Army Flap Over Letters To Dead Officers

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The Army said Friday it would apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.

The letters were sent a few days after Christmas to more than 5,100 Army officers who had recently left the service. Included were letters to about 75 officers killed in action and about 200 wounded in action. The 75 represent more than one-third of all Army officers who have died in Iraq since the war began.

"Army personnel officials are contacting those officers' families now to personally apologize for erroneously sending the letters," the Army said in a brief news release issued Friday night.

The Army did not say how or when the mistake was discovered. It said the database normally used for such correspondence with former officers had been "thoroughly reviewed" to remove the names of wounded or dead soldiers.

"But an earlier list was used inadvertently for the December mailings," the Army statement said, adding that the Army is apologizing to those officers and families affected and "regrets any confusion."

The total number of Army officers who have died in Iraq since the war began stood at 217 as of Dec. 2, according to the latest available Pentagon statistics. In all, the Army has had 1,552 soldiers — combining officers and enlisted — killed in action in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, plus 409 who died of non-hostile causes.

The number of Army officers wounded in action in Iraq stood at 894 as of Dec. 2, out of an Army total — for both officers and enlisted — of 14,165, according to the latest Pentagon figures.

Altogether, at least 3,006 members of the U.S. military have died in Iraq since the war began, according to an Associated Press count.
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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.

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