The media has been marching to the steady drumbeat of the official 2,000th US troop death from the war in Iraq. The number of stories via Google News: close to 2,000.
What does this number signify? An artificial mark, according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force’s combined press center:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Shortly before U.S. military deaths in Iraq reached 2,000 on Tuesday, the chief spokesman for the American-led multinational force called on reporters covering the conflict not to look at the event as a milestone.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force’s combined press center, described the number as an “artificial mark on the wall.”
“I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq,” Boylan said in an e-mail. “The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives.”
The U.S. military death toll reached 2,000 with the death of an Army sergeant who was wounded by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad and died in Texas last weekend. A Pentagon announcement Tuesday said Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander Jr., 34, of Killeen, Texas, died in San Antonio, Texas. The death raised the Associated Press tally of military fatalities in the Iraq war to 2,000.
Alexander was wounded Oct. 17 in Samarra, a town 60 miles north of the Iraqi capital. He was assigned to the 1st Batallion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga.
“The 2,000th Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine that is killed in action is just as important as the first that died and will be just as important as the last to die in this war against terrorism and to ensure freedom for a people who have not known freedom in over two generations,” Boylan wrote.
He complained that the true milestones of the war were “rarely covered or discussed,” and said they included the troops who had volunteered to serve, the families of those that have been deployed for a year or more, and the Iraqis who have sought at great risk to restore normalcy to their country.
Here’s more perspective from Major Chaz over at the Big2K blog:
First, being in the military is a high-risk enterprise, even when you are not in combat. Humvees roll over, helicopters crash, people commit suicide, people get hit by vehicles. People die. But in this instance, since they happened in a combat zone, they fit neatly into the meme of the leftists that “Bush Lied, People Died”. They would have you believe that all of these brave souls died as victims of imperialist government fighting in an illegal war. Bringthemhomenow.org says “So far, more than 1950 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq ….”
But only slightly more than 1500 have actually died from hostile fire. More than 400 military members have died due to non-combat causes. And not all of the almost 2000 deaths have actually happened in Iraq. If a military member dies in the AOR, on orders for OIF, his/her death is counted towards “the milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq”.
God be with our men and women in uniform as they continue on their noble missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan, while hopefully ignoring an (I hate to say) almost gleeful press.
One more note to the military: please never forget that we support you!
Hat tips to Little Green Footballs and Michelle Malkin.