Troops evaluated for TBI following attack on Iraq base

by Tommy Grant

A number of American service members may have been injured in a Saturday attack on al-Asad airbase in Iraq, U.S. Central Command announced following the assault.

The rocket and ballistic missile barrage wounded at least one Iraqi service member, according to a CENTCOM statement, while a number of U.S. personnel are being evaluated for traumatic brain injuries, which can take some time to surface after an impact.

“Most of the missiles were intercepted by the base’s air defense systems while others impacted on the base,” the statement said.

The attack is one of more than 140 launched on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, shortly after the U.S. sent aircraft carriers, Air Force fighter squadrons and other troops to the Middle East following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Before Saturday’s attack, the Pentagon had counted 69 injured service members during that time period, with the most recent injuries coming from a Dec. 25 attack on al-Asad.

Iraq’s prime minister made headlines earlier this month calling for a drawdown of 2,500 troops who have been rotating into Iraq since late 2021, as part of the latest phase of the mission to defeat ISIS.

“There is a need to reorganize this relationship so that it is not a target or justification for any party, internal or foreign, to tamper with stability in Iraq and the region,” Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani told Reuters in an interview published Jan. 10.

U.S. troops in Iraq have faced periodic attacks from Iran-backed militias in recent years, but the intensity and frequency has picked up significantly since October.

The U.S. and Iraq announced in August that they would convene a military commission to assess a potential agreement that could change both the numbers of troops in Iraq as well as their mission, which has been to continue degrading ISIS’s capabilities both in Iraq and Syria.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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