WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. military has conducted 18,004 medical evacuations in Operation Iraqi Freedom, a top Pentagon official said.
The new data, through March 13, is far higher than the 11,200 evacuations through Feb. 5 cited just last month to Congress by the same official, William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.
In both cases, Winkenwerder described the evacuations as "total evacuations out of theater," and he said both times that the majority of evacuations represented routine medical treatment and not life-threatening injuries.
"As of March 13, 2004, data from the Transportation Command shows 18,004 total evacuations out of theater," Winkenwerder said Tuesday.
"As of February 5, 2004, data from the Transportation Command shows 11,200 total evacuations out of theater," he told a separate House panel Feb. 25.
A spokesman for Winkenwerder, James Turner, said the latest figure represents multiple evacuations for single patients -- including moving some soldiers back into theater. He said the 18,004 evacuations was for 11,700 patients.