Attack on FOB Salerno was misreported (UPDATED)

| June 17, 2012

Back on June 1st we reported that scores of Taliban were killed when they attacked an outpost in Afghanistan named FOB Salerno. Initial reports were that no Americans had been killed in the attack. A commenter told us that we were wrong, and now the Washington Post supports that commenter.

U.S. military officials said they did not try to play down the severity of the attack on the Salerno base. They said it is their long-standing policy to withhold information about wounded or injured troops. At Salerno, many of the service members listed as casualties went to the base clinic as a precaution to be tested for traumatic brain injury, the officials said.

“When you do look at the number of wounded .?.?. it looks like ‘oh my goodness,’?” said a senior NATO official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the policy against discussing non-lethal casualties. “It’s not a coverup. It is what it is.”

The official said most of the 100 service members who suffered minor injuries returned to duty that same day.

There were two American casualties;

The Defense Department did later identify a soldier who died three days after the attack as Pfc. Vincent J. Ellis, 22, a member of the 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

U.S. officials said Saturday that an American contractor also later died of wounds suffered in the attack, but they declined to provide an identification.

The commenter complained that we were being flippant about the death of their relative (apparently it was the identified contractor), we claim ignorance. We were misinformed and offer apologies and condolences to anyone who was offended by our initial elation at the deaths of scores of Haqqani suicide bombers.

UPDATE: This was sent to us by one of our readers on the scene;

There was no [misreporting] here, gents. The blast of the SVBIED in the initial wave hit the walls, and the overpressure nailed the DFAC tent and the PX, both of which were on the other side, where everyone was eating lunch. It’s policy over here for everyone to be checked out for TBI after exposure to any sort of blast. I had mine done when a RR struck over 50 meters away. Someone got carried away and reported the flood of TBI assessments at the Aid Station as actual casualties. The numbers were much lower, and those were mainly shrapnel and eardrum injuries. Can’t go into details about the KIA’s.

He adds;

The SIGACT is declassified after 6 days, we just can’t give specifics on casualties or fatalities. I actually printed out the piece for the boss when we heard about it because of the Force protection concerns that swept down from higher after the attack.

Category: Terror War

Comments (19)

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  1. Hondo says:

    I’m old enough to remember Vietnam – and the less than truthful things coming from official sources during that conflict. And the resulting “credibility gap”.

    Yes, the “fog of war” sometimes leads to mistakes. But it doesn’t take over 2 weeks to correct a “mistake”. And the fact that casualties have occurred can be acknowledged promptly without naming them or being overly specific. That didn’t happen here – and I find it disturbing.

    We do not need to go down that path again.

  2. OWB says:

    Guess it depends upon who you read. VoA reported 2 civilian, 1 American, casualties on June 1:

    And on June 8, (link provided by carol, a cousin of the deceased American) he and a military casualty were named here:

  3. Hondo says:

    OWB: If anything, that bothers me more. If VOA could get the facts more-or-less correct on 1 June, why couldn’t official DoD sources do the same? And they don’t seem to have provided periodic follow-ups concerning the incident, either. Why not?

    This is the kind of stuff (inaccurate/misleading initial reports, no timely follow up/clarification, better reports coming out through alternate channels long before official acknowledgement) that killed DoD’s credibility with the US public during Vietnam. IMO we really don’t need that happening again.

  4. OWB says:

    Must also add that I would put the major responsibility for any misreporting back on Star and Stripes. The way the original article was written it would not cause most of us to investigate further.

    We did, however, exhibit inappropriate reactions based on that misinformation. Thanks, Jonn, for apologizing on our behalf.

  5. OWB says:

    Hondo – I cannot disagree with you.

    Had the family of the contractor not come here to express their disappointment with us, and their confusion in general, I would not have searched to see what others were saying.

    But, since the VoA report seems to have been fairly accurate as well as timely, is it safe to assume that some official was reporting the correct known information to somebody? Not seeing how they could have come up with that exact info without access to something at least semi-official.

