DAVOS, Switzerland/WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he did not consider the brain injuries suffered by 11 U.S. service members in Iran’s recent attack on a base in Iraq to be serious, as the American military moved more troops out of the region for potential injuries.
In a statement on Wednesday, U.S. Central Command said that more troops had been flown out of Iraq to Germany for medical evaluations following Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack on the base where U.S. forces were stationed after announcing the 11 injuries last week.
Further injuries may be identified in the future, it added, without giving further details.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said about a dozen troops were being transported to Germany.
Trump and other top officials initially said Iran’s attack had not killed or injured any U.S. service members before the Pentagon reversed course on Thursday, saying 11 U.S. troops had been treated for concussion symptoms after the attack on the Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq.
On Wednesday, Trump declined to explain the discrepancy.
"I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say and I can report it is not very serious,” Trump told a news conference in Davos, Switzerland.
Asked whether he considered traumatic brain injury to be serious, Trump said: "They told me about it numerous days later. You’d have to ask the Department of Defense.”
Pentagon officials have said there had been no effort to minimize or delay information on concussive injuries, but its handling of the injuries following Tehran’s attack has
renewed questions over the U.S. military’s policy regarding how it handles suspected brain injuries.
While the U.S. military has to immediately report incidents threatening life, limb or eyesight, it does not have an urgent requirement to do so with suspected traumatic brain injury, or TBI, which can take time to manifest and diagnose.
According to Pentagon data, about 408,000 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury since 2000.
"I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen,” Trump said. "I’ve seen people with no legs and no arms.”
Various health and medial groups for years have been trying to raise awareness about the seriousness of brain injuries, including concussions.
On Tuesday, Daily Beast said Trump twisted the Iran intelligence to manufacture the "four embassies” threat as a pretext for the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
According to the American news website, when Trump publicly claimed earlier this month that he had seen intel showing Gen. Soleimani was plotting attacks on "four embassies,” senior officials in Trump’s national security apparatus shook their heads.
They weren’t sure exactly why the president leaned on that particular talking point, and scrambled in the following days to formulate answers to a barrage of questions from the media on exactly what the president had meant. Other officials wondered aloud whether the president had misrepresented the intelligence, it said.
"There were definitely questions about whether he had just made it up on the spot,” recalled one White House official.
According to three sources familiar with the matter, the Daily Beast said, the president had simply seized on a small part of what he’d heard in private briefings, exaggerated that aspect of the intelligence, then began sharing the inflated intel to the American public.