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IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN: American casualties total 500,000, counting injury and disease, writer claims

UstroopsiraqAP_450x250 Here's an eye-popping number:

A blogger and writer claims American military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan now exceed 500,000. 

That's if you count certain injuries and diseases including mental illness that he alleges the Department of Defense doesn't include in its official combat-related casualty toll in an effort to soften U.S. military losses in the wars and win funding for them from the Congress.

For example, cases of traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as a result of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are excluded from the official list of casualties. 

"Under this scheme, chronic injuries and many acute internal injuries such as hearing impairment, back injuries, mild traumatic brain injuries, mental health problems and a host of diseases suffered by personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are usually not counted as being war-related regardless of how debilitating they are," writes Matthew Nasuti in an article published on the Afghan news site and media organization Kabul Press. "They are either generally lumped into the category of 'non-hostile wounded' or simply not counted at all."

Masuti is a former Air Force captain and Los Angeles deputy city attorney who worked for the State Department in Iraq for a spell. He's now a critic of the U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The writer claims that 95% of injured soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen were not reported as casualties due to what he refers to as the Pentagon's "fudging the numbers" in a bid to win funding from American lawmakers to finance the wars.

"Wounded in action is narrowly defined to essentially be an injury directly caused by an adversary," he writes. "So called 'friendly fire' injuries and deaths would apparently not be counted. The emphasis is on acute injuries caused by enemy munitions which pierce or penetrate." 

He cites sources such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Navy to conclude that the more than 170,000 U.S. soldiers suffer from hearing damage, the 130,000 or more cases of milder brain injuries, and the 200,000 troops suffering from mental problems are left out of the casualty count.

If they were to be included in the Pentagon's official numbers of 5,500 troop deaths and 38,000 injuries, the total American military casualty toll in Iraq and Afghanistan would amount to well over 500,000.

And it doesn't end there. The 500,000 tally would increase significantly if one also added to the count what Nasuti claims are around 30,000 cases of serious disease and hundreds of accident injuries and suicides, among many other types of disease and injury-related military casualties.

Skeptics would maybe argue that a soldier suffering from a gastrointestinal disease from having eaten bad meals in Iraq and Afghanistan and minor roadway accident injuries do not belong in the tally along with troops who have been killed in ambushes with insurgents.

But Natusi writes that it's important not to leave these types of injuries out in order to show the real image of the war and its effects on U.S. troops.

Not only do the aforementioned injuries deserve to be formally recognized as casualties as a sign of respect for the soldiers serving in the battlefield, but leaving them out of the count distorts the overall toll, the writer concludes.

"These casualties are real and are a direct result of fighting two wars," he writes. "The soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who have suffered these combat injuries deserve to be recognized and the American people deserve a proper accounting of the mounting costs of their two seemingly endless wars. That accounting begins with an honest casualty count."

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: US troops patrol in Iraq. Credit: Associated Press. 

Comments () | Archives (13)

Iraq and Afghanistan casualties are very low compared to wars of the past. In WW I, the dead from separate battles eclipsed even the most overblown estimates of losses in Iraq and Afghanistan. Americans understand the true cost of the wars, and more importantly we understand the far higher cost should we chose not to fight them. Here are some sobering statistics of what our forefathers paid for the freedom we protect today:

1st Battle of the Somme, British lost 420,00, French lost 190,000, and the losing German side lost 600,000. No figures on wounded.

2nd Battle of the Somme, British lost 163,000, French lost 77,000, and the losing German side lost 230,000. No figures on wounded.

1st Battle of the Marne, British and French combined lost 250,000; the losing German side lost 300,000. No figures on wounded.

Battle of Tannenberg, the Russians lost more than 1 million, in 1 battle.

And so it goes.

I'm not sure who the Blogger, Matthew Nasuti (or is it Masuti) wants to impress, but he's not scaring anyone.

What moderator approved ih8zionists post? Talking about asleep at the switch...

