is rising every year as well. Each year has seen an increase of 5,000 misdemeanors over the previous year, meaning soldiers are expected to commit around 55,000 such crimes in 2010. Sexual offenses have tripled since 2003. Domestic abuse is up 177 percent in the past six years.
Non-combat deaths among the force have increased steadily since 2001 to the point where the report says that in 2009 more soldiers died as a result of accidents and “high risk behavior” than at war.
“Simply stated, we are often more dangerous to ourselves than the enemy,” the report says.
The scathing assessment, commissioned by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli, blames Army leadership for failing to realize the deteriorating trend.
“The Army realized too late that there was a very serious problem,” it says.
The study also faults Army leaders for failing to enforce discipline after violations, leading to repeat offenders whose problems spiral out of control.
“Soldiers are taking more and more risks, and gaps in policies are allowing it to happen. Ultimately, it poses the question: ‘Where has the Army’s leadership in garrison gone?’” the report asks, using the term for the period when soldiers are stationed at home between deployments…
[continues at ABC News]