The Pentagon on Wednesday offered little information on the U.S. troops who suffered concussions during an Iranian missile attack earlier this month in Iraq, even as President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE described their injuries as “not very serious.”
Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, deputy commander for the U.S.-led mission against the Islamic State, said he thinks the number of service members who have been removed from Iraq for treatment of potential concussions or traumatic brain injuries is “in the teens.”
He added that symptoms were first reported “within 72 hours” of the attack.
Pentagon officials last week acknowledged that 11 service members “were treated for concussion symptoms” and removed from Iraq for further treatment and testing after the Jan. 8 attack on two Iraqi bases that house American personnel. Iranian missiles caused massive craters when they hit al-Asad air base.
“In the days following the attack, out of an abundance of caution, some service members were transported from Al Asad Air Base, Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, others were sent to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, for follow-on screening,” according to a Pentagon statement.
Defense Department officials then said late Tuesday that more troops were transferred to Germany for treatment, The Washington Post first reported.
But Trump on Wednesday sought to downplay the injuries of the U.S. service members in the Iranian missile attack, telling reporters that he didn’t “consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”
“I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say and I can report that it’s not very serious," Trump said at a press conference in Davos, Switzerland.
Asked if he considers traumatic brain injuries to be serious, Trump replied, “They told me about it numerous days later. You'd have to ask the Department of Defense.”
“I’ve seen what Iran has done with their roadside bombs to our troops," he added. "I’ve seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, in that war.”
Trump administration officials shortly after the missile attacks had said no one was injured.
Grynkewich also said Wednesday that he visited al-Asad in the days immediately after the strike and found that the missiles had landed tens of meters away from bunkers housing the U.S. troops.
In one case, a missile knocked over a T-wall — a concrete barrier meant to shield military members from strikes or explosions — which then fell onto a bunker where U.S. military personnel were, he said.
He added that while the missile strikes on the base lasted about an hour and a half, “people were in bunkers for hours after the last missile hit.”