Fewer US troops killed and wounded than in 2005 or 2004

Seems that this fact might be important, but the headline is Monthly U.S. toll in Iraq at 2-year high in the LA Times.

The Marine deaths reported Friday brought the number of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion to 2,996, icasualties.org said, with 816 of them occurring this year. Last year, 846 American service members died; in 2004, the figure was 848.

The number of U.S. wounded is also down this year — 5,676 compared with 5,947 in 2005 and 8,001 in 2004.

For what it’s worth, the number has risen to 818 since the article was published. Why do I get the feeling that some folks are keeping their fingers crossed for a big helicopter crash within the next twenty-four hours or so? Pitiful.

Anyway, for the “Iraq is just like Vietnam” crowd, we didn’t have two straight years of declining deaths until 1969 and 1970. So does that mean that Iraq in 2007 is going to be about where Vietnam was in 1971? Actually, there are a few parallels to be found there, but I think it would pretty silly to make too much of them.

Also, those two years of declining deaths in Vietnam totalled 17,940 dead, and these two years of declining deaths in Iraq will total about 1,664. Or, as you can see, less than 10% of the Vietnam total.

At the rate of US military deaths in Iraq so far, we’ll be matching the Vietnam total in July or August of 2077. Now, to be fair, that’s a lot closer than the May 2523 date that casualties will match those in World War II, but it’s still so silly as to be not worth worrying about.

I mention this not to minimize those who have died, but to point out how clueless those making Vietnam comparisons are and how pointless it would be to dwell on the casualty count as a measure of our success or lack of success in Iraq.

Well, and to point out that the media knows that casualties are down year-over-year but they have decided to tell a different story.

More at Mudville Gazette.


  1. One thing we should have learned from Vietnam is the futility of using body count or kill ratios as some sort of ghoulish ‘score’ to see if we’re winning. If we had any stones at all, we’d be doing to the enemy what we did to them in WW2, not lobbing around these bs numbers regarding how many of ours or theirs are dead. We should either fight to win or get the hell out of there.

  2. The US & allied forces in Iraq are basically just a holding/security force while we fix their institutions. How much of Iraq is in IA hands now? Must be at least 33%. Perhaps by the end of next year it will be 66%. Hopefully casualties will go down and the Iraqis will finally manage to pacify their own country. Per the small wars manual, counterinsurgency fights are won socially and politically, not militarily. The military phase is only there to support the others. The big worry is that the powers-that-be are messing up the non-military aspect, but I think they have some clue. Anyway, a toast – to less deaths and injuries, and more freedom and independence for Iraqis.

  3. Hmm, a ‘holding/security force’? Seems like we did that a couple of times and got our asses kicked. I remember one was called a ‘police action’. Just a nice little police action to stop the human waves of infantry trying to push us off of some penninsula somewhere, that’s all. Maybe we’ll stop fighting like pussies if this research is successful. I say we make this patch mandatory for all pregnant US women if there is any question at all…

  4. There are good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information: I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak. If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, ‘Odyssey of Armaments’ http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2006/11/odyssey-of-armaments.html The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself. How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the new Sec. Def.Mr. Gates, understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details? Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups. From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results. This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment. This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed. We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

  5. Dfens: Action in Korea was not a ‘holding/security force’, even if they called it a ‘police action’. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. It was a hot war, part of the cold war, and countries including the US, Australia, China and Russia were involved. Are you telling me that Korea and Iraq are the same? I don’t think you are. So what’s your point then? Surely you realize that a counterinsurgency war is fought differently from a regular war. All the manuals published by the US military on counterinsurgency point that out. Do you deny that COIN operations are won by different means than regular wars? If so, based on what evidence?

  6. Ken, you are exactly right. That’s what the entrenched establishment does. They limit the options to two or three that suck and anything that might actually work is never on the table. I’ll have to visit your blog later today to see what else you’ve discovered. As for Korea and Vietnam being just like Iraq, Nicholas, I do see many parallels. It is a surrogate war, just like they were. China has used many of their Asian satellites to tie us up militarily and to take our focus off the real problem, which is them. On the up side, Iraq is pointing out the absolute failure of our ‘high tech’ weaponry. Sure we can roll over a country in a few weeks with the garbage, but we can’t win a war with it. What the hell good is it? In the mean time we grant China special trade partner status and let them attack our industrial base with their unfair trade practices and we are more than happy to sell them the keys to the front door. We have gone from being a nation that fails to prosecute traitors to a nation of traitors.

  7. I’m quite confident the US can win any war they want to, if only they had the will to do so. I’m not at all confident that will exists any more, no matter how good the cause may be. I see technology and war as being immutable for the US. You seek to dominate your enemies, and technology is one of the ways you achieve it. While I see problems with today’s military technology I don’t think having better weapons is a problem in and of itself. Only if you think that’s all you need to win. As for your other points, they are noted, but I think you tend to see the world as a collection of adversaries. Just as the Chinese famously have a word which means both crisis and opportunity, I think they understand that there can exist a beneficial relationship even with competitors. If anything, they can be relied upon to act in their own best interest. Our question is how can we leverage that to our own advantage? I don’t think the correct answer is to oppose them in all arenas simply because they are competition. Anyway it’s late here, we can discuss this another time.

  8. That’s an excellent point, Nicholas. China is both a crisis and opportunity. We are at a cross roads. The problem is, if we don’t look out for our own interests, we can’t expect they will, and if we let things go too far along as they have before we get them in hand, there will be a crisis and possibly a confrontation. Being strong and standing up for one’s self generally leads to peace, not war. As for the high tech junk, 170 F-22s aren’t going to scare anyone. We never seem to learn from our own history. The Japanese Zero was a better fighter than almost all of ours, yet we overcame them with large numbers decent fighters and good pilot training. The tiger tank was better than ours, and the same thing defeated them, numbers. We’ve gone from being the blue force to being red. We’ve practically unlearned every good lesson from our own history.