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American IFOR Experience: Psychological Stressors in the Early Deployment Period.

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The American military has deployed about 20,000 troops for the international peacekeeping force known as IFOR Implementation Force in the former Yugoslavia. How well military personnel adapt to the psychological stressors of operations like this is of critical importance to mission success and to individual health and well-being. Yet, the US has little experience with such operations. It is necessary to develop a good understanding of the nature of operational stressors at various phases of peacekeeping missions in order to plan effective programs for preventing ill-effects of stress, and maintaining morale and mental health of troops and families. The U.S. Army Medical Research Unit-Germany Heidelberg is examining the nature and effects of psychological stressors on American forces over time. Highest stressors just prior to deployment reflect concerns about family welfare and safety, time to make needed preparations, and loss of educational and job advancement opportunities. In the early deployment phase, major stressors are crowded and austere living conditions, harsh weather, high workload, mission uncertainty and concern for families. Three-months into the operation, boredom, being away from home and family, and restrictions on movement and behavior emerge as major issues. For many troops, an intra-psychic conflict develops around the perceived imbalance between personal sacrifices required by the mission loss of family, freedoms, career development, and the importance of the overall mission and ones role in it. The relative dearth of meaningful professional daily work activities causes some to question the value of their investment, and leads to increased anger, frustration, guilt and depression.

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  • Psychology
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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