Photo: Flickr/The U.S. Army
The U.S. military withheld information of fatalities from a June 1 attack on a U.S. outpost near the Afghanistan-Pakistan as two Americans were killed, reports Joshua Partlow and Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post.Official reports stated that Afghan forces and coalition forces “successfully repelled” insurgents wearing suicide vests who attacked the Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khwost. The military said that 14 insurgents were killed and that there were “no reports of ISAF fatalities” at the time.
What actually happened, according to the Washington Post, was that insurgents “flattened the dining hall and post exchange” when they drove a truck bomb with about 1,500 pounds of explosives into the base. The blast killed two Americans —a 22-year-old soldier and a contractor — while seriously wounding about three dozen troops and damaging houses as far as two miles away.
From the Washington Post:
U.S. military officials said they did not try to play down the severity of the attack on the Salerno base. They said it is their long-standing policy to withhold information about wounded or injured troops.
When Robert Bales — the solider accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a pre-dawn shooting spree in two Afghan villages — said that he was upset that one of his buddies had his leg blown off two days before the massacre, the Pentagon responded that no American soldier in the area was recovering from the loss of a leg and that there was no indication that such a even bombing happened despite numerous eyewitness accounts.
So the wounded-troops policy has indeed been in effect, but deceptively withholding information about American fatalities would be a flagrant addition to it.
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