Thursday, September 04, 2003
Note-I tried to publish this Tuesday but had problems with Blogger and Microsoft Word which, due to a heavy schedule, prevented any posting until today. At Blogger I was assisted by the very helpful Eric. For my Word problem I used a terrific new service called Tech24. With a chat dialogue box one can talk with a technician who can see the home computer screen. My Tech24 tech-type conquered the problem in short order! I highly recommend!
The technical difficulty allowed me to watch CNN and other alleged big media dance around the wounded number while totally ignoring the Pentagon’s defensive claim that they give wounded totals only “when asked”. Gee, CNN who didn’t ask until the Washington Post did this past Tuesday? And, with all this new talk of poor planning by the pre war Bushies, will anyone ever mention Colonel Joe Dowdy of the United States Marines ever again? Anyway, here’s what I wanted to say Tuesday:
Air evacuation of wounded soldier
Back on August 14th I wondered, in this blogspace, about the unreported numbers of US wounded in the Iraq II conflict. I had heard several grapevine reports from knowledgeable sources that the numbers of wounded were significant as were the injuries. Back on April 11th, when the President of the United States made his first and only hospital visit with soldiers wounded in Iraq, some media reported Pentagon figures that stated 343 US soldiers had been wounded in the conflict. At that time President Bush said:
"I want to hear our commanders say we have achieved the clear objectives that we have set out. That's when we will say this is over."
Then came the gay hoopla of the May 1st “Mission Accomplished” tailhook landing on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln where President Bush said of the jet with the safest flight record in the Navy fleet:
"Yes, I flew it…your [the troops] willingness to face danger for your country and for each other -- made this day possible."
On August 15th the people at CBS news, in my opinion still the finest of the old style broadcasters, aired a story about US wounded at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland outside Washington. In the story, wounded soldier David Pettigrew said:
"This hospital is overloaded with orthopedics because of things like this; because there're so many amputees coming back from Iraq."
The CBS effort went on to become the first US media since April to report a total of American wounded. It reported 450 American wounded since the President’s faux victory speech but failed to give a total to that date.
This morning the Washington Post acts like a major newspaper by reporting the numbers of wounded and the extent of their injuries. What is the total number, to date, of US wounded in Iraq? 1,124:
U.S. battlefield casualties in Iraq are increasing dramatically…almost 10 American troops a day now being officially declared "wounded in action”… attacks have become so commonplace, that U.S. Central Command usually issues news releases listing injuries only when the attacks kill one or more troops…Although Central Command keeps a running total of the wounded, it releases the number only when asked…giant C-17 transport jets arrive virtually every night at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, on medical evacuation missions. Since the war began, more than 6,000 service members have been flown back to the United States. The number includes the 1,124 wounded in action, 301 who received non-hostile injuries in vehicle accidents and other mishaps, and thousands who became physically or mentally ill.
The phrase thousands who became physically or mentally ill gives this reader pause. What in the heck does it mean?
Of the injuries, Walter Reed’s commanding general Major General Kevin C. Kiley said:
The orthopedic surgeons are very busy, and the nursing services are very busy, both in the intensive care units and on the wards," he said, explaining that there have been five or six instances in recent months when all of the hospital's 40 intensive care beds have been filled -- mostly with battlefield wounded.
Kiley said rocket-propelled grenades and mines can wound multiple troops at a time and cause "the kind of amputating damage that you don't necessarily see with a bullet wound to the arm or leg."
I hope the Washington Post plans to follow up many of the questions raised by the sad news of American casualties.
3 Bush Visits
September 13, 2001 President and first lady visit the Washington Hospital Center to see 11 military and civilian workers critically burned in the Pentagon attack.
January 24, 2003 President and first lady visit Walter Reed Medical Center to visit US soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.
April 11, 2003 President and first lady return to Walter Reed to visit soldiers wounded in Iraq.
Photos: Michael Lutzkey-Washington Post, Reuter's