  6. Joe Williams says:

    A lie is lie whenter umplied or spoken eye to eye. This is why the American public has lost faith in the media and armed forces.

  7. streetsweeper says:

    @ Mr. Williams. I for one have not any confidence in our armed forces. Lamestream media is a whole nother matter.

  8. streetsweeper says:

    Should read “have not lost any…”

  9. Tina says:

    My husband is there now. There is a video of the attack showing what happened and the aftermath. It’s on their secured computers. As for casualties, i can tell you they were only on communications blackout for about an hour, all of us family members got to talk with our soldiers pretty quickly via internet and phones. Based on that, we believed that the incident must not have been that bad. There have been other incidents where communications were blacked out for days following the incident. Not sure if they were really trying to downplay it. We were told about the massive structural damage and the deaths of the contractor and civilians. About a week later (on the 8th or 9th I believe) we were told about the soldier who died at landstuhl. Our command has never tried to hide anything from the families so I’m not sure why the defense department wouldn’t report the same detail we had.

  10. ahmad says:

    American can’t handle the truth.The defeat and sadness will make them mentally disoriented.They cry like baby when their comrade died and they thought they will be next to be slaughtered.All this insane fucking atheist army will be die before they starts fighting.Please bring them home.

  11. Redacted1775 says:

    Ahmad, you’re out of your fucking mind dude. Go ahead and wag your finger all you want, and spew your senseless rhetoric. It won’t change the fact the cowards you’re cheering for cannot go toe to toe with us. The Taliban has even admitted they can’t win. Since we cleared THAT up, don’t you have some defenseless women to stone?

  12. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Would one of you “find the ISP address finder guys” find out where this asshole is? If he’s in the US I’ll go stomp a mud hole in his ass! Sorry Hondo, you ain’t gonna talk me bout of this one. Listen you rat bastard, sand monkey, goat fucking, towel head, chicken shit son of a inbred bitch. Your “warriors” hide behind women and children, plant hidden bombs and desecrate you gutter religion shit hle churches. YOUR defeat has made you and your coward buddies mentally unstable. You’ll send children to their deaths because you are such gutless pigs you won’t fight us like MEN. Your god, allah,(no it doesn’t deserve a capital, since it’s as pig a pig as you. Yes I think you’re lower than the animal you find filthy.

  13. Hondo says:

    Based on his IP address Ahmad appears to be overseas, Yat Yas 1833.

  14. ahmad says:

    Whats the wrong with you guys.Are you all a retarded limbo.I am giving you advised to bring your troops home.I am very regret to see they died for nothing.You are not fighting for your dignity but you are fighting Islam as my religion and Allah as my God.You can say anything you like about me but you don’t have the right to insulted my holy God.I am not afraid of you all.I will fight you until my last breath.I feel the pain and you also felt the pain.I got Allah but you got nothing.I will die anyway but its a honour to die for my God.

  15. Redacted1775 says:

    Who said we’re fighting Islam? You’re seriously confused my friend. Just so you’re aware, we all worship the same God. Get over yourself.

  16. Hondo says:

    Well, obviously the comment above wasn’t from Ahmad the Dead Terrorist . . . .

  17. NHSparky says:

    ahmad–up your ass with a ham sandwich mean anything in your culture, brah?

  18. My Name is Abdul says:

    Alright guys, still confused, why american Army had to go to Afganistan, in Mountains, Dust, Stones. do you think to fight Alqaeda? ………. Forget it!!!

    and What you think the people who are fighting back are Al-Qaeda, ……….. Very funny

    and Lastly if US was/is winning that warm why they are calling thier Army back after wasting Billions of dollars???

    Think my friends Just think. if you have more money, Give it to me. Dont waste in Mountains, I swear, you will get nothing!!!

    Dont under-estimate people/ other cultures, they are stronge, persistant and fight loving people.

  19. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @18. Thanks, Paula.