Brutalization of military personnel

Other Names:
Dehumanization of soldiers
Bullying among military personnel
Physical and mental abuse of soldiers

Soldiers are forced to carry on training in full battle dress, with a hat, rifle and pack. In the USA 11 servicemen died from heat exhaustion in the past decade and 400 were injured. Brutality and negligence by officers of the USSR military have claimed the lives of an estimated 15,000 soldiers in the period 1985-90. In 1993 it was claimed that in Russia some 5,000 soldiers a year die from what is termed "non-combat causes". Bullying by officers and sergeants, together with appalling living conditions, have been responsible for a very high level of suicides among recruits, with 3,900 dying in 1989 alone. It is claimed that thousands have died or been maimed because of negligence or dangerous exercises with live ammunition. Cruelty and bullying may be exacerbated by racial tensions between soldiers of different ethnic origin. In 1992, a former UK Artillery officer claimed he suffered a mental breakdown and attempted suicide after continuous abuse by 10 other colleagues, who, in one incident, tore his clothes off and tied him to a cannon at the barracks.

Most military units have a tradition of imposing some sort of informal initiation test on new recruits. This may range from efforts to get them drunk or to undertake some degrading task. A vicious element may be added if the process involves sexual humiliation, whether coating the genitals with some substance, performing with a specially hired prostitute, or the rare, but well-publicized, instances of buggery with a broomstick.

According to a 1991 report, around 4,000 young men die every year in the Russian army, not in conflict zones, but in barracks or exercises, either by direct violence or suicide.

Related Problems:
Extra-legal conscription
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST