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Combat and operational stress control


Combat and operational stress control (COSC) is a term in military operations that refers to a systematic approach for managing combat-related stress in service members. COSC aims to prevent, identify, and treat the psychological consequences of exposure to traumatic events during military operations. This includes providing mental health support, promoting resilience, and enhancing overall force readiness.

Key Takeaways

  1. Combat and operational stress control (COSC) involves managing the psychological and physical consequences of the battlefield and other military operations, aimed at maintaining or restoring optimal performance in personnel.
  2. It encompasses various support structures, prevention strategies, and treatment interventions in order to facilitate return to duty and promote long-term resilience in military personnel.
  3. COSC plays a crucial role in ensuring the readiness and effectiveness of military units by addressing the mental health needs and stress reactions of service members during training, deployment, or post-deployment phases.


Combat and operational stress control (COSC) is a crucial aspect of military operations because it addresses the various psychological and emotional challenges faced by service members during their deployments and combat situations.

The importance of COSC lies in its ability to identify, prevent, manage and treat stress-related disorders, helping to maintain the mental health and overall well-being of military personnel.

By ensuring the resilience and proper functioning of service members, COSC contributes to the effectiveness of military operations, preserves troop cohesion and morale, and ultimately, safeguards the readiness of the military force.

Timely and appropriate stress control measures not only aid in the personal recovery of affected soldiers, but also enable them to reintegrate successfully back into their units, families and communities, thus supporting the long-term health and stability of military forces.


Combat and operational stress control (COSC) plays a critical role in maintaining the psychological health and effectiveness of military personnel during highly demanding situations. Its primary purpose is to minimize the negative impact of stress on the performance, morale, and overall well-being of soldiers. Military operations often involve exposure to extreme conditions, life-threatening events, moral dilemmas, and extended periods of separation from family and loved ones.

These factors can significantly contribute to the development of stress-related problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. By implementing COSC strategies, military units enhance their service members’ resilience and ability to withstand the psychological challenges of modern warfare. COSC programs and services are designed to facilitate early identification, intervention, and treatment of stress-related issues, as well as prevent the escalation of these problems into long-term disorders.

Key components of COSC include training and education, leadership support, screening and assessment tools, and access to mental health resources. Through training and education, soldiers are taught to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress in themselves and their peers, as well as learn essential coping skills and stress management techniques. Leadership plays a pivotal role in fostering an environment that encourages open communication and active utilization of available mental health services.

By integrating COSC strategies into military operations, service members are better equipped to handle the psychological demands of their missions, leading to increased unit cohesion, improved decision-making, and ultimately, successful mission outcomes.

Examples of Combat and operational stress control

Battle of Okinawa (1945): The Battle of Okinawa was a critical World War II operation known for its extreme intensity, resulting in a high rate of operational and combat stress among the soldiers involved. The US military implemented various stress-control measures, such as rotating units in and out of combat, providing support from chaplains and mental health professionals, and offering rest and recuperation facilities to soldiers recovering from combat stress. This comprehensive approach was aimed at promoting psychological resilience and preventing the development of long-term psychological issues.

Vietnam War (1955-1975): The prolonged nature of the Vietnam War, coupled with the intense jungle warfare, resulted in high rates of combat stress among US forces. In response, the US Army deployed various Combat and Operational Stress Control (COSC) measures, including in-theatre treatment facilities, stress prevention training, and mental health resources. This approach aided in the treatment and recovery of service members, allowing them to return to duty and ensuring they received timely support for their psychological needs.

Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011): The prolonged conflict in Iraq and the high incidence of casualties caused significant combat and operational stress on US military personnel. To address this, the US Department of Defense implemented various COSC initiatives, such as the establishment of Combat Stress Control (CSC) teams to provide immediate mental health services in the field, the conduct of pre-deployment stress-management training, and the integration of stress-control personnel to help soldiers manage stressors during deployment. These initiatives aimed at fostering resilience, preventing long-term mental health issues, and ensuring the well-being of service members engaged in combat operations.

FAQ: Combat and Operational Stress Control

What is combat and operational stress control?

Combat and operational stress control (COSC) is a set of strategies, programs, and actions designed to maintain and improve the psychological readiness, well-being, and overall mental health of military personnel during and after operations, missions, or combat situations. It aims to minimize the harmful effects of stress and to foster resilience among service members.

Why is combat and operational stress control important?

COSC is crucial for ensuring the overall readiness and effectiveness of military personnel. High levels of stress can lead to poor decision-making, decreased unit cohesion, and increased vulnerability to mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. By addressing and mitigating the impact of combat and operational stress, COSC supports service members in maintaining emotional stability and optimal performance during their service.

What are the primary goals of combat and operational stress control?

The primary goals of COSC are to prevent, identify, and manage stress-related disorders, maintain or improve mental health, enhance mission readiness, and optimize unit performance. COSC strategies and programs seek to foster a positive command climate that supports mental health, promote resilience and coping skills, identify personnel at risk for stress-related problems, and provide appropriate interventions and support as needed.

What are some examples of combat and operational stress control strategies and programs?

Examples of COSC strategies and programs include pre-deployment training and education on stress management and coping skills, mental health screenings and assessments, development of unit cohesion and positive command climate, access to mental health professionals during deployment, post-deployment debriefings and reintegration support, and family support programs to help service members and their families cope with challenges related to military service.

How can military leaders support combat and operational stress control efforts?

Military leaders play a critical role in supporting COSC initiatives by promoting a command climate characterized by trust, open communication, and respect for the psychological well-being of all personnel. They can develop and encourage stress reduction and management strategies, facilitate access to mental health care and resources, and maintain a vigilant watch for signs of stress and mental health concerns among their subordinates. Providing guidance and support for service members and their families during difficult times is essential for successful stress control and overall mission readiness.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Mental health counseling
  • Resilience training
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Deployment health assessments

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Army: The official website of the United States Army provides information about Combat and Operational Stress Control programs, as well as other resources related to military service and mental health.
  • Navy Medicine: The official website of the United States Navy’s medical department offers insights on stress control techniques, resiliency programs, and mental health services for service members.
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): A government organization dedicated to research and education on mental health issues, including stress-related disorders in military personnel.
  • Ramstein Air Base: The official website of the Ramstein Air Base, a US Air Force installation in Germany, features information about their Combat and Operational Stress Control programs and other mental health resources for active-duty service members and their families.