19 August 2009

Here, Bullet, a mystery.

A long time ago I posted a blog expressing how deeply I am struck by Brian Turner's poems. He served in Iraq in 2ID. I have yet to find a more pure expression of the war than his work. Read here two that haunt me: "Here, Bullet", and "AB Negative"


I see my own Thalia as I read them.

One other to mention is "Body Bags"


Today I read an article detailing how small arms fire is more deadly in Iraq (20% of soldiers struck die) when compared to Afghanistan (15%):


The article offers solid theories: The steel core rounds used more commonly by insurgent snipers in Iraq (can penetrate Kevlar) and evidence there are greater numbers of skilled insurgent sniper teams in Iraq.

From my part, I was struck by the impression that barely any of my US troop patients had received penetrating projectile trauma: Nearly all of them were victims of fragmentation/blast attack, like IED and indirect fire. Fortunately we were lucky enough to have a great survival rate for these wounds: round about 93%, and if they made it to the Balad hospital alive, survival was 98%.

The lower incidence of small arms fire injuries is a testament to great advances in individual body armor. Even over the course of the war our experiences guided improvements such as broader neck, axilla, and groin protection. (Of course all this makes a sweaty, heavy kit sweatier and heavier, so we might not get universal thanks!)

I think perhaps the higher death rate of these thankfully less common gunshot wounds is because they represent the unlucky magic bullets that sneak through the few gaps in the armor to strike a major blood vessel or vulnerable organ. I'm hard pressed to say why it is more deadly in Iraq than Afghanistan. I would agree that enemy personnel/capability has something to do with it: there has been a gathering of foreign fighters. However I think the most likely culprit is terrain: In Iraq the denser population centers allows the insurgents to deviously blend in with civilians and sneak up closer to our troops for more lethal fire. Perhaps not for much longer.

I'd be curious to hear if those with actual experience outside the wire have an opinion on this, rather than rely on guesses from a Fobbit like me!

Lastly, if you want to read an incredible story about how our amazing fighting troops are bulletproof, look here:


Stay safe, wear your gear.


(below: potentially eye-killing frag stopped by ICE. Thanks to SB for image)

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