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American Soldiers and the Iranian Missile Attack

Updated on February 3, 2020
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MG is a senior air warrior who is an alumnus of the Staff College and a notable writer on military history.


The situation in the Middle East is extremely tense. It has been tense for the last two decades, ever since President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. At that time the Americans led by Bush were dictated by a desire to take control of Iraqi oil and they felt that Saddam Hussein was a hindrance. Hence the fateful decision was taken to remove Saddam Hussein, on allegations of his having WMD( Weapons of Mass Destruction.) Now we know that there was no such thing but the die had been cast. America is now involved in a gruesome operation in the Middle East, which is in my opinion even worse than Vietnam.

By overthrowing Saddam Hussein the Americans burnt their bridges. In practice, Saddam was the enemy of the Taliban and extremists Islamic philosophy. Even President Donald Trump during his election campaign had said that Saddam knew how to deal with Islamic terrorists and had hanged scores of them. He was also the enemy of Iran and this fact was completely overlooked by President Bush.

The overthrow of Saddam did not bring peace to the region but has complicated the situation further. Iran which had overthrown the American puppet Reza Pahlavi is a Shiite Islamic country and hellbent on dominating the Muslim world. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was ruled by the minority Sunni sect though the Shias were the majority.

After the American victory, a Shia dominated government is in power and they have forged close relations with Iran. How many people know that nearly 5000 troops of the Iranian republic under general Suleimani are operating in Iraq. This force known as the Scuds was instrumental in opposing America and one wonders what the Americans are doing in Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament has now passed a non-binding resolution asking the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. This is a sad situation but has been compounded by the actions of President Trump. To be fair to Trump, this situation in Iraq is not of his doing but he's inherited the problem. He has compounded it by giving the direction to kill the Scuds leader in Iraq. This has opened a hornet's nest.

The killing of Suleimani is nothing short of a Pyrrhic victory. The claim that terrorist activities will now stop has no meaning because Suleimani will be replaced by another man and the terror activities will continue. President Trump and the Americans have lost sight of the fact that the main problem is the Scuds force in Iraq which has not been targeted. Hence the killing of Soliemani was meaningless.


The Iranians had promised that they will retaliate for the killing of Suleimani. President Trump had issued his warning also and at one stage said that he would target even the 51 Heritage sites in Iran but it turns out that all the talk of President Trump was just plain bluff. The Iranians did strike and 22 missiles hit two American bases in Iraq.

Despite all the bombastic talk by Trump, the USA has failed to react and the president has gone around saying that not much damage has been done but he forgets that the damage is more psychological than physical. In that respect, Iran has proved that it cannot be trifled with.

The Pentagon immediately confirmed that 34 US soldiers have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), following the Iranian missile attack on January 8, 2020. This number has now gone up to 74. This is a large number and shows the Iranians have achieved a psychological advantage. The American president had said that no soldier in the American army had been injured. This statement was possibly meant to justify his decision not to strike back against Iran.

It was widely expected that President Trump would order some retaliation after 22 Iranian missiles hit two bases in Iraq which housed US troops. Reuters have now reported that the statement of the president that there were no casualties is wrong and 34 US troops(the latest count is 74) have suffered from TBI. They are under treatment or admitted to the hospital after the missile attack. Some have been sent home and some are undergoing treatment at Military hospitals in Germany.


As far as global terrorism is concerned Soleimani was a small figure but he was an important man because he was commanding 5000 soldiers. These soldiers had orchestrated the recent attack on the American Embassy in Baghdad. Iran had promised to avenge the death of soleimani.,

The killing has turned out to be Pyrrhic. One will recollect that this word emanated from King Pyrrhus of Epirus who defeated the Romans at the battle of Ascullum in 279 BC but in his effort, he lost his best officers and troops.

Similarly, the killing of Sulemani achieved nothing. The Scuds forces remain intact and a new commander has taken over.


The Pentagon has proved the claim of the president wrong. The president was downplaying the result of the Iranian attack as he had decided not to respond to the Iranian provocation as maybe he didn't have the stomach to commit the uS to another long war like in Afghanistan. CNN reported that defense department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman just after the attack confirmed that eight soldiers were sent to the United States for further treatment while another nine were sent to Germany. The figures have now gone up.

The news that US soldiers have been affected because of the missile attack has raised the heckles of many organizations The Veterans of America, a non-profit organization has asked the Trump administration why it was not revealing the number and extent of casualties.

Obviously the Americans took time to confirm the casualties which would have been much more in case the attack had come without any warning. We now learn that the Iranians had informed the Iraqi Prime Minister earlier that an attack on two US bases was in the offing.

Last word

The Americans had taken safety precautions but the question remains as to what is going to be the future and how long will the Americans remain in a state of alert in Iraq where the Iraqi government does not want the Americans to remain. One may also question how America is dealing with the Iraqi government which has allowed an Irani force of nearly 5000 soldiers to operate in the country. a force that is inimical to America.


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