August 7, 2008
Recent media attention has focused on the fact that the number of soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan has recently surpasses the number of soldiers killed in Iraq. However, extrapolating trends from US casualty data is extremely complex. This analysis shows how different ways of counting casualties alter the analysis of trends in recent conflicts.
One consistent result is the importance of considering wounded in action relative to killed in action in measuring the intensity of combat, and the level of sacrifice made by the US military. The trend in total killed and wounded is far more relevant than the trend in killed alone. Furthermore, the a comparison of the level of casualties compared to the number of troops in theater reveals higher relative casualties in Afghanistan for most of the past 12 months.
This report uses US combat data because no similar detailed trend data are available on Allied, Iraqi, and Afghan military and civilian casualties. It in no way is intended to understate their importance or the sacrifices involved.
The report can be found at: