DEFINITION OF COMBAT STRESS/COMBAT STRESS REACTIONS
a. Combat Stress. Combat stress is the stress (internal responses caused by
external forces) experienced by an individual in combat. Causes of such stress include
fear of death, fear of failure, other intense, painful emotions such as grief and guilt,
uncertainty, boredom, worries about what is happening back home, and the many
physical and mental demands of combat duties.
b. Combat Stress Reactions. Combat stress reactions refer to the individual's
responses to the stresses he experiences in combat. Like other stress reactions, these
can be either positive (contributing to the success of the mission and the survival of the
individual soldier), partly positive (contributing to either the success of the mission or to
survival, but not to both), or negative (contributing to failure of the mission and the death
of the individual). The term "combat stress reactions" is a general term that covers a
wide range of behaviors from highly positive to totally negative.
c. Range of Combat Stress Reactions. There are a wide range of combat
stress reactions. Because there are so many causes of stress in combat, soldiers
generally stay near the middle of the range most of the time. Soldiers are confident but
afraid and angry, strong and alert yet feeling butterflies in their stomachs. But if soldiers
believe that the enemy strength is too great, that their leaders, buddies, and supporting
units are unreliable, that their nerve is failing, their stress begins to feed upon itself until
these soldiers become ineffective.
d. Battle Fatigue and Combat Stress Reactions. Battle fatigue is a
deliberately nondescript term for a wide variety of behavioral, mental, and physical
symptoms which are possible in any soldier in a combat environment. The causes of
battle fatigue are the many stresses of combat. Combat stress reactions such as
hyperalertness, fear, anxiety, carelessness, loss of confidence, depression, and total
exhaustion can be part of battle fatigue. On the other hand, "improper behavior"
combat stress reactions are not called battle fatigue. "Improper behaviors" include
malingerers (those who deliberately fake illness or injury to escape from duty) and those
who inflict wounds on themselves. Such behaviors are not classified as battle fatigue.
CAUSES OF COMBAT STRESS REACTIONS
Specific causes of combat stress reactions include the following:
b. Intensity of battle.
d. Tactical situation.