The U.S. military is preparing to report an increase in the number of traumatic brain injuries following the Iranian missile attack on a base in Iraq last month of more than 50 percent, U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday.
Officials who spoke anonymously prior to an announcement said that more than 100 cases of TBI had occurred, compared to the 64 cases reported last month.
The Pentagon declined to comment, but has historically expected the number to increase in the weeks after the attack, as symptoms may take some time to appear and troops can sometimes take longer to report.
No U.S. force was killed or immediately injured when Iran fired rockets at Ain al-Asad's base in Iraq to punish the United States' assassination of Revolutionary Guard Qassem Soleimani in a drone attack on Baghdad Airport on January 3.
Pentagon officials have repeatedly said that no effort has been made to minimize or delay information on concussion injuries. However, the disclosures following Tehran's attack have raised new questions about U.S. military policy, how it reports suspected brain injuries internally, and whether they are treated publicly with the same urgency as limb or life loss.
President Donald Trump appeared to be downplaying the brain injuries last month, saying that after the attack, he "heard that they had a headache and a few other things," which triggered criticism from lawmakers and a US veteran group.
According to Pentagon data, around 408,000 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury since 2000.