Incorrect Casualty Reporting Investigated

Associated Press
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The families of seven soldiers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan received incorrect or misleading information about the deaths, the Army concluded after a review of war casualty reports.

The review, which began last summer, covered hundreds of casualty reports and marked the first step in a process ordered by Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey to ensure that families receive accurate information.

Lt. Col. Kevin Arata, an Army spokesman, said yesterday that the review found seven cases in which families were given erroneous information. The best known was Cpl. Pat Tillman, a former NFL player whose family initially was told that he had been killed by enemy forces in Afghanistan. After Tillman's memorial service, the family was told the truth: He was killed unintentionally by gunfire from his fellow soldiers.

The Tillman case triggered a series of highly publicized Army investigations, leading to Harvey's decision in April to begin a unit-level investigation of every soldier's death, rather than only under certain circumstances.

The Army has not released results from the Tillman investigation or others, but it has said misunderstandings and miscommunication -- not criminal negligence -- are to blame for incorrect casualty reporting.

The issue of inaccurate information resurfaced this summer when Army officials revealed that two California National Guardsmen -- Lt. Andre Tyson and Spec. Patrick McCaffrey -- were killed in June 2004 by the Iraqi civil-defense soldiers they were training. The Army initially told the men's families that they were killed in an enemy ambush.

In September 2005, the Army acknowledged publicly that it had known for more than a year after 1st Lt. Kenneth Ballard's death in Iraq in May 2004 that he was not killed in action, as it initially told his family, but by the accidental discharge of a U.S. machine gun. The Army did not release the names of the seven soldiers whose cases were not initially reported correctly.

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