After six months in Afghanistan, soldiers like to drink—a lot

“Decompression” in Cyprus means booze, bar fights and the occasional fall from a balcony

When Canadian soldiers finish a tour of duty in Afghanistan, they make a brief stop on the way home: the island paradise of Cyprus for a week-long “decompression.” Translation: a seven-day booze fest that often turns violent. According to new documents released under the Access to Information Act, military members have spent a total of 150 days in Cyprus since the fall of 2006, and during that time Canadian soldiers have been involved in more than 100 incidents that required the intervention of military police. About 30 of these incidents were of a violent nature, and at least 50 were caused by “intoxicated” troops. At least four times, Canadian soldiers were attacked or threatened by local groups sometimes armed with guns. In one July 2007 case, a soldier found himself with a 9-mm pistol pointed at his face after he had tried to locate reinforcements in a bar to help one of his comrades who was fighting with street bouncers. A more recent incident (March 27, 2009) is described this way: “In the middle of the afternoon, a soldier suffered a one-story fall from the balcony of his hotel room to the ground floor. He was injured. The report stated that he was so ‘intoxicated’ that he either fell by accident or on purpose. He also lost his wallet.”