Combat Is Not Costless

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Killian Joyce Ngalibika Kalamba
EN 101/A
Professor Marsha Fausti

Combat is not costless

At first, this essay opened my eyes on the fact that the counterpart soldiers have to pay

for protecting their country is often more than losses of their lives; but now, after further

analysis, I realized that the survivors also had to pay a price for having fought for what

they believe in.

In the book excerpt “Combat High,” author Sebastian Junger points out both the costs

of a combat which took place in front of his eyes, and the ones of war in general. His

focus is not to let us know how much money wars or combat cost to governments and

politics, but to give us a sense of what combat is like as well as a sense of the

psychological and social effects of such armed fights on soldiers, and a sense of the Post-

war re-adjustment the main characters of combat have to go trough. Throughout his

essay, Junger gives a brief description of combat first, before analyzing the cheers and

how much the soldiers’ personality had been broken down. This analysis led him to

recognize both the obvious costs of war(such as the number of deaths), and the vaguer

ones(the effects of this hostile environment on soldiers).

In this attempt to bring a valley of the Kunar province(Afghanistan) under military

control, “nearly 50 soldiers have died carrying out” the orders given by society. In fact,

society assigned these men to this dangerous task, and they blindly followed

orders, engaging themselves in this combat which was obviously going to be costly.

Naturally, the first image that comes into people’s mind when they think about combat,

war or armed fights in general, is death. When people use their firepower against one

another, losses of lives, important or not(depending on the person interpreting the

numbers), always occur. This combat wasn’t an exception because according to the

numbers the author gives in his essay, a soldier was down each time they made a

hundred-yards progression. They probably reached their goals, but how many human

lives had to be sacrificed for that ?

In addition to the deaths, the men on this hilltop had to pay for their choices, using

another currency. In fact, Junger realized how much isolation and the life condition

society asked this platoon to live under had broken down these soldiers’ personality.

First, these men breathe, eat, think and dream combat. It’s “the game” they have been

trained for for months and finally been asked to play. They might experience a few

minutes of pure excitement and enjoyment but unfortunately it’s just temporary. Plus,

there is nothing left from there lives before they became a part of this fighting unit;

nothing that makes life back home worth living. Also, these men had needs, just as any

other man, and try to fulfill them by recreating every single relationship they need with

the means available to them but this doesn’t always suffice. There is nothing else to do

but combat, and this has tragic consequences. These men lost touch with other aspect of

their personality.

After having accomplish their duty, will come the time to go back home, the time to

re-enter into society. Every man in the platoon fears this moment. They are aware of the

fact that everybody will expect them to reintegrate society as if they had never been

soldiers. It will take them the strength to abandon their soldier’s mindset and get back

to a normal peaceful civilian’s one. But can they really not fail to meet everybody’s

expectations? They worry about this upcoming moment mainly because they fear the fact

that they might not have the same interests than they had before, or they might not find

something as exciting as running between bursts, as being in the heat of battle, as defy

death. The...
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