Active duty gave to Ron Paul for a reason.

These are not "freedom fighters" they are terrorists for invading Iraq and Afghanistan and listening to their superiors when asked to kill. This is no different from the Nuremberg trials when the SS soldiers said "we were just obey order" how is this different from the US soldiers? at least the SS had a good reason to fight the dirty jews because of Dresden. what about US's story? 9/11? 9/11 was a self inflicted wound with the help of Israel. where is the proof? Black box recorders? pentagon cams? air flight cams? why didnt the backpacks burn in the explosion? why did bldg 7 explode? who planted the explosives in the twin towers? where was NORAD? so many questions not one answer has been proven. 9/11 was done by israel and US

Remember folks,keep an open mind.

This figure has already been widely reported by Columbia Professor and Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Professor Linda Bilmes, in their book "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict".

In fact, the existence of half a million veterans with medical conditions of one sort or another IS THE MAIN REASON why the Professors say the war will end up costing so much. The US taxpayer will be stuck with the bill for doctors care and paying disability compensation cash to half a million veterans -- for decades. Hey wake up, we should of thought about that gigantic expense BEFORE we invaded Iraq.

Congratulations to you for actually reporting this point, which has been totally ignored by the media despite the veterans advocate groups and the academics trying repeatedly to explain it.

When will we Americans realize the war on terror is a false war only created to make an imaginary enemy that will guarantee the war profiteers business indefinitely. When will we Americans realize that our government is no longer serving us but serving lobbies and special interest groups. When will we Americans realize that our government was best friends with Saddam, Taliban, Iran, Saudi and many other dictatorships that only existed because America helps keep them in power to serve the interest of big Oil and other profiteers?

Wake up already, it is time for a clean house and a new America, the one that is built on morals, ethics, care, freedom and compassion. Not built on greed, money, hate, and racism. I miss the old America, how things were, it was safe and people were kind. Now thanks to TV and bias media, homosexuality is flaunted as if it is the norm, killing and torture is legitimized and freedom of speech is muffled.

These wars have been a disgrace on so many fronts, it's ridiculous. On top of everything else, and no matter how selectively spun, these American casualty figures are absolutely sickening.

we are a resourceful nation fighting resourceful fighters in a combat zone in effect a guerrilla war (plug in counter insurrgency) and yes Iraq was a distraction, but we are there to keep the peace, the whole of the middle east is a war zone, not only afghanistan and our brave soldiers are in the thick of battle, putting their lives on the line for us Americans and World Government Allies. Losses are hard to deal with. We must narrow the focus of the mission objective. The taliban and alqaedans are gloating, saying 'we've lost the war' when in effect our war is still there, we didn't ask for 9/11, but for every action there is a reaction.

This is the blood bath I hoped to help US avoid when immediately after "9/11" and the loss of my fiancee (Sarah Miller Clark) on flight #77 I continuously admonished our government not to be "knee jerked" into war with a "stateless" enemy. Yes the Taliban was in Afghanistan, and Al Queda's braintrust was there, however it's army was global, not in size but in location. Invading Iraq was an un-necessary distraction,orchestrated to frame a the invasion as a "Just War."

Our strength at the time was, our strong military. Now it suffers from exhaustion, see-sawing morale issues, and waning support from the American public. Which is why I support the president's idea of a "pull out date" for our troops next year.

Lets leave these stateless enemies to fight weapons they can't see, or hear. Let us let those who consider us occupiers stand in their own breaches. Lets us deny them an enemy.

Contrary to the post of Rob-chemist, former Air Force captain Matthew Nasuti is right on the mark. Judged from the perspective of a worker's compensation claim, nearly everything that Nasuti describes would probably be the subject of a work injury award in the USA. The Defense Department criteria would never be acceptable before a worker's comp judge. That Nasuti is also an attorney adds credibility to his argument.

