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May 26, 2004

Let's go for a little perspective here...

From todays New York Daily News:

Terrible Tally: 800 U.S. Deaths In Iraq War

By Kenneth R. Bazinet, Daily News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - America is about to pass - or may already have passed - another sad milestone in Iraq: 800 dead soldiers.

The Pentagon's official death toll, usually a few days behind the actual number, stood at 797 yesterday. But a reliable count maintained at the lunaville.org Web site, which monitors news reports and compares them with the Pentagon's running tally, put the real number at 803.

Showing just how disproportionate the U.S. sacrifice is in Iraq, the total number of deaths for the other countries in the Iraq coalition is 110.

D-Day: 1500 Dead in one day.
WWII: An average of 400 dead, per day, for 1000 days in a row (counts non-battle deaths, 300 combat dead per day).

Single bloodiest day in American history:
Battle of Antietam, 23,000 fell, killed or wounded, in a single day.

Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, 7,000 Union soldiers fell in 20 minutes.

Okinawa, as I observed in an earlier post some time ago:

Okinawa was the largest amphibious invasion of the Pacific campaign and the last major campaign of the Pacific War. More ships were used, more troops put ashore, more supplies transported, more bombs dropped, more naval guns fired against shore targets than any other operation in the Pacific. More people died during the Battle of Okinawa than all those killed during the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Casualties totaled more than 38,000 Americans wounded and 12,000 killed or missing, more than 107,000 Japanese and Okinawan conscripts killed, and perhaps 100,000 Okinawan civilians who perished in the battle.

The battle of Okinawa proved to be the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. Thirty-four allied ships and craft of all types had been sunk, mostly by kamikazes, and 368 ships and craft damaged. The fleet had lost 763 aircraft. Total American casualties in the operation numbered over 12,000 killed [including nearly 5,000 Navy dead and almost 8,000 Marine and Army dead] and 36,000 wounded. Navy casualties were tremendous, with a ratio of one killed for one wounded as compared to a one to five ratio for the Marine Corps. Combat stress also caused large numbers of psychiatric casualties, a terrible hemorrhage of front-line strength. There were more than 26,000 non-battle casualties. In the battle of Okinawa, the rate of combat losses due to battle stress, expressed as a percentage of those caused by combat wounds, was 48% [in the Korean War the overall rate was about 20-25%, and in the Yom Kippur War it was about 30%]. American losses at Okinawa were so heavy as to illicite [sic] Congressional calls for an investigation into the conduct of the military commanders. Not surprisingly, the cost of this battle, in terms of lives, time, and material, weighed heavily in the decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan just six weeks later. (Global Security.org)

Take a look at Vietnam, by month, by year.

This is not a bloodbath. It is actually one of the more bloodless wars we've conducted.

Which is of little consolation to the dead, wounded, and missing and their families, but is important to note, nonetheless.

More in the extended post.

From VA data, by war. (Note, I screwed this up earlier by not multiplying my results by 100, and still sticking a percent sign in there! So, rather than further confusing people by just removing the percent signs, I fixed the math...)

American Revolution (1775–1783)
Total servicemembers 217,000
Battle deaths 4,435 ========> 2%
Nonmortal woundings 6,188

War of 1812 (1812–1815)
Total servicemembers 286,730
Battle deaths 2,260 ========>0.7%
Nonmortal woundings 4,505

Indian Wars (approx. 1817–1898)
Total servicemembers 106,000
Battle deaths 1,001 ========>0.9%

Mexican War (1846–1848)
Total servicemembers 78,718
Battle deaths 1,733 =========>2%
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 11,550
Nonmortal woundings 4,152

Civil War (1861–1865)
Total servicemembers (Union) 2,213,363
Battle deaths (Union) 140,414 =========>6%
Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Union) 224,097
Nonmortal woundings (Union) 281,881
Total servicemembers (Conf.) 1,050,000
Battle deaths (Conf.) 74,524 =========>7%
Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Conf.) 59,2972
Nonmortal woundings (Conf.) unknown

Spanish-American War (1898–1902)
Total servicemembers 306,760
Battle deaths 385 =========>0.1%
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 2,061
Nonmortal woundings 1,662

World War I (1917–1918)
Total servicemembers 4,734,991
Battle deaths 53,402 =========>1%
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 63,114
Nonmortal woundings 204,002

World War II (1940–1945)
Total servicemembers 16,112,566
Battle deaths 291,557 ==========>1%
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 113,842
Nonmortal woundings 671,846

Korean War (1950–1953)
Total servicemembers 5,720,000
Serving in-theater 1,789,000
Battle deaths 33,741 ==========>0.5%/2%
Other deaths in service (theater) 2,827
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 17,730
Nonmortal woundings 103,284

Vietnam War (1964–1975)
Total servicemembers 8,744,000
Serving in-theater 3,403,000
Battle deaths 47,410 ===========>0.5%/1%
Other deaths in service (theater) 10,789
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 32,000
Nonmortal woundings 153,303


Gulf War (1990–1991)
Total servicemembers 2,183,000
Serving in-theater 665,476
Battle deaths 147 ===========>0.02%/0.006%
Other deaths in service (theater) 382
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 1,565
Nonmortal woundings 467


America's Wars Total (Less conflicts after Gulf War 1)
Military service during war 42,348,460
Battle deaths 651,008 =============>1.5%
Other deaths in service (theater) 13,998
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 525,256
Nonmortal woundings 1,431,290

Living war veterans 17,578,5003
Living veterans 25,038,459

With a current end strength of around 1,400,000, battle deaths stand at 0.05% of the total force. With around 130,000 in-country, 0.6%

And that's not even getting into controlled numbers (per hundred thousand) to get at the relative impact on the population of the nation as a whole those numbers represent.

Just some perspective.