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US media on Fort Hood shootings

Thirteen people have been killed and 30 injured in a shooting at a military base in Texas. News of the shooting has dominated the US media.

flag flies at half mast in front of the Army"s III Corps headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas, Friday, Nov. 6, 2009
America has been mourning those who died in the shooting

Most newspapers focus their attention on the gunman and speculate about his possible motives for turning on his army colleagues. But the effects of the shootings on the military community in Fort Hood also feature prominently.

Ann Scott Tyson in The Washington Post looks at the growing strain multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the men and women stationed in Fort Hood, with suicide rates and post-traumatic stress disorder hitting record highs.

"The psychological toll on the all-volunteer force today is unprecedented, army officials say, acknowledging that they do not know how much the army can sustain before it breaks - making the health of the force a major consideration in President Obama's current deliberations over sending more US troops to Afghanistan."

Lyndy Kyzer, writing on Army Live, the official blog of the US Army, says that for the soldiers who "have already given so much, to endure such tragedy so close to home is truly tragic".

She hopes that there will be answers soon as the investigation progresses:

"This is the kind of tragedy that comes with many unanswered questions. We trust that in the coming days the Army Criminal Investigation Division, FBI and other federal agencies playing a role in the investigation will continue to provide details as they're able, and we'll continue to keep you updated."

But James Fallows writes in The Atlantic that these kind of mass shootings are always meaningless.

"One consequence of having been alive through a lot of modern American history is remembering a lot of mass shootings... In the saturation coverage right after the events, the "expert" talking heads are compelled to offer theories about the causes and consequences... Looking back, we can see that all such efforts are futile. The shootings never mean anything."

In its editorial, the Dallas Morning News cautions readers not to jump to furious and intemperate conclusions .

"Given that this country has been engaged in a war on Islamist terror for most of this decade, it's natural to focus on the killer's religion. ("I wish his name was Smith," an unidentified Army officer's wife told ABC News, and who wouldn't agree?) Be careful here, and let the FBI and military investigators do their careful and deliberate work. If there was any sort of conspiracy, they will find it - but don't assume the worst."

One Republican blogger writing on RedState.org questions not the why and how of the shooting but President Obama's response to it .

"No doubt people recall how the press was all over President Bush when the Secret Service kept him in that classroom on 9/11 and questioned his every move after that... Yesterday Obama waited hours before mentioning Fort Hood, and then it was using seemingly prepared remarks... Could Obama be any more dismissive toward people in uniform?", writes bk.

As Rick Klein points out on ABC News' The Note, the news out of Fort Hood, Texas, is a story that will consume all the political oxygen for a while .

"It will replace it with - depending on the circumstances that develop - fresh discussions about the physical and mental costs of war, of race and religion in the armed services, and of the nature of the sacrifices the nation asks of its troops."



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