CHAPTER 1: Overview of Combat Stress Control
This chapter presents the concept and scope of combat stress
control. It reviews historical experiences with stress casualties in
different intensities of conflict and looks et the potential stressors
in high-tech battles. It lists the responsibilities for combat stress
control of all junior (direct) and senior (organizational) leaders,
staffs, chaplains, and health care providers. It also discusses the
responsibilities of specialized combat stress control/ mental health
Battle fatigue and misconduct stress behaviors are preventable
with strong effective leadership.
1-2. Combat Stress Control
a. Controlling combat stress is often the deciding factor-the
difference between victory and defeat-in all forms of human conflict.
Stressors are a fact of combat and soldiers must face them. It is
controlled combat stress (when properly focused by training, unit
cohesion, and leadership) that gives soldiers the necessary alertness,
strength, and endurance to accomplish their mission. Controlled combat
stress can call forth stress reactions of loyalty, selflessness, and
heroism. Conversely, uncontrolled combat stress causes erratic or
harmful behavior that disrupts or interferes with accomplishment of
the unit mission. Uncontrolled combat stress could impair mission
performance and may bring disgrace, disaster, and defeat.
b. The art of war aims to impose so much stress on the enemy
soldiers that they lose their will to fight. Both sides try to do this
and at times accept severe stress themselves in order to inflict
greater stress on the enemy. To win, combat stress must be controlled.
c. The word control has been chosen deliberately to focus thinking
and action within the Army. Since the same word may have contrasting
connotations to different people, it is important to make its intended
meaning clear. The word control is used (rather than the word
management) to emphasize the active steps which leaders, supporting
personnel, and individual soldiers must take to keep stress within the
acceptable range. This does not mean that control and management are
mutually exclusive terms. Management is, by definition, the exercise
of control. Within common usage, however, and especially within Army
usage, management has the connotation of being a somewhat detached,
number-driven, higher echelon process rather than a direct,
inspirational, leadership process.
d. Stress is the body's and mind's process for dealing with
uncertain change and danger. Elimination of stress is both impossible
and undesirable in either the Army's combat or peacetime missions.
e. The objectives of stress control are as follows:
(1) To keep stress within acceptable limits for mission
performance and to achieve the ideal (optimal) level of stress when
(2) To return stress to acceptable limits when it becomes
(3) To progressively increase tolerance to stress so that
soldiers can endure and function under the extreme stress which is
unavoidable in combat.
f. How can stress be controlled? Stress is controlled in the same
ways other complex processes are controlled.
(1) Monitor the signs of stress and recognize when and if they
change. To be effective, this recognition should come well before
the stress becomes disruptive and causes dysfunction.
(2) Identify and monitor the causes of stress; that is, the
stressors. Stress and stressors are defined in detail in Chapter 2.
(3) Classify the stressors into those which can be controlled
(increased, decreased, avoided, or otherwise changed) versus those
which cannot be controlled.
(4) Control those stressors which can be changed by focusing the
stress in the desired direction, either up or down.
(5) Help soldiers adapt to the stressors which cannot be changed.
(6) Learn (and teach) how to directly lower (or raise) the stress
level within the individual soldier as needed, at specific times, in