Pentagon Understates War Casualties, Says Veterans Group
By Joel Wendland
The Pentagon is intentionally underreporting US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a recent report by veterans' advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense.
The Pentagon's most recent public reports, which can be found in the media, say that 3,587 US troops have been killed and 26,350 have been wounded in Iraq.
In Afghanistan, says the Pentagon, 403 US troops have been killed since 2001, and 1,342 have been wounded.
Thus, the Pentagon's public accounting gives the impression that there have been less than 32,000 casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But documents obtained by Veterans for Common Sense through Freedom of Information Act requests reveal the number of casualties to be much higher.
According to these documents, as of June 30, 2007, US casualties in Afghanistan totaled closer to 7,500 (killed, wounded, injured, and medically evacuated). In Iraq, the total is almost 58,000.
Altogether, the report shows that US casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, between 2001 and June 30, 2007, total 65,278. There is a difference between the Pentagon's publicized casualty reports and reality of almost 34,000.
In the month of June alone, despite a surge ordered by President Bush last January to crack down on the civil war in Iraq, total US casualties mounted to over 1,660 killed, wounded, and medically evacuated.
Veterans for Common Sense attributes the discrepancy to the Pentagon's refusal to include medically evacuated troops for injuries and illnesses in its "wounded" reports.
The purpose of this new distinction is to lower the numbers in Pentagon casualties reports in order to give the impression that "progress" in the war is being made and that harm to US forces inflicted in the war zone is far lower than reality, states Veterans for Common Sense.
These revelations come on the heels of another recent Veterans for Common Sense report indicating that about 180,000 war veterans have filed disability claims with the Department of Veterans' Affairs since 2001.
--Joel Wendland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org