Evaluating risks is not a strong suit for humans. We constantly fail to account for Black Swans (risks that we are not even aware exist), and we overemphasize trivial risks. The nature of fear itself is often the human mind being unable to rationally gauge the risk of a situation. While certain situations should cause fear to anyone (having a gun pointed at their face), others are often too remote to seriously consider. People are afraid of flying, afraid of harmless insects, afraid of open spaces, and afraid of confined spaces. In reality, the chances of any of these things causing harm are too remote to base decisions on; however, the human mind does not work that way. Telling someone that they are more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash just doesn’t help that person.
However, not all fears are that primal, and those fears might be able to be eased through a rational argument. Several of you worry about my safety, but I hope to convince you that you really needn’t worry.
The world is a dangerous place wherever you go, not just in Afghanistan. Combine that with the fact that I live in one of the more peaceful areas of the country, and it’s quite possible I am safer here than I am back in Germany.
Consider. In a one year deployment from 2009-10, when the Brigade deployed, we lost a single Soldier. Not in combat, but due to an accident. In an 18 month period in Germany subsequent to that, we lost 7 Soldiers. One to a hiking accident, one to a motorcycle accident, three in a car accident, and two suicides. During the same period, 1ACB, our predecessor unit here, did not lose a single Soldier in Afghanistan.
Even in the two weeks we’ve gotten here, we lost another Soldier in the rear detachment back in Germany (to a motorcycle accident). Unfortunately, bad things sometimes happen even to young people. That doesn’t make it easier, but it does force one to realistically consider the true dangers in life. The fact remains that we put ourselves at risk through the everyday circumstances of life. I removed many of these dangers from my life when I went down here. I no longer drink, I no longer drive a car, I know longer wander in foreign locales, unsure of where I am. Living in a confined environment such as Mez has eliminated several of the biggest risks to my life, while only imposing at best a marginal chance of death in combat.
I realize this won’t assuage everyone’s fears, particularly my parents’. I fear that mere words will never be enough to overcome such a visceral response. But hopefully these words bring some small measure of comfort to those who worry.