Iraq body count comparisons

| Comments (1) | TrackBacks (48) |
Allan Schiffman points to an article in Slate that argues that Iraq casualties aren't "light":
Generational contrasts are implicit today when casualties in Iraq are referred to as light, either on their own or in comparison to Vietnam. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, for example, last July downplayed the intensity of the Iraq war on this basis, arguing that "it would take over 73 years for U.S. forces to incur the level of combat deaths suffered in the Vietnam war."

But a comparative analysis of U.S. casualty statistics from Iraq tells a different story. After factoring in medical, doctrinal, and technological improvements, infantry duty in Iraq circa 2004 comes out just as intense as infantry duty in Vietnam circa 1966and in some cases more lethal. Even discrete engagements, such as the battle of Hue City in 1968 and the battles for Fallujah in 2004, tell a similar tale: Today's grunts are patrolling a battlefield every bit as deadly as the crucible their fathers faced in Southeast Asia.

The authors point out (no doubt correctly) that improvements in medical care, military technology and the way we're fighting the war account for the difference. No doubt that's true, but whether it's relevant depends on your perspective, and it seems that the authors aren't really addressing the CSBA's argument head-on.

Let's forget about Iraq for a second and consider a simpler case: farming. Improved technology has dramatically improved the past 100 years with the % of the workforce who farms going from 42% in 1900 to 3% in 1998. Now, let's say for the sake of argument that the farm accident rate/worker hasn't changed (I'm too lazy to look it up). Nevertheless, we can produce the same amount of food for less than 1/10th the cost in terms of dead farmers. Now, Phil Carter comes along and complains that if we used 1900 farming technology we would have the same death rate, but we're not using 1900 farming technology, so it really doesn't matter. The bottom line is that we're much more efficient.

Similarly, if new technology lets us perform the same kind of operation (ignoring for a moment whether Viet Nam and Iraq are equally successful) with less manpower and (more importantly) less deaths, that's a good thing, and it's perfectly reasonable to note that. If we can sustain that rate, then we really are more militarily efficient and that enhances our military capability, which is good.

That said, I think there are several reasonable take-home points from Carter's article:

  • The "intensity" of the combat may be just as high in Iraq as in Viet Nam. This is relevant to the extent to which intensity has harmful effects on soldiers, either psychologically or because the nonfatal wounds are still very damaging. If our death rate is much lower than Viet Nam but the maiming rate is much higher, that doesn't buy us much (note to self: research maiming rates).
  • Up till now we've been mostly fighting the war using the new doctrine that Carter describes (massive air power, etc.) If we have to fight a lot more Fallujah-type battles and those aren't much better than the comparable battles in Viet Nam, then we're left with just the medical and armor improvements, which appear to reduce deaths by only about a factor of two.
  • We can't use the death rate as a proxy for the success of Iraq vs. Viet Nam becuase the rates are incommensurate.

However, I don't think it's fair to complain that without the technical advancements we've made our death rate would be much higher. After all, that's why we introduced the technology in the first place.

48 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Iraq body count comparisons.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.educatedguesswork.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/58

You can also visit the pages in the field of online poker interest only mortgage Read More

mortgage rates from mortgage rates on March 4, 2005 10:42 PM

You are invited to visit some information about auto loan cash loan college loan Read More

omaha 8 or better game online from omaha 8 or better game online on March 29, 2005 4:15 PM
bad credit instant loan from bad credit instant loan on April 13, 2005 5:42 AM

You may find it interesting to check the pages about al mortgage online rate auto refinancing Read More

free texas holdem tournaments from free texas holdem tournaments on April 23, 2005 2:27 PM

You may find it interesting to check some relevant pages dedicated to texas holdem just for fun texas holdem game Read More

poker 7 card stud for dummies game from poker 7 card stud for dummies game on April 25, 2005 8:11 AM

In your free time, check out the sites in the field of virtual texas holdem 4 free tournament Read More

black jack strategy chart from black jack strategy chart on May 7, 2005 12:17 PM

You can also check the pages in the field of grand casino internet casinos Read More

online poker from online poker on May 31, 2005 3:56 PM

In your free time, check the pages about online poker poker games Read More

free poker chip set from free poker chip set on June 5, 2005 7:50 AM

You can also check some information about strip poker poker poker tables Read More

poker games from poker games on June 13, 2005 12:07 PM

Please check some relevant pages about poker games party poker Read More

online pharmacy from online pharmacy on June 14, 2005 3:48 PM

You are invited to check the sites in the field of online pharmacy pharmacy Read More

gambling casino online from gambling casino online on June 16, 2005 9:15 PM

You can also take a look at the sites about slot machines casino chips Read More

online gambling from online gambling on June 25, 2005 3:47 AM

Take your time to take a look at the sites on casino free slots roulette Read More

casino from casino on July 8, 2005 12:44 AM

You are invited to check out some helpful info about blackjack free slots Read More

online place wager from online place wager on August 6, 2005 12:56 AM

online place wager Read More

accident investigation from accident investigation on August 17, 2005 6:49 AM

accident investigation Read More

discount dental plans from discount dental plans on August 27, 2005 4:30 PM

please visit Dental Plans Read More

free online texas holdem poker from free online texas holdem poker on September 17, 2005 7:26 AM

