Even I – and I deal with that beleaguered land seven days a week – 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.
We have the equivalent of five combat divisions plus support for a total of about 135,000 troops deployed in the Iraqi theater of operations, which means we’ve lost the equivalent of a fighting division since March. At least 10 percent of the total number of Joes and Jills available to the theater commander to fight or support the occupation effort have been evacuated back to the USA!
This is indeed a staggering statistic. The breakdown isn't much better:
Lt. Col. Scott D. Ross of the U.S. military's Transportation Command told me that as of Dec. 23, his outfit had evacuated 3,255 battle-injured casualties and 18,717 non-battle injuries.
Of the battle casualties, 473 died and 3,255 were wounded by hostile fire.
Following are the major categories of the non-battle evacuations:
Orthopedic surgery – 3,907
General surgery – 1,995
Internal medicine – 1,291
Psychiatric – 1,167
Neurology – 1,002
Gynecological – 491
Sources say that most of the gynecological evacuations are pregnancy-related, although the exact figure can’t be confirmed – Pentagon pregnancy counts are kept closer to the vest than the number of nuke warheads in the U.S. arsenal.
Ross cautioned that his total of 21,972 evacuees could be higher than other reports because “in some cases, the same service member may be counted more than once.”
The Pentagon has never won prizes for the accuracy of its reporting, but I think 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 Iraq to the USA.
Although I enjoyed Hackworth's book, About Face, I thought it seriously glossed over the reasons he got into trouble in Vietnam, and have always been suspicious about the “legend in his own mind” aspect of his writing. Despite all that, I have to admit he's been one of the most diligent reporters of the Iraq War — he actually gets facts.