WASHINGTON, DC - Thirty-four U.S. service members have been diagnosed with concussion and traumatic brain injuries as a result of the Iranian missile attack at Ain al-Asad Air Base in Iraq earlier this month, the Pentagon admitted on Friday.
"Thirty-four total members have been diagnosed with concussions and TBI," Jonathan Hoffman, the Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense told a press briefing on Friday.
"Eight service members who were previously transported to Germany have been transported to the United States. They will continue to receive treatment in the United States, either at Walter Reed or at their home bases. They arrived this morning."
"Nine service members transported to Germany are still undergoing evaluation and treatment there. One service member transported to Kuwait received treatment and has returned to duty in Iraq," the defense official said.
"Sixteen service members who were diagnosed with concussion and TBI while in Iraq, and remained in Iraq, have already returned to duty."
The missile attack occurred on 8 January local time (5:30pm 7 January EST). Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. "It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil," Hoffman said at the time.
"We are working on initial battle damage assessments," he added
The missile attack was in retaliation for the assassination of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, awhich was at the direction of President Trump. At the time of the attack, U.S. President Donald Trump said that the Iranian attack had caused no casualties, that no U.S. service personnel, or anyone else had been killed or injured.
Asked about the time lapse in revealing to the public the extent of injuries, the assistant defense secretary explained that symptoms develop over time.
"The total number is 34 that have been diagnosed by a medical professional over the course of the last couple weeks," Hoffman said Friday.
"And as, and as we talked about, you know, part of the timeline on this process is, a lot of these symptoms, they are late-developing, they manifest over a period of time."
Asked about the change in status in relation to casualties, Mr Trump on Thursday told reporters in Davos, Switzerland: "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. I don't consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I've seen."