WASHINGTON - The number of American troops wounded in Iraq soared in the past two weeks as the insurgency flared in south-central Iraq and in the Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad.
The Pentagon announced Friday in its weekly casualty report that 3,864 troops have been wounded in action since the war began in March 2003, an increase of 595 from two weeks earlier.
The U.S. military death toll as of Friday stood at 707, according to the Pentagon's count. At least 100 have been killed this month, the highest total for any month since the U.S.-led invasion began. Most deaths were in the early part of April; about 25 have died in the past two weeks.
The Pentagon on Friday announced the identity of the 100th service member to have died so far this month. He was Army Staff Sgt. Edward W. Carmen, 27, of McKeesport, Pa., who died April 17 in Baghdad when the driver of the tank he was in lost control and the tank rolled off a bridge.
The Pentagon does not identify those who are wounded.
As the toll on U.S. forces has mounted this month, most public attention has focused on the deaths. Less has been reported on the wounded, in part because the Pentagon has stopped providing daily updates and does not give details on the types or severity of wounds.
The only distinction the Pentagon makes in its public reports is between the number of wounded who are returned to duty within three days and those who are not. In the past two weeks, the number of wounded who returned to duty rose by 257 and the number who did not rose by 338.
The number wounded since April 1 is approaching 900, far beyond the 200-300 wounded in most other months of the conflict. In March 291 were wounded in action. The highest monthly total before April was 413 in October 2003, according to the Pentagon's Directorate for Information Operations and Reports.
The Pentagon's figures do not include troops who are injured in accidents or felled by illness.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday that regardless of how well U.S. troops may be trained, the kind of conflict they are fighting in Iraq is bound to take a heavy toll. He singled out the Marines, saying they consider themselves well-trained to fight in urban areas; Marines have been fighting recently in and around the city of Fallujah.
"It doesn't mean that you're going to be able to live through that in a perfect way without people being killed or without people being wounded, and the tragedy of the reality we live in is that that's happening," he said.
Some of the more seriously wounded are treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and at the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest U.S. hospital abroad.
In its most recent report, Walter Reed said it had received 33 new battle casualties from Iraq last week. All arrived on medical evacuation flights from Landstuhl. Walter Reed has treated 2,976 patients from the Iraq war since March 2003, of which 585 were listed as battle casualties.
Many of the U.S. combat wounds have been inflicted by homemade bombs, which the military calls improvised explosive devices and which often are hidden along roadways used by U.S. military convoys.
Since the insurgency intensified, starting March 31, many of the wounds have come in gunfights, particularly in and around the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in the volatile Sunni Triangle. Insurgents fire rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms.
By far most of the battle wounds have happened since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1. Since that date there have been more than 2,700 wounded in action, of which 109 were females and more than half were lower-ranking enlisted soldiers.
According to a Pentagon breakdown by age group, 579 troops aged 21 and below were wounded between May 1 and April 8, the latest date for which such figures are publicly available. A total of 669 troops were aged 22-24; 703 were aged 25-30; 353 were aged 31-35, and 327 were over 35. The Pentagon said ages were not yet available for 104 of the wounded.
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