Two days after President Donald Trump dismissed concussion symptoms suffered by several American troops as "not very serious", after Iranian airstrikes on Ayn al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, the Defense Department said 34 US service members were diagnosed with concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
Hoffman's disclosure that 34 had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, or TBI, was the first update on the number injured in Iran's missile attack on Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq since the Pentagon said on January 17 that 11 service members had been flown out of Iraq with concussion-like symptoms.
The care was needed after 11 ballistic missiles left wreckage and deep craters at al-Asad air base, where more than 1000 USA service members were based along with Iraqi forces.
On Wednesday, Trump appeared to play down the injuries, saying he "heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things".
As previously stated, while no US service members were killed in the January 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed. At least one service member was taken to Kuwait for treatment, and 16 service members returned to duty. NBC News reported last week that 11 service members were transported to two hospitals for treatment for concussions following the strike.
No one was killed in the attack on Ain al-Asad.
Iran's actions were in response to the USA killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The U.S. had deployed numerous Patriot systems to other countries in the region as protection against Iranian missile attack, including in Saudi Arabia, but a strike on Iraq was seen as less likely.
The evaluation and treatment of the injured service members is being conducted as a wide scale effort.
"The goal is to be as transparent, accurate, and to provide the American people and our service members with the best information about the tremendous sacrifices our warfighters make", Hoffman said.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters that eight service members who had been previously transported to Germany had been moved to the US.
The base is one of the largest in Iraq, with 1 500 U.S. troops making up the bulk of a coalition presence directly adjacent to thousands of Iraqi forces.