US military casualties from the occupation of Iraq have been more than twice the number most Americans have been led to believe because of an extraordinarily high number of accidents, suicides and other non-combat deaths in the ranks that have gone largely unreported in the media. \nSince May 1, when President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations, 52 American soldiers have been killed by hostile fire, according to Pentagon figures quoted in almost all the war coverage. But the total number of US deaths from all causes is much higher: 112. \nThe other unreported cost of the war for the US is the number of American wounded: 827 since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. \nUnofficial figures are in the thousands. About half have been injured since Bush's triumphant appearance on board the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln at the beginning of May. Many of the wounded have lost limbs. \nThe figures are politically sensitive. The number of American combat deaths since the start of the war is 166 -- 19 more than the death toll in the first Gulf war. \nThe passing of that benchmark last month erased the perception, popular at the time Baghdad fell, that the US had scored an easy victory. \nAccording to a Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans still think Iraq was worth going to war over, but a quarter want the troops out now and another third want a withdrawal if the casualty figures continue to mount. \nIn fact, the total death toll this time is 248 -- including accidents and suicides -- and as the number of non-combat deaths and serious injuries becomes more widely known, the erosion of public confidence is likely to continue, posing a threat to Bush's prospects of re-election, which at the beginning of May had seemed a foregone conclusion. \nMilitary observers say it is unusual, even in a "low-intensity" guerrilla war such as the situation seen in Iraq, for non-combat deaths to outnumber combat casualties. \nThe Pentagon does not tabulate the cause of those deaths, but according to a US Web site that has been tracking official reports, Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, 23 American soldiers have died in car or helicopter accidents since May 1, while 12 have been killed in accidents with weapons or explosives. \nThree deaths have been categorized as "possible suicides," three have died from illness and three from drowning. The rest are unexplained. \nWounded American soldiers continue to be flown back to the US at a relentless rate, in twice-weekly transport flights to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington. \nHospital staff are working 70- or 80-hour weeks, and the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington is so full that it has taken over beds normally reserved for cancer patients to handle the influx, according to a report on CBS television. \nMeanwhile, at the nearby national naval medical center in Bethesda, Maryland, new Marine injuries are delivered almost daily by a medical plane known as the Nightingale.
MORE ARRIVALS ALLOWED: Taiwan yesterday increased its cap on arrivals to 60,000 from 50,000 ahead of a full border opening with a weekly cap of 150,000 on Oct. 13 Travelers arriving in Taiwan from Oct. 13 would no longer be required to quarantine on arrival and visitors of all nationalities would be allowed to enter, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced yesterday. However, the number of arrivals would be capped at 150,000 per week, he added. Travelers aged two or older would be given four rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits on arrival and be asked to monitor their health for seven days, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference. Under the new arrival protocol, travelers would have to take a test on the day of arrival or the day after, followed
SOVEREIGN NATION: The Chinese premier’s remarks about the CCP’s resolve to achieve unification sought to undermine the legitimacy of Taiwan, the MAC said Taiwan will never accept Beijing’s attempts to undermine its sovereignty, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday, after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at its National Day celebrations in Beijing vowed to achieve unification with Taiwan. The CCP’s statement was not conducive to peaceful cross-strait relations, the council said. The event, hosted by the Chinese State Council, featured Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), the other five CCP Politburo Standing Committee members and Vice President Wang Qishan (王岐山), as well as 500 guests from China and abroad. Taiwanese based in China also attended the ceremony, Xinhua news agency
Washington is evaluating a transfer of weapons systems requested by Taiwan, according to a copy of a report by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) that is to be submitted to lawmakers tomorrow. Asked whether the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile would be among the weapons systems, the ministry refused to comment, but said that it would not rule out announcing the specifics later this year. The ministry’s domestically sourced high-priority military investments include submarines, next-generation light frigates, rescue ships, advanced trainer jets and infantry fighting vehicles, the report said. Planned deals include F-16A and F-16B jet performance upgrades, navigation and targeting
DEFENSE-READY: The armament of the ‘Yushan’ allows for amphibious combat operations, the head of a firm involved in the ship’s construction said The navy yesterday took delivery of the first locally developed and built naval ship of more than 10,000 tonnes in a ceremony in Kaohsiung presided over by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The ROCS Yushan, an amphibious transport dock, was the result of a government-initiated indigenous shipbuilding project seeking to establish autonomy over national defense, Tsai said. She thanked CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台船), the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology and the navy for their contributions. The military needs the best equipment to uphold peace and defend Taiwan as it faces military threats from China, Tsai said. The 153m long and 23m wide Yushan