- A total of 64 US service members have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries in the wake of the Iranian missile attack on US forces in Iraq earlier this month, the Pentagon revealed Thursday evening, confirming an earlier CNN report.
- President Donald Trump initially reported that “no Americans were harmed,” but subsequent reports revealed that troops were injured in the attack, largely with concussions from the missile blasts.
- The number of injured service members has steadily risen from zero to 11 to 34 to 50 to the current 64. “The numbers are growing,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said at the Pentagon Thursday.
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The number of US service members diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries in the wake of the Iranian missile attack on US and coalition forces in Iraq earlier this month has risen to 64, almost six times the figure that was reported a week after the president said “no Americans were harmed,” the Pentagon revealed Thursday evening, confirming an earlier CNN report.
In retaliation for the US drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, the Iranian military launched a barrage of more than a dozen ballistic missiles at US forces serving in Iraq. No injuries were initially reported.
On Jan. 16, US Central Command revealed that “while no US service members were killed” in this missile attack on Al-Asad Air Base, “several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed.” A pressure wave from an explosion can injure organs like the brain and spinal cord at close enough range.
At that time, the number affected was 11. CENTCOM revealed that the service members were taken to facilities in Germany and Kuwait for additional screening and treatment.
On Jan. 24, the Pentagon revealed that the number of US service members who had been diagnosed with concussions, a mild traumatic brain injury, had risen to 34.
Two days earlier, President Donald Trump, who initially said there were no injuries, appeared to downplay the injuries suffered by US military personnel in the attack.
“I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say and I can report that it’s not very serious,” he said, adding, “I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Thursday morning that the head injuries suffered in the attack were described as non-serious injuries, the least serious of DoD’s categories for injury reports.
As for how many service members have been affected, he added that the “number is growing.”
CNN, citing Pentagon officials, reported Tuesday that 50 US service members had been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries, 16 more than had been announced days earlier. That total affected has since risen by 14, bringing the total to 64.
Thirty-nine service members have already returned to duty, the Department of Defence said Thursday. Eight have been evacuated to the US, and nine others are awaiting transport to the US. Others are still being assessed and treated in Iraq, Kuwait, and Germany.
“We do everything we can to identify, treat and help our service members recover and return to duty,” Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said Thursday morning.
“We’ll continue to monitor them the rest of their lives and continue to provide whatever treatment is necessary,” Milley said of affected service members. “We take great pride in the fact that these are our own and we’re going to take care of them.”
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