From Department of Defense,
INSTRUCTION NUMBER 1300.18, December 18, 2000:
E188.8.131.52. Duty Status - Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN).
A temporary designation, applicable to military members
only, used when the reason for a member's absence is
uncertain and it is possible that the member may be
a casualty whose absence is involuntary, but there is
not sufficient evidence to make a determination that
the member's actual status is missing or deceased.
The acronym DUSTWUN is an old one for the American military, but a new one for most of the American public. Sadly, it may soon be translated into "hostage."
This is the official Defense Department press release about the events near Yusufiyah south of Baghdad on Saturday:
DoD Identifies Army Casualty and Soldiers as Whereabouts Unknown
The Department of Defense announced today the death of one soldier
and the identity of two soldiers listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown
(DUSTWUN) who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. On June 16, in
Baghdad, Iraq, the soldiers were manning a checkpoint when they came under
enemy small arms fire. All three soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion,
502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault),
Fort Campbell, Ky.
Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass.
Reported as DUSTWUN are:
Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas
Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.
According to some unconfirmed reports, the U.S. military, searching intensely for the two, has offered residents of the area up to $100,000 for information leading to their release. But it's unlikely this is a money deal.
Last Wednesday, I met with a British friend who runs one of the many private security companies in Iraq. He predicted that American and British soldiers would be taken hostage there and possibly in Afghanistan as well. He suggested that the most likely propaganda goal would be to accumulate several hostages taken in ambushes, then to carry out serial executions over time. It looks like he was right about the first part of the program. Let's hope he was wrong about the second. - CD