Friday, February 02, 2007

Pentagon minimizing Iraq casualty rate

Molly Ivans Stand Up Against the Surge

Final column: Iraq

"Every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them, and that's why we're trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets. Bang pots and pans. Demand, 'Stop it, now!' "

Officially, more than 23,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in combat in Iraq. But more than double that number have fallen ill or been injured in what the Pentagon considers "non-hostile" action, a way of counting that critics say hides the war's full toll. If the Pentagon also counted soldiers who were hurt in crashes or circumstances not directly involving skirmishes with the enemy, and those so sick that they required air transport, the figure would come to about 50,000, the Pentagon's own figures show.

Either figure represents a historically high injury rate for Americans in any war, although both also are testament to the fact that military medical care is better than ever and saves more lives. . . But which figure of the wounded accurately reflects the war's human cost?. . .

Stephen Robinson, a Washington-based veterans advocate and former Army officer, said the Pentagon purposely misleads the public with its counting methods. For example, he said, the Pentagon has not counted some injuries from chain-reaction crashes as combat-related, even when the crashes resulted from an insurgent's attack on another vehicle in a convoy. By counting them as motor-vehicle accidents, Robinson said, the Pentagon avoids adding injuries to the war's combat toll. . .

A Pentagon spokesman, responding via e-mail, provided a list of injury classifications but did not respond to questions about crashes such as those cited by Robinson.

Harvard researcher Linda Bilmes, who with Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz has done research on the cost of the war, insists the 50,000-wounded figure is the most accurate. That's a ratio of 16 wounded service member for every death. "That's the highest killed-to-wounded ratio in U.S. history," she said in a research paper this month.



October 25, 2006
A small group of active-duty military members opposed to the war have created a Web site intended to collect thousands of signatures of other service members. People can submit their name, rank and duty station if they support statements denouncing the American invasion. "Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price," the Web site,, says. "It is time for U.S. troops to come home." The electronic grievances will be passed along to members of Congress, according to the Web site. Jonathan Hutto, a Navy seaman based in Norfolk, Va., who set up the Web site a month ago, said the group had collected 118 names and was trying to verify that they were legitimate service members.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Global warning



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