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Washington Conceals US Casualties In Iraq
by David Walsh
World Socialist Web Site
February 5, 2004

The largest estimate of the number of medical evacuations from Iraq is to be found in a December 30 article by retired US Army Col. David Hackworth, "Saddam's in the slammer, so why are we on orange?"

Hackworth writes, "Even I...was staggered when a Pentagon source gave me a copy of a Nov. 30 dispatch showing that since George W. Bush unleashed the dogs of war, our armed forces have taken 14,000 casualties in Iraq - about the number of warriors in a line tank division." The former colonel adds that the figure "means we've lost the equivalent of a fighting division since March. At least 10 percent of the total number" of available personnel - 135,000 - "has been evacuated back to the USA!"

Lt. Col. Scott D. Ross of the US military's Transportation Command told Hackworth that as of Christmas his "outfit had evacuated 3,255 battle-injured casualties and 18,717 non-battle injuries," a total 21,972 servicemen and women. Ross, however, cautioned that his figure might include some of the same service members counted more than once.

The major categories of "non-battle" evacuations included orthopedic surgery, 3,907; general surgery, 1,995; internal medicine, 1,291; psychiatric, 1,167; neurology, 1,002; gynecological (mostly pregnancy-related), 491.

Hackworth concludes that "it's safe to say that, so far, somewhere between 14,000 and 22,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have been medically evacuated" from the war zone in Iraq.

"Treated like dogs"

Once back in the US, the injured are stored in dozens of military medical facilities around the country, their existence virtually ignored by the administration, their plight largely unreported by the media.

Until a public outcry improved matters, many wounded veterans, UPI reported in October, had to wait "weeks and months for proper medical help" at military facilities such as Fort Stewart in Georgia and were "being treated like dogs," according to one officer. The indifference of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to the fate of US servicemen and women is a part of their general contempt for the broad layers of the working population, Iraqi and American.

The deliberate obscuring of the human toll of the war and occupation in Iraq is an indication of considerable nervousness within the Bush administration. Despite the official claims of overwhelming popular support, the political and media establishment knows full well that opposition to this war is growing, and that an accurate picture of the war's devastating consequences would further turn the tide of public opinion.

Copyright 1998-2004 World Socialist Web Site. All rights reserved

Posted: February 9, 2004


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