Please take a look at some information about 2005 world series of poker Read More

professional online gambling from professional online gambling on September 29, 2005 4:54 AM

Please visit some relevant pages in the field of best online gambling sites Read More

halloween masks from halloween masks on October 6, 2005 10:27 PM

halloween masks Read More

prescription medicine from prescription medicine on October 10, 2005 3:00 AM

prescription medicine Read More

forex trading system from forex trading system on October 15, 2005 2:21 AM

forex trading system lovely and shepherd's-purse, sthickles of disclaimed forex trading system beneath amisisses o Read More

Tranny Surprise from Tranny Surprise on October 28, 2005 12:35 PM

I dont believe you Read More

Gaza killing raises fears on stability after pull-out Read More

Scores of 'fighters' held in Iraq Read More

Japan post office's rural redoubt Read More

Cheap Generic Levitra from Cheap Generic Levitra on November 11, 2005 9:15 AM

Kenya's poverty 'not a surprise' Read More

christmas trees from christmas trees on November 21, 2005 1:17 AM

christmas trees Read More

TITLE: hoodia diet pills URL: http://www.freehost.ag/hoodia/pure-hoodia.htm IP: 72.36.222.3 BLOG NAME: Hoodia DATE: 12/09/2005 12:44:54 PM Read More

nfl betting from nfl football betting on December 10, 2005 11:53 AM

TITLE: nfl betting URL: http://www.freehost.ag/nfl/footballbetting.htm IP: 72.36.222.3 BLOG NAME: nfl football betting DATE: 12/10/2005 11:53:33 AM Read More

replica watches from how to buy replica watches on December 11, 2005 10:47 AM

TITLE: replica watches URL: http://replica.freeownhost.com/replica-watch.htm IP: 72.36.222.3 BLOG NAME: how to buy replica watches DATE: 12/11/2005 10:47:13 AM Read More

Girl snakesex Free porn daddy & daughter Xrated cartoon & drawings Boy rapeing girls... Read More

replica watch from replica watches on December 21, 2005 12:25 PM

TITLE: replica watch URL: http://www.freehost.ag/best-replica/watches.htm IP: 67.169.211.170 BLOG NAME: replica watches DATE: 12/21/2005 12:25:07 PM Read More

digital cameras from top digital cameras on December 22, 2005 12:45 AM

TITLE: digital cameras URL: http://www.20mbweb.com/Computers/digital-cameras/ IP: 204.113.91.19 BLOG NAME: top digital cameras DATE: 12/22/2005 12:45:57 AM Read More

TITLE: best levitra URL: http://www.b-link.ch/levitra/ IP: 192.165.166.4 BLOG NAME: Levitra Blog DATE: 12/28/2005 02:35:38 PM Read More

herbal pills Read More

Thank you for your interest in best roulette. To see the best roulette collections, visit best roulette. Thank you for your interest in http://blackjack.bac8.com/best-roulette.html. Testimony i... Read More

tiffany jewelry from tiffany jewelry on January 27, 2006 4:50 AM

TITLE: tiffany jewelry URL: http://jewelry.je.funpic.de/tiffany-jewelry.htm IP: 194.133.131.69 BLOG NAME: tiffany jewelry DATE: 01/27/2006 04:50:52 AM Read More

internet slots from internet slots on January 27, 2006 7:27 AM

Thank you for your interest in internet slots. You may now proceed to download your free trial version of internet slots by clicking on the link below. Unless you become as little Children,... Read More

Buy Phentermine Overnight Delivery from Buy Phentermine Overnight Delivery on January 28, 2006 2:27 AM

offers you overnight delivery anywhere in the US Read More

Thank you for your interest in play slots. We are an play slots company that provides play slots operations. Hello, and welcome to http://internet-casino.mcr8.com/play-slots.html. I've creat... Read More

Thanks for your interest in craps online. The Page You Just Searched For Does Not Exist! If you decide to keep the craps online service, use your Visa, MasterCard or American Express card at ... Read More

bad credit home loan refinancing from bad credit home loan refinancing on February 25, 2006 12:27 PM

TITLE: bad credit home loan refinancing URL: http://www.theguestbook.com/read.php/614174 IP: 72.232.81.78 BLOG NAME: bad credit home loan refinancing DATE: 02/25/2006 12:27:37 PM Read More

1 Comments

Another interpretation is that we're running a smaller operation than we were in Vietnam, and it's going about equally well.

Leave a comment