The war in Iraq started 6 years ago. As is noted in the CNN article, it is one of America’s longest wars. However, it is one of the least deadly wars we’ve fought. There have been 4,261 American fatalities in just under 2200 days. That’s less than 2 deaths a day (of Americans – there have been many more Iraqis killed). Any death is too much but we have to face the truth that as far as America is concerned, this has been a very “safe” war. It cost us a lot of money but can you put a price tag on freedom and democracy? I have to add that I don’t think we should have started the war in Iraq but we did so the point is moot.
If the troops had been home instead, quite a few of them would have died in car accidents or other accidents, statistically speaking. 18-30 year old men are naturally quite accident-prone so it’s a statistical given that there would be many accident-related and natural deaths in that group. There are about 42,000,000 people between the ages of 15 and 25 in the United States. While that include people a little younger (and not quite as old as some of the soldiers in Iraq, it will serve as a decent estimate for this post). Roughly 162 per 100,000 people between 15 and 25 die each year in the United States (Source). According to one NewsWeek source, by December 2007 there had been 1.5 million troops deployed to Iraq. This number is higher than another one I found (500,000 by July 2006); it doesn’t seem likely that there were 1,000,000 different troops deployed in the subsequent 16 months.
For my analysis, I’ll make an estimate and say there have been 1,100,000 deployments since the start of the war. That means that at those numbers, if the soldiers were all home from Iraq (and not deployed elsewhere) we would expect approximately 1,800 deaths. That’s possibly high because the number of deployments does not equal number of people. I’ll be a little more conservative and say there have been 900,000 different people from the U.S. deployed. That means there would have been about 1450 deaths over the same time period if all the troops were home.
My numbers could be off because I haven’t found a good definitive source for the number of individuals deployed in the past 6 years in Iraq. The number could be anywhere between 700,000 and 1,700,000, which is not very precise. My numbers are also off because the demographic data I used to calculate my numbers was a combination of 15-19 and 20-24 age groups. The military tends to be 18-25 with a significant number on into their 30s. Most are in their 20s though. The numbers should be accurate enough for this informal analysis.
In any case, this means that of the 4,261 deaths in Iraq, the number of deaths above and beyond a national baserate of death for that age group is about 2,700. That’s still a lot of people but overall it’s been a fairly “safe” war. [Note: I know there have been many physical and psychological injuries caused by the war; my post was focused strictly on deaths].