Casualty #'s in Iraq misstated on Veteran site

NY Times:

For the last few months, anyone who consulted the Veterans Affairs Department’s Web site to learn how many American troops had been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan would have found this number: 50,508.

But on Jan. 10, without explanation, the figure plummeted to 21,649.

Which number is correct? The answer depends on a larger question, the definition of wounded. If the term includes combat or “hostile” injuries inflicted by the enemy, the definition the Pentagon uses, the smaller number would be right.

But if it also applies to injuries from accidents like vehicle crashes and to mental and physical illnesses that developed in the war zone, the meaning that veterans’ groups favor, 50,508 would be accurate.

A spokesman for the veterans’ department, Matt Burns, said the change in the count was made simply to correct an error. Mr. Burns said the department posted the higher figure by mistake in November, when an employee who was updating the site inadvertently added noncombat injuries listed by the Defense Department. The Pentagon Web site had the correct total all along.

The previous total on the Web site was 18,586, strictly for combat injuries. Apparently, no one noticed the sudden leap.

...

No one disputes that more 50,000 troops have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan or that nonhostile injuries can be serious. Of the more than 3,000 deaths that have occurred, 600 have been listed as nonhostile.

The Pentagon generally directs reporters to www.defenselink.mil, which lists counts of the wounded and dead. The deaths are divided into hostile and nonhostile, but the injuries include just those “wounded in action.”

Another site on the Web, http ://siadapp.dior.whs.mil/personnel /CASUALTY/castop.htm, shows diseases and nonhostile injuries. It is the source of the higher counts.

...


Non combat casualties can be relevant when looking at man power levels, but including them in figures to pump up an antiwar message is a gross distortion. The anti war crowd uses these casualties which are at a historic low for any war of this duration as a prop for their anti war message. They care little about these brave men who have died for their country other than the political advantage they think they can gain by using their death. It is a ghoulish use of these men's sacrifice for a base purpose. It is another reason why I have no respect for these phony anti war pukes.

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