Fifty service members have now been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, or TBI following a Jan. 8 ballistic missile attack by Iran that struck two Iraqi bases housing coalition troops, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.
The Pentagon said those figures could increase in the days ahead. Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesman, said 31 of the 50 service members diagnosed with TBI were treated in Iraq and returned to duty.
Eighteen service members have thus far been transported to Germany for further evaluation, Campbell said.
The Pentagon had initially reported zero casualties following Iran’s retaliatory missile attack following the U.S. decapitation strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Iran launched 16 ballistic missiles in January targeting two Iraqi air bases located in Erbil and al-Asad, with 11 missiles striking al-Asad.
On Friday, the Pentagon announced 34 service members were experiencing symptoms associated with concussions and TBI.
The Pentagon contends it has been transparent with informing the American people of U.S. casualties following the Iranian attack, arguing that TBI and concussion symptoms can manifest days after an attack.
“A lot of these symptoms, they are late developing,” Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman said Friday. “They manifest over a period of time.”
Though TBIs have been the most numerous injury among American troops throughout the War on Terror, the reporting of the injuries at al-Asad prompted Defense Secretary Mark Esper last week to order a review of how a chain of command is notified of injuries in general.
“The reporting on symptoms vs. diagnosis, the reporting on that — we needed to have more clarity,” Hoffman said.
“The Department of Defense is committed to providing the American people timely and accurate information about the care and treatment of our service members,” Campbell said.
Campbell said in an emailed statement that there were no other additional details regarding whether any other service members have been transported back to the U.S.
The department is committed to delivering programs and services intended to lead to the best possible outcomes for our service members who suffer any injury," Campbell said.
CNN first reported that 50 service members have now been diagnosed with TBI.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT