The Army sent soldiers recovering from injuries—some still on crutches—to a desert training center in California, in an apparent attempt to pad manpower statistics. Witnesses describe tents at Fort Irwin packed with soldiers in no shape to train, or even to walk, but counted by the Pentagon as evidence of US battle-readiness. Some, their injuries downgraded, were sent back to Iraq.
One infantry sergeant was packed off to the training center before getting a cast for his foot, broken in Iraq. "I was on Percocet. I couldn't even concentrate. I hopped on a plane and hobbled around on crutches," he told Mark Benjamin. Officials acknowledge that injured troops were being sent to Iraq, but insisted they were put in safe noncombat jobs.