The psychological effect in each of these cases is for the psychiatrists, medical experts and ultimately the legal apparatus to decide. My concern is that the crimes demonstrate that the federal safety net in place to catch and treat sufferers is not effective, and that merely educating the soldiers themselves is not working. PTSD is a legitimate threat to anyone who has served in combat or experienced conditions of high stress. Knowing that, and mixing alcohol, loaded weapons and an aggravating situation is a recipe for disaster.
Everything done to date on the matter of misuse of force by private military companies has the whiff of politics – of too-little too-late and knee-jerk response. If the government and the Congress are to face up to this problem properly, they need to put in place a regime that creates hurdles for entry, based on a clear set of professional standards, and then enforce those standards through licensing and audits.
The problem here is not simply that Blackwater USA’s personnel killed three guards. Even more troubling is the fact that the State Department, in not addressing such incidents, was tacitly endorsing and therefore facilitating a culture among its security details that placed no premium on life.