Wednesday, March 22, 2006

America's Sacrifice

The Jawa Report references a post at Say Anything, where there is discussion on what the number of US deaths in Iraq means, comparing the first four years of Clinton's administration against the first four years of Bush 43. I decided to take a look at the numbers to see if there is any sense to be made out of this.

As I got into researching America's war dead and wounded, I started to feel like Tom Hanks in the movie Saving Private Ryan where his men are pawing through the dogtags of KIA’s while wounded GI’s walk past them. The numbers mean nothing outside a long and careful consideration of what these men and women were fighting for. And I spent a good part of the afternoon doing just that. But I found it necessary to look at the whole grim picture of the sacrifices that so many have made.

The Department of Veterans Affairs shows US killed and wounded as follows:

America's Wars Total
U.S. Military Service During Wartime 43,185,893
Battle Deaths 652,696
Other Deaths (In Theater) 14,416
Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 525,223
Non-mortal Woundings 1,447,281

Battle deaths 53,402
Other deaths in service 63,114
Non-mortal woundings 204,002

Battle deaths 291,557
Other deaths in service 113,842
Non-mortal woundings 671,846

Korean War
Battle deaths 33,741
Other deaths in service 20,557
Non-mortal woundings 103,284

Battle deaths 47,410
Other deaths in service 42,785
Non-mortal woundings 153,303

The following statistics can be found here:

1992-1996 Clinton
Battle deaths 1
Other deaths in service 4,301
Non-mortal woundings n/a

2000-2004 Bush
Battle deaths 1,102
Other deaths in service 4,085
Non-mortal woundings n/a

Note: record keeping for wars prior to WWI did not account for other service deaths. Not until the Korean War were other service deaths categorized as theater and non-theater)

Historically during times when America is at war, other service deaths run 83% of battle deaths. Since Clinton was not a war time president, we cannot evaluate his administration as compared to other presidents. And to tell the truth, after pondering these numbers for the past hour and a half, I'm not interested.

But the first four years of Bush’s administration are really interesting. For the very first time, battle deaths are not only lower, but almost four times lower (3.7x) then other service deaths.

This is an amazing tribute to the technology and tactics of the US armed services.

As of March, the latest figures for the Iraqi War losses show 2,319 battle deaths and 16,653 non-mortal woundings. No numbers are available for other service deaths.

I apologize for the awful statistical formatting. I survive on Excel spreadsheets at work and I promise to figure out how to get one in a post.

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