Beleaguered, Deceased, DUSTWUN

Noodling around with some research on how our military reports casualties — ultimately, I’m interested in just how they’ve accounted for Iraqi casualties since the war started — I happened across a trove of public but obscure documents outlining rules for handling casualty reports and the casualties themselves. It’s strangely absorbing reading: They cover everything from how to identify mutilated bodies to how NOK (next of kin, in militaryspeak) notification should be handled. And the juxtaposition between the messy, imprecise methods of war and the meticulousness of planning for its inevitable outcome is almost weird. (Actually, the meticulousness is probably a good thing; I found a story online that noted that during the Vietnam War, the military authorized taxi drivers to deliver casualty notifications to next of kin).

From Army Regulation 600-8-1, “Army Casualty Operations/ Assistance/ Insurance” (224 pp., PDF):

Item Name/Description: Casualty Status (11x)

Instructions: Enter one of the following casualty status codes.

Codes:

BESIEGED—Besieged by a hostile force. The type casualty code must be hostile.

BELEAGUERED—Beleaguered by a hostile force. The type casualty code must be hostile.

CAPTURED—Captured by a hostile force. The type casualty code must be hostile.

DETAINED—Individual is detained in a foreign country. The type casualty code can be either hostile or nonhostile.

DECEASED—Individual casualty is dead. The type casualty code can be either hostile or nonhostile.

DUSTWUN—Individual whereabouts unknown. The type casualty code can be either hostile or nonhostile.

INTERNED—Individual is interned in a foreign country. The type casualty code must be nonhostile.

MIA—Individual whose whereabouts and status are unknown but are attributable to hostile activity. The type casualty code must be hostile.

MISSING—Individual whose whereabouts and status are unknown, provided the absence appears to be involuntary. The type casualty code can be either hostile or nonhostile.

NSI—Not seriously injured or ill. Treated at a medical facility and released. The type casualty code can be either hostile or nonhostile.

RMC—Returned to military control. The type casualty code can be either hostile or nonhostile.

SI—Seriously injured, wounded, or ill. The type casualty code can be either hostile or nonhostile.

SPECAT—Special category patient, usually an amputee. The type casualty code can be either hostile or nonhostile.

SPEINT—Special interest. Not seriously injured or ill. Incident could be news worthy. The type casualty code must be nonhostile.

VSI—Very seriously injured, wounded, or ill. The type casualty code can be either hostile or nonhostile.

Format Example:

03. DECEASED

03. VSI

From Army Regulation 638-2, “Procedures for the Care and Disposition of Remains and Disposition of Personal Effects” (141 pp., PDF):

Visual recognition of remains must be done with extreme deliberation and care. The unit commander may identify remains by visual recognition only when the remains facial features are not disfigured. The commander’s identification must be based upon a close and direct examination of the remains by a person or persons who knew the decedent well (roommate, squad leader, close friend). The visual recognition is recorded on DD Form 565 (Statement of Recognition of Deceased). A sample DD Form 565 is located at figure 3–1. DD Form 565 is an enclosure to DA Form 2773 (Statement of Identification).

And from Department of Defense Instruction 1300.18, “Military Personnel Casualty Matters, Policies,

and Procedures”
:

In those circumstances where the reason for a member’s absence is uncertain and it is possible that the member is a casualty whose absence is involuntary, but there is not sufficient evidence to determine immediately that the member is missing or deceased, the member should be designated DUSTWUN [Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown]. This procedure is particularly useful when hostilities prevent the immediate determination of a member’s actual status, or when search and rescue efforts are ongoing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.