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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 06/15/2010

Military intelligence fatalities twice CIA's

By Jeff Stein

They have no somber wall to represent personnel who have died on secret missions.

But military intelligence personnel are taking far greater -- and far less recognized -- casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan than the CIA, whose latest dead were honored in a headquarters ceremony last week.

In all, 22 CIA personnel have been killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001, not all of them in terrorism-related incidents, according to an agency official. Twelve stars, seven of them representing officers and contractors killed by a double-agent suicide bomber in Khost, Afghanistan, on Dec. 30, were added to the CIA's memorial wall last week.

Meanwhile, 41 military spy-handlers and other MI personnel have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to figures supplied by the U.S. Army Intelligence Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Five of them were women.

In addition, the Defense Intelligence Agency, which has deployed analysts and other personnel to the war zones, has suffered 45 wounded from mortar attacks and other causes since March 2003, the bulk of them in Iraq.

The DIA has recorded no fatalities in the war zones, but it lost seven civilian personnel in one fell swoop on Sept. 11, 2001, when one of the hijacked airliners crashed into the Pentagon. Eight more DIA personnel, all but one civilians, were wounded, a spokesman said. A Patriot’s Memorial wall at Bolling Air Force Base honors the DIA's 21 fallen, by name, going back to 1970.

Presumably, the main reason MI casualties are so far greater than the CIA's is that military intelligence personnel are far more numerous in the war zones (although the agency had roughly 500 personnel assigned to Baghdad alone by 2005).

But the large number of MI casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan also suggests the conflicts are far more dangerous for military spies and support personnel than the last major counterinsurgency war, in Vietnam, where some never saw a bullet fired in anger.

In Afghanistan especially, there are no front lines. Nor are there safe havens in cities and towns, as was largely the case in South Vietnam, where many a military agent in slacks and Hawaiian shirts could dine in a local restaurant, go out for a drink and sleep on clean sheets.

In sharp contrast, MI personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan rarely stray far from their bases or units, and never unarmed. And like their uniformed brethren, they are mostly dying in Humvees from roadside bombs.

Such was the case of Cari A. Gasiewicz, 28, an Army counterintelligence agent and Arabic interpreter who died when two roadside bombs detonated near her convoy in Baqubah, Iraq, on Dec. 4, 2004.

“She was in the final weeks of her year-long deployment and the convoy was headed to Kuwait to prepare for redeployment in January,” according to Fort Huachuca.

In 2005, the 202nd MI Battalion at Fort Gordon, Ga., dedicated its headquarters building in her honor. Three years later, the Defense Language Institute also memorialized a building in her name.

Likewise in 2006, the Military Intelligence Library at Fort Huachuca was memorialized in honor of Warrant Officer Christopher G. Nason, a voice intercept technician and Arabic linguist who died in a vehicular accident near Mosul in November 2003.

Nason, 39, was the first MI soldier from the fort to die in Iraq.

Specialist Farid Elazzouzi, an MI interpreter-translator born in Morocco, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk only two years after obtaining a U.S. visa in 2005, has no building named for him, but he was was posthumously awarded American citizenship.

The first MI agent to die in Afghanistan was Staff Sgt. Brian “Cody” Prosser, a 10-year veteran of military operations in Somalia, Haiti, Jordon, Kuwait, Kosovo, and "throughout Southwest Asia," according to Fort Huachuca.

Assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Prosser was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, 150 miles behind enemy lines, in December 2001.

The citation for Prosser’s Bronze Star for valor stated that “his actions leading up to the battle on the night of 3 December were key in allowing the advance team to move to and destroy an enemy strong point at Sayad Alma Kalay with complete success” while “outnumbered 50 to 1.”

Fort Huachuca renamed its academic complex Prosser Village in his honor.

A new spy-handler training site at the Army intelligence school will also be named for a fallen MI soldier, later this year.

Sgt. Nicholas Casey, a human intelligence collector, died on Oct, 28, 2008, when a suicide bomber detonated explosives while he and his team "were preparing to conduct operations in a police station in Baghlan, Afghanistan,” according to the base’s public affairs office.

“The suicide bomber, disguised as an Afghan police officer, walked unhindered into the police station and detonated himself, killing SGT Casey and SGT Kevin D. Grieco,” the announcement said. “SGT Casey was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina.”

Beside Casey, eight other MI personnel have died in Afghanistan, including an intelligence analyst and three others involved with communications.

The 33 Iraq fatalities included two women listed as cryptologic linguists, two as signals intelligence analysts, and one as a “HUMINT Collector,” or spy handler.

Figures for Vietnam War MI casualties could not be readily obtained and may not be available in one place, authorities said.

One official history said “casualties among Military Intelligence personnel were not restricted to members of the Army Security Agency,” which eavesdropped on enemy communications.

“During the [1968] Tet offensive, the Hue detachment of the 525th MI Group was overrun and its members killed or captured,” it said.

“The first Medal of Honor ever granted to a Military Intelligence officer," it added, "was awarded posthumously to 1st Lt. George Sisler, assistant intelligence officer of a Special Forces team.”

By Jeff Stein  | June 15, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Military  
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Comments

Thank-you for recognizing our loses.

Posted by: whocares666 | June 15, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Nice article however there is in fact the INSCOM memorial wall in front of the headquarters building at Fort Belvoir.
I have heard MI soldiers deploy the most and certain MOS's like 35T (the computer/network technical types) deploy the most out of MI, which people might find surprising.

Posted by: shadowsoldier1987 | June 15, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

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