[Marxism] U.S. casualties in Iraq approach 10,000 mark...

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Sun Nov 30 00:13:40 MST 2003

Posted on Fri, Nov. 28, 2003 
Toll on U.S. troops in Iraq grows as wounded rolls approach 10,000
The Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. - (KRT) - 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.
Unlike 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.
Military officials 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.
"I 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.
"We 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."
The 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.
Virginia Stephanakis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army surgeon 
general, said there has been no effort to manipulate the casualty 
"I 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 them."
As 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.
Another 2,464 suffered nonbattle injuries, which would include 
everything from accidental gunshots to broken bones and vehicle 
accidents, Stephanakis said.
And 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 injuries.
They 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.
Another 504 troops were evacuated for treatment of psychiatric 
Stephanakis 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.
"I have no breakdown," she said. "Most are related to what people 
call combat stress, depression, anxiety."
The Pentagon is not expected to release any updated figures on 
noncombat wounded, sick and injured until early next month.
Some critics accuse the military of low-balling its figures to curb 
criticism of the war.
"I 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.
"There are ways of shaping numbers," Powell said. "You can do a 
lot just by omitting a few things now and then."
For 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.
Some 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 evacuated.
And Lessin said the reported number of troops treated for 
psychiatric problems does not include those who didn't seek 
treatment until they returned home.
Since 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 determined.
Stephanakis 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.
And some troops were taken to medical facilities in Europe for 
minor procedures not available in Iraq, Stephanakis said.
For example, 319 troops were evacuated for gynecological 
treatments, some of which may have been minor procedures, she 
"It's easier for us to evacuate them to Germany than to keep a 
gynecologist in Baghdad," Stephanakis said.
And although accidents have killed and seriously injured hundreds 
of troops in war-time Iraq, even in peace time, military accidents 
claim many lives.
In 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.
Even so, according to the Defense Department statistics, the death 
rate among troops that year was less than half the death rate in 
© 2003, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).

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