Psychological Studies

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 260–268

Low Intensity Conflict Stress in Soldiers: Building Coping Skills and Resources


  • Monica Sharma
    • Department of Internal MedicineENR Memorial Veterans Hospital
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12646-011-0142-6

Cite this article as:
Sharma, S. & Sharma, M. Psychol Stud (2012) 57: 260. doi:10.1007/s12646-011-0142-6


With the conventional wars being rarer, low intensity conflict (LIC) operations have now become a norm. This new military environment is characterized by ambiguous and unpredictable situations, complex goals, invisible enemy combatants, political sensitivities, undefined restraints on weaponry tactics and associated multiple microstressors that make it highly stressful and cognitively demanding for soldiers. Considering LIC stress under a holistic / interactionistic paradigm, this review paper examines (i) the unique stressors of LIC operations and their impact on soldiers’ mental health and fitness, cognitive functioning, combat readiness and effective performance; (ii) preventive training programmes (Hardiness Training and Comprehensive Soldier Fitness) for developing and sustaining resilience; (iii) the central role of military leadership and structure as key components of combat stress control, unit cohesion, institutional support and other HR practices (e.g., command consultation, grievance redresssal, performance appraisal, communication, conflict resolution); and (iv) mental health services as coping resources and potential stress countermeasures such as psychological first aid, after-action debriefing, operational stress training, suicide prevention, treatment of stress casualities, help-seeking skills and self-care as part of preventive mental health training and post-trauma rehabilitation. The roles of both the skill-building and the stress-combating aspects of training, leadership, organizational support / HR practices and mental health services seem important as potential moderators of stress-strain relationship in LIC operations.


Low intensity conflict stressCopingHardinessTrainingComprehensive soldier fitnessOrganizational supportMental health servicesCombat stress controlSuicide preventionPost-trauma rehabilitation

Copyright information

© National Academy of Psychology (NAOP) India 2012