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Field study of troops serving in Afghanistan

Field study of troops serving in Afghanistan

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Publicado porUSA TODAY
Joint Mental Health Advisory Team 7 report on Operation Enduring Freedom 2010, Afghanistan.
Joint Mental Health Advisory Team 7 report on Operation Enduring Freedom 2010, Afghanistan.

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Published by: USA TODAY on May 09, 2011
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Unit factors such as small-unit leadership (NCO and Officer), cohesion, and readiness are
directly related to unit well-being, and often playa role in attenuating the link between
deployment stressors and behavioral health outcomes (e.g., Bliese &Castro, 2003; Bliese,
2006). In other words, under demanding circumstances such as high levels of combat, effective
leadership can serve as a protective or buffering influence that reduces the amount of acute
stress Soldiers report (MHAT VI, OIF Report). Attenuating or buffering effects have been
detected in MHAT reports with sample sizes well over 1,000 (MHA T V and MHAT VI from OIF),
but are notoriously difficult to detect in smaller sample sizes «1000), because the effect sizes
associated with interactions tend to be small. Given this background, it is not surprising that no
interactive effects were observed between the unit factors and risk factors such as combat
exposure. Even without these interactive effects, however, it is valuable to examine how ratings
of these core unit factors vary across years.

Figure 7.1 contrasts across years the ratings of the two central unit factors (cohesion and
perceived unit readiness). For clarity in presentation, scale scores were dichotomized such that
any scale score above 3.0 was considered positive and any scale score below or including 3.0
was considered negative.

Figure 7.1: Unit Climate Variables

1 0 0 % ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ,

90%

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0..

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-.... -. Unit Cohesion

0 % + - - - - - - - - - ~ ; = = = = = = = = = ~ ~ = = = = = = = = ~ ~ - ~ ~ ~ · - ~ ~ · - ~ ~ - - ~ 4

2005

2007*

2009 Maneuver 2010

" Low sample size relative to other years

31

Figure 7.1.1 provides ratings for small-unit NCO and Officer leadership. In Figure 7.1.1, Officer
leadership values are not provided for 2005, because several core items were not included in
the 2005 survey. Ratings of Officer leadership in 2010 did not differ significantly from previous
years. Ratings of NCO leadership, however, were significantly higher than every year except
2007. As an example of positive NCO leadership, an E3 stated that the "platoon sergeant set
up a slide show showing us what our mission would be; what to expect once we got here; how
what we would be doing was going to benefit the war effort ... there is always a much bigger
picture that we don't always see."

Figure 7.1.1: Small-Unit Leadership

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I --+-. NCO Leadership

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2007*

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* Low sample size relative to other years

Overall, Figures 7.1 and 7.1.1 show that ratings of the core unit climate measures are
significantly higher in 2010 than in 2009 for every variable except perceptions of small-unit
Officer leadership. Implications of these findings will be discussed in more detail in section 9.

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