Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume III, Number 44 December 7 - 13, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
on U.S. Troops in Iraq Grows as Wounded Rolls Approach 10,000
- Nearly 10,000 U.S. troops have been killed, wounded, injured or become ill
enough to require evacuation from Iraq since the war began, the equivalent of
almost one Army division, according to the Pentagon.
the more than 2,800 American fighting men and women logged by the Defense
Department as killed and wounded by weapons in Iraq, the numbers of injured and
sick have been more difficult to track, leading critics to accuse the military
of under-reporting casualty numbers.
deny they are fudging the numbers. But the latest figures show that 9,675 U.S.
troops have been killed, wounded, injured such as in accidents, or become sick
enough to require airlifting out of Iraq.
don't think even that is the whole story," said Nancy Lessin of Boston, the
mother of an Iraq war veteran and co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, a
group opposed to the war in Iraq.
really think there's an effort to hide the true cost in life, limb and the
mental health of our soldiers," Lessin said. "There's a larger picture
here of really trying to hide and obfuscate what's going on, and the wounded and
injured are part of it."
number of sick and injured is almost certainly substantially higher, because the
figures provided by the military last week include totals only through Oct. 30.
Stephanakis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army surgeon general, said there has
been no effort to manipulate the casualty statistics.
can reassure you that these are the best figures we have," Stephanakis
said. "We're certainly not playing with the numbers or trying to downplay
of Friday, 2,401 U.S. troops were listed as wounded in Iraq since the war began
in March. At least 424 have died in combat or in accidents.
2,464 suffered nonbattle injuries, which would include everything from
accidental gunshots to broken bones and vehicle accidents, Stephanakis said.
another 4,397 troops have been evacuated from Iraq to U.S. military hospitals -
usually in Germany - for treatment of medical problems not related to wounds or
include 290 treated for urological problems such as kidney stones - thought by
many soldiers to be caused by drinking large quantities of high-mineral bottled
water during the blistering summer in Iraq. Another 299 were treated for heart
problems and 249 for gastrointestinal illnesses.
504 troops were evacuated for treatment of psychiatric problems.
could not say how many of the psychiatric cases have been diagnosed as
post-traumatic stress disorder, a debilitating mental condition that can strike
troops who have been in combat or a war zone.
have no breakdown," she said. "Most are related to what people call
combat stress, depression, anxiety."
Pentagon is not expected to release any updated figures on noncombat wounded,
sick and injured until early next month.
critics accuse the military of low-balling its figures to curb criticism of the
think it's a general reluctance to be forthcoming," said Wilson
"Woody" Powell, a Korean War veteran and executive director of
Veterans for Peace, a St. Louis antiwar organization.
are ways of shaping numbers," Powell said. "You can do a lot just by
omitting a few things now and then."
example, critics said, the figures released by the Army do not include men and
women whose injuries or illnesses were treated in Iraq, but only those who
required transfer to medical facilities outside Iraq.
troops who have been wounded in bomb or mortar attacks have been awarded the
Purple Heart, but their wounds were not serious enough to require them to be
Lessin said the reported number of troops treated for psychiatric problems does
not include those who didn't seek treatment until they returned home.
April, the military says, at least 17 U.S. troops have committed suicide in
Iraq, and the cause of at least two dozen other noncombat deaths had not been
acknowledged the figures don't include every troop injury and illness from the
war in Iraq. But because the military medical system was designed to give only
enough treatment in Iraq to stabilize patients, then transfer them to facilities
in Europe or the United States, virtually every serious injury or illness is
included in the numbers, she said.
some troops were taken to medical facilities in Europe for minor procedures not
available in Iraq, Stephanakis said.
example, 319 troops were evacuated for gynecological treatments, some of which
may have been minor procedures, she said.
easier for us to evacuate them to Germany than to keep a gynecologist in
Baghdad," Stephanakis said.
although accidents have killed and seriously injured hundreds of troops in
war-time Iraq, even in peace time, military accidents claim many lives.
1999, the latest year for which statistics were available, 761 U.S. troops died
around the world out of a military population of about 1.4 million, according to
the Defense Department. Most of those deaths - 411 - were caused by accidents,
with illness claiming another 126 lives and self-inflicted wounds, 110.
so, according to the Defense Department statistics, the death rate among troops
that year was less than half the death rate in 1980.
November 28, 2003