Soldiers Staying In Touch With Family: Good or Bad?

Lindsay Mannering

soldier on phoneIn a New York Times article published this week, writer James Dao investigates how technology has changed warfare. But he's not talking about laser beams, or robots, or night-vision. He's talking about iPhones, Blackberries, and Facebook. The communication methods we all use domestically are seemingly just as prevalent in war zones.

Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have daily phone conversations with their wives, can BBM back and forth with their boyfriends, and can Sykpe with mom and dad.

It all comes at a price, though. Not only with service bills in the hundreds (or in some cases, tens of thousands) of dollars, but it could cost soldiers their lives.

Dao weighs the pros and cons of constant communication between a soldier and his or her family back home. In short, he says the benefits are that families can experience and share things like birthday parties and graduations in real-time -- contact can boost morale.

On the flip side, soldiers, who should be focused on battle for safety, find themselves worrying about the text they just received about the flooded basement or Jimmy's bad grades. With all the good news from home, the bad and mundane comes, too, which can cloud a soldiers mind, like it would anyone else's. Their clear minds however, can mean the difference between life and death.

It is hard to reconcile a solution here, or to come down strong on one side of the fence or the other. If I had a loved one serving abroad, of course I would want to talk to them as much as possible -- but not to the point where it's endangering their safety or their comrades. I understand what it's like to be distracted by a text or an email -- I don't think I can sit through a TV show or a dinner without checking my phone.

But that's TV and dinner! Not battle. Or surgery.

I can see it both ways. To stay in contact or to not stay in contact -- that is the question.

What's your opinion?

Photo via expertinfantry/Flickr

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