Political scientists, experts, think-tank gurus, and professional debaters may be sitting around scholarly tables, sipping their lattes, macchiattos, or whatever overly priced hot beverage is the cafe du jour for elitists, squaring off in arenas of formal methods of interactive and representational arguments (yes, I got that one from Wikipedia under Debate or debating). And somewhere else in a War College war room or, perhaps, at a certain undisclosed COIN safehouse, military historians, generals, and upper-brass strategists proffer statistics, battlefield reports, and intelligence as evidence for the case of simply bombing Afghanistan back into the Stone Age. Afterall, rebuilding a corrupt government which benefits an elusive and determined insurgency shouldn't be too difficult. Just look at what American occupational forces did in Iraq; a real bang-up job, indeed.

The foreign policy debacle which resembles an American giant haplessly struggling to free itself from a profoundly complex sandpit as scores of insurgent ants circle from all directions is unraveling and limping along at an alarmingly pathetic pace. Our enemies not only revel in our anguish but also bet the proverbial farm on American predictability. It's truly time for the White House to reevaluate its present position, underlying the need for genuine desire to accomodate the military and its leaders and in effect accept the reality that the nation is in a real-time war. It certainly is no picnic for both politician(s) and general(s) alike.

Yet, despite dwindling coalition confidence, primarily among the United Kingdom and France, American leaders (i.e. Obama Administration) are continuing to display an overt denial of the reality of said conflict, situation, fight against terrorism, or whatever one may want to call this war. There is no victory at hand because there is no decisive objective. What flag, ground or dictatorship are American forces striving to capture, claim, and terminate? Why has so much been spent over an exhausting 9-year stretch, where the military is doing its absolute best to win while the politicians (i.e. President Obama and the federal funky bunch) continue to focus on the political objectives of maintaining a righteous image in the eyes of voters and preserving future election victory.

The victory resides in consistent reduction of troops and casualties, a dignified exit from Afghanistan, and ongoing diplomatic, cultural, and democratic support of a struggling nation. There is no prize in an ongoing war that continues to usurp the patience and sacrifice of troops, coalition forces, and citizens with family members serving...over there. There is no prize in an extended trillion dollar budget for battles that bring American forces no closer to a decisive outcome other than likely death on foreign soil.

What it what it is. The reality of the situation is: America is seen as an occupational force rather than a nation-building entity, and American military leaders and the President need to accept this reality and thereby focus on an exit strategy. The war needs to end now. Assuming for argument sake that America defeats the insurgents and victoriously frees Afghanistan from the Taliban tyranny? The victory will not quell rampant corruption, opium production, and anti-American sentiment. Gone are the days of colonization and the Powell Doctrine no longer applies.

American forces should have been fighting from the get-go on the same playing field as the insurgents, meaning small Special Ops strike forces, more reliance on drones and ground intel, and ultimately a progressive weed-and-seed program with the local culture and government. General Stanley McChrystal made significant improvements and changes while fostering alliances and building continuing rapport in the region, despite the reduction of much needed air support for ground troops and his later comments in the Rolling Stone article cited as "poor judgment," resulting in his dismissal. However, even with McChrystal's innovative SOC leadership and experience there was still no bankable victory. Perhaps, there never was in what will ultimately be a Pandora-like quagmire of American undoing.

The focus should be on 2011 and a decisive exit.

It is fairly clear from his logic that Masuti is suffering from severe logical dementia. (1) We should could the number of folks who got sick or injured? His implicit assumption is that they would not have been injured or infected if not at war. If he bothered to read the news or actually think, he would know that people who are not at war, be it in training or as civilians, also get sick or injured. (2) He also assumes that for anyone who goes to war and shows hearing loss, etc., that it is the war's fault. As with (1), these effects happen to those in training, to civilians, etc. It is fairly clear that Masuti does not want a "fair accounting" as he claims, but rather wants to misuse data to make his point. Matsuti would clearly have felt right at home in Shrub's (Bush II) administration given his woeful misuse of science.


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