The US president decided to reinforce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq by another 20,000, counting on “the last powerful swoop” in this “great fight against evil.” According to him, the U.S. commanders have learned from Vietnam experience.
To win in the “war of ideologies,” the Bush Administration would even agree to a constructive dialog with Iran and Syria, the “outcast” nations, in addition to its allies – Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Meanwhile, Americans are getting more and more appalled at the high number of casualties in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Civilians tend to be most horrified by the fatalities tally, but the rate of injuries is no less frightening. Many medical losses result from the frequent bomb explosions, as severe wounds lead to lifelong disabilities.
According to recent Pentagon estimates, the US army’s total casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan exceed 26,000, including fatalities and medical losses; 25,000 have been lost in the Iraq campaign.
As many as 2,853 U.S. soldiers and officers have been killed since the Iraq conflict started in March 2003; ground troops lost 68% of that number, the marines, 29%, the navy, 2% and airborne troops, 1%.
Only 79.4% were killed in combat, while over 20% died of nonservice-connected injuries and diseases.
More than 21,000 U.S. troops were injured in Iraq, with ground troops accounting for 65% of that number, the marines, 32%, the navy, 2% and air forces, 1%.
The total number of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan exceeds 1,400.
Frustrated with the Iraq campaign, active duty servicemen urged the Congress to call for an immediate pull-out; it happened for the first time since the “global war” was waged on terrorism.
Iraq veterans, in turn, set up a political action committee of their own, Iraq Veterans for Progress. Their goal is to support election candidates who advocate the U.S. forces’ withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.
There is also a growing percentage of veterans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious injuries, leading to partial or full disability.
According to documents obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, 25 percent of veterans returning from the hostilities zone have filed disability compensation claims.
The document titled "Compensation and Pension Benefit Activity Among Veterans of the Global War on Terrorism" shows that 152,664 veterans filed disability claims after fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Of the more than 105,000 claims granted, records show that at least 1,500 veterans have been compensated as 100 percent disabled. On the whole, more than 566,000 soldiers and officers left active army ranks after serving in the so-called “hot spots,” most of them quitting service because of psychological trauma suffered in Afghanistan or Iraq.
International security experts of the Oxford Research Group predict another 30 years of the “War on Terror” in a recent analytical report. According to them, the United States will never consider withdrawal from “this important oil-bearing region,” “no matter how insecure the environment”. The U.S. troops cannot leave Iraq without Washington’s “complete reassessment of current policies” in that region.
The report said Bush’s "fundamental mistake" was to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein's regime by force, as it provided a "gift" to groups such as Al Qaida by "inserting 150,000 American troops into the heart of the Arab world as what is seen across the region as an occupying force".