The Pentagon lists the number of soldiers wounded in combat in Iraq at more than 23,000, a tally often quoted by news agencies. But if one considers troops injured in “noncombat action,” a separate category that includes noncombat helicopter crash victims, the critically ill and others, the number doubles to about 50,000, leading critics to charge that the military is attempting to conceal the true human cost of the war.
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Washington—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 “nonhostile” 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. Even so, more than 3,000 American troops have died from wounds or injuries in Iraq, fighting a war that has dragged down President Bush’s approval ratings, cost Republicans control of Congress and prompted anti-war demonstrations such as the one in Washington on Saturday.