|How dangerous is being a soldier?|
This is the most commonly asked question at BeforeYouSignUp.info
A word about risk
The risk of being a soldier can't be known exactly because:
Every job in the army carries some level of risk. The most dangerous job in the army in 2012 is to be a rifleman in the infantry, where the risk of death or injury is several times higher than the rest of the armed forces on average; this is because these are front-line troops in Afghanistan. There are a few other jobs which are very dangerous - for example, searching for and dismantling explosive devices. It is possible to join jobs in the army that carry less risk, but no job is without some risk.
Most common combat risks in Iraq and Afghanistan
Researchers asked armed forces personnel who had been deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanstan which threats they most commonly faced. This is what they found:
For those in front-line roles like the infantry these experiences would be more common; in support roles like logistics, less common.
Risk of death
In 2009 there were 106,380 personnel in the army; 98 died as a result of their posting to Afghanistan. 71 of these deaths were from one part of the army - the infantry. The risk of death for infantry personnel has been over 12 times higher than the average for the rest of the armed forces (based on the number of infantry fatalities in Afghanistan since the war began). Apart from the infantry, the mortality rate in the armed forces is similar to that in the population as a whole (because armed forces are fitter and less likely to suffer from disease).
Since 2009 the risk of death in Afghanistan has fallen slightly, but this is no guide to the future.
Risk of serious injury
The risk of serious injury in any armed forces is normally two or three times higher than the risk of death. In 2009, 508 armed forces personnel were wounded in action in Afghanistan, 158 of these were seriously or very seriously injured. Of course, there is risk of serious injury in some civilian careers as well.
Risk of psychological harm
The risk of psychological harm in the army is higher than the risk of physical injury or death. A report in 2006 showed that about 4% of armed forces personnel showed symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (sometimes called 'shell-shock'). The rate was higher among troops with combat duties (6%) than those without (3%). There are several other psychological problems that are linked to exposure to warfare; these include depression, drug-dependence, alcoholism and relationship problems. See the article on combat stress.
Most soldiers do not experience serious physical or mental harm as a result of their work but for those that do, life may never be the same again. These are risks that you need to consider before enlisting.
[Sources: Defence Analytical Services Agency, 2010; Ministry of Defence, 2010; Lancet, 2007 and 2010]
|Last Updated on Friday, 19 October 2012 21:31|