One-Third Of US Casualties In Afghanistan And Iraq Were Non-Combat Accidents

Bullet Points

The U.S. military's mishap problem is older than you probably realized: Of the nearly 30,000 U.S. service members wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq during a 12-year period at the beginning of the forever wars, a full third were injured in non-combat incidents, according to a new study — and that proportion is only expected to grow in the coming years.

  • Shit happens — a lot: An analysis of Department of Defense Trauma Registry data published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery found that 34.1% of total casualties and 11.5% percent of all deaths from January 2003 to December 2014 occurred in non-combat conditions.
  • Unintentional falls: The largest proportion of so-called "non-battle injuries" (NBIs) occurred due to, well, falling. Some 1,283 service members died from unintentional falls, followed by car crashes and machinery or equipment accidents.
  • This isn't because of the sequester: Lawmakers have pointed to the 2011 Budget Control Act as a root cause of the Class A mishap epidemic that has rankled the Air Force and Navy in recent months — and 66.3% and 48.3% of those services' respective casualties were due to NBIs. But the time span of the report covers nearly a decade in the pre-freeze spending environment, too.
  • It's only going to get worse: Based on their analysis, the researchers posit that the proportion of NIBs among all U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan will grow to 41% by 2022 — and that's assuming "stable battlefield conditions," an assessment that lays the burden of the U.S. military's recent mishap crisis on the sequester.

On the flipside, lawmakers took a moment last month to set up an independent commission to get to bottom of the DoD's worsening mishap crisis. Those results will likely arrive in 2022. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Seven of the twelve Soldiers participating in the Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Level 2 course at Fort Indiantown Gap practice folding the flag April 25. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zane Craig)

Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.

Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.

Read More Show Less

For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.

"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.

In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.

"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."

Read More Show Less
Defense Secretary Mark Esper (Associated Press photo)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.

"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."

Read More Show Less

Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.

Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.

"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'

Read More Show Less

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.

Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.

Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.

Read More Show Less