At least 11 US service members have been flown out of Iraq for medical care following the Jan. 7 Iranian ballistic missile attack on Al Asad AB.
Despite initial claims that there were no American injuries in the attack, US Central Command and senior Pentagon officials said many Americans were evaluated for concussion-like symptoms after 11 ballistic missiles impacted the flightline and multiple buildings inside the sprawling base. Eight service members were taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany to receive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and three more were taken to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait for further evaluation, according to CENTCOM.
“The vast majority showed no sign of concussive injury and returned to duty,” the Pentagon said in a Jan. 17 statement. “However, some displayed concussion-like symptoms days after the attacks and reported them to their chain of command. … The Pentagon leadership was notified of the injuries yesterday. The Commander in Iraq met all reporting requirements and took the appropriate steps to ensure the service members received the proper level of care.”
The Pentagon said the service members were flown out of Iraq in “the days following the attack.” CENTCOM said the initial assessment for traumatic brain injury is standard procedure, and the 11 personnel will return to the base once they are “deemed fit for duty.”
The Pentagon has credited the lack of serious injuries or deaths in the attack to an early warning system that allowed the base to disperse its personnel or move them into hardened bunkers. Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Jan. 8 the attack intended harm on US personnel, and that Iran was not trying to purposely miss Americans.
“I believe, based on what I saw and what I know, is that they were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft, and to kill personnel,” Milley said.