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Reporter Q&A

KUOW reporter Patricia Murphy and Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton took questions on Tuesday, Feb. 15, about their reporting for this project. Read the questions and answers.

The Weight Of War

A Seattle Times/KUOW Report

Army Pfc. Ronald Craig (right) and fellow Soldiers in 3rd Platoon, Combat Company, 1-32 Inantry, return from a two week patrol in Afghanistan. Photo by Army Spc. Jon H. Arguello.

Despite many technological advances in war fighting, an age old conundrum has dogged the military. How do you lighten the heavy loads carried by the troops while giving them enough protection and equipment needed to fight a war?

The Seattle Times Reports:

Roman Legionnaires on the march carried 80–pound loads on long, spiked stakes slung across their shoulders. When US Army Rangers invaded the island of Grenada in 1983, the average load carried by each man was 167 pounds. One soldier on that mission compared himself to a slow moving turtle, fearful his exhaustion would get him killed because he couldn't run. Currently, soldiers and marines deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan routinely carry loads from 60 to more than 100 pounds.

Illustration of a soldier's combat load (PDF), courtesy The Seattle Times.

In this two–part series, we'll look at the heavy loads carried by troops. We'll explore the increase in chronic orthopedic injuries as a result of gear load, the efforts to lighten the load and the changes in pain care to help injured soldiers and marines.

"The Weight Of War" was reported and produced by Patricia Murphy and edited by Jim Gates. This series is a collaboration with The Seattle Times with additional reporting provided by Seattle Times Staff Reporter Hal Bernton and Assistant Managing Editor Jim Simon.

Spc. Joseph Chroniger, who has bone spurs in his neck, has noticed some relief after acupuncture from Dr. Shashi Kumar at Madigan Army Medical Center. (Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times)

The Weight Of War: Protection Vs. Mobility

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In the first part of our series we'll look at the current gear load of US forces. We'll explore the advantages and disadvantages of body armor as well as the increasing number of costly and chronic musculoskeletal injuries that are afflicting service members.

Listen to this story spacer An Army report recommended the use of alternatives to pain drugs, including chiropractic care, massage and acupuncture. Here, Dr. Frank Lawler gives Spc. David Ash chiropractic treatment. (Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times)

The Weight Of War: New Efforts To Treat Pain

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chronic orthopedic injuries associated with gear load are on the rise. In the second part of our series, we'll look at the new and alternative therapies that the military is using to better treat chronic pain.

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Seattle Times Video: The Gear Soldiers Carry

Kassidy Pentland, who works as a line clerk at Joint Base Lewis–McChord, shows the equipment that soldiers at the base are issued: watch this video on