The Military Death Toll While Enforcing the Occupation of Iraq:
"With the military death toll mounting in Iraq, Congressional leaders are sheepishly conceding the need to raise the current $12,400 paid as a "death gratuity" – cash to cover immediate expenses – to the spouses and children of men and women killed in the course of service. Public awareness of such a token amount for the ultimate sacrifice has been quietly building, prompting Senate Republicans to vow to raise this one-time, tax-free payment to $100,000. This is more in line with some of the lump-sum payments to families of police officers, firefighters and other civilian responders who are killed on the job."
A Weekly Data Sheet of US-uk Military Fatalities Post-May 1, 2003
by Paul de Rooij
Pricing the Ultimate Sacrifice, New York Times, Jan. 26, 2005
Comment: To place this into context, it should be mentioned that at the same time this "death gratuity" increases, Congress is debating reducing veterans' entitlements, services, and compensation.
Derek Seidman: One thing that doesn't get enough honest attention is the number of soldiers wounded in Iraq, and what this really means. So far, well over 10,000 soldiers have been "wounded". You worked as a medic, so you have a good idea of what this means.
Patrick Resta: One thing I want to make absolutely clear is my skepticism that this number is anywhere near accurate. An injury can be anything from eardrums ruptured in an explosion, gunshot wounds, shrapnel injuries, blast injuries, and on and on. Obviously, this number makes no accounting for those that are mentally traumatized by what they have seen, and the numbers that have substance abuse problems or even end up taking their own lives. Just as in Vietnam it will take years before the true effects of this conflict are known. They will continue to manifest themselves in increasing numbers of individuals as more people return home. Or more importantly, return home for the second or third time from Iraq. The VA was under manned and under funded well before September 11th, and is simply not equipped to deal with what is coming in the next few years.
— Derek Seidman, An Interview with Army Medic, Patrick Resta, CounterPunch, Jan. 21, 2005.
Commentary on the developments of the week
|US-uk Military Fatality Forecast (using data thru 26-Jan-05)
|Period from 01-May-03 thru:||Fatality forecast|
|May 1, 2005
|Dec. 31, 2005
|The forecast is based on a simple linear regression — it doesn’t attempt to be fancy in forecasting the threat potential, etc. However, even such a simple method yields good forecasts. The data used for the forecast is »daily« data — performs better than monthly data.|
NB: the point of this forecast is to give an indication of the terrible toll this occupation will exact; it is by no means presented in a callous fashion.
|Main foreign military forces in Iraq
||Dec. 2004 
|"Contractors" & mercenaries
||20,000 – 30,000
||Oct. 14, 2004 
||Oct. 14, 2004 
 US to deploy more troops in Iraq, AlJazeera, Dec. 2, 2004. 150,000 within weeks. NB: the previous highest number was 148,000 in May 2003.
 Phyllis Bennis on Oct. 13, 2004 stated that the second largest contingent of soldiers were "contractors" – there are more of them than UK soldiers. She quoted an estimate of 20,000; at present 17 contractors are dying p/month. Ha'aretz quoted an estimate of 30,000 in July 2004.
 BBC, Oct. 14, 2004. NB: this is a likely an overestimate at present since the UK has pulled out one of its units without replacement. NB: On Jan. 10, 2005, G. Hoon, the Minister of Defense, stated that 400 more troops would be sent to Iraq. He refused to answer how many troops would be stationed in Iraq. The 400 seem to replace some of the troops taken out in December, thus the total must remain around 9000.
|Cost of the US-Iraq war|
|Through June 2004 
|Estimate through 27-Jan-05 
| Source: Phyllis Bennis
 Updating using the estimates from the "Times Square" cost meter which is based on the following formula: "increases at a rate of $177 million per day, $7.4 million per hour and $122,820 per minute". Please note that Bennis's estimate refers only to the US budget allocations, and refer only to costs once the war started (Source: personal communication). These figures exclude: lead-up to the war, increasing "security" costs in the US, reduced trade with Arab countries, etc. The true cost of this war, if it can be computed at all, is much higher.
NB: The Pentagon recently reported that the cost p/month of the war had gone from US$4bn to US$5.8bn. Since these figures were reported by UPI, they will not be used until better estimates are published elsewhere. The current monthly cost estimate used to generate the current figure is about US$5.3bn/month.
Alternative estimates can be found here.
The 31 fatalities in the helicopter crash were listed here as hostile in nature. CentCom hasn't ruled on the cause of the crash, and this info will be amended as soon as the info becomes available.
Note also on the increase in the "death gratuity", but at the same time Congress is deliberating on reducing veterans' benefits, social services and entitlements.
Remembrance down the Memory Hole…
Several of the "remembrance" websites are starting to neglect updating their output. The Seattle Times website has not been updated since March 2004.
Why this data sheet? The US military doesn’t allow the compilation and publication of Iraqi casualties, and it is very difficult to know how bloody the occupation of Iraq has resulted. The only indication of the intensity of the conflict are the military fatalities. We can use this as a proxy measure to determine if the occupation is a bloody quagmire or if the dust is finally settling on the rubble.
Furthermore, as demonstrated elsewhere, the Pentagon and their media surrogates are attempting to hide the true extent of the carnage among its soldiers. It is very difficult to find accurate fatality figures, the classification of fatalities leads to exclusion in the official death tally (“accidental” deaths are excluded), and the number of errors creeping into the official fatality reports is increasing, e.g., fatalities originally reported, but then not confirmed; long delays in reporting; excluding the subsequent deaths of wounded soldiers after they were transferred out of Iraq. If it is only the American and British fatalities that are going to stop this bloody occupation of Iraq then it behooves us to amplify the information on these fatalities — primarily to counteract the attempts by the Pentagon and its media surrogates to cover this over.
Please note that the graph
updates on a weekly cycle ending on Wednesdays.
Another means to determine the intensity of the resistance against the US-uk troops is to analyze the average daily death toll for each month (first column). The center column pertains to a linear trend of the average fatality rate – enables one to obtain some (limited) perspective of how this will continue. The last column is the percentage of “hostile” fatalities out of the total for the month.
||Average US-uk fatalities per day
(inc. hostile and other; 1-May-03 thru 26-Jan-05)
|Linear trend of av. fatalities p/day
Pct of fatalities due to hostile action
|| 23% (!!)|
|| 80% (!!)|
|| 90% (!!)|
|| 86%* (!!)|
The trend was calculated using monthly data using a simple linear regression (using only complete monthly data). The
forecast and the trends indicated in the graph were derived from daily data. There have been some amendments to the early data because CentCom recently released data pertaining to earlier fatalities.
Asterisk indicates a statistic was computed on incomplete monthly data.
(!!): simply not credible.
(d): long delays in reporting.
The US and British armies are professional. (NB: a propaganda-compliant means of referring to them is: “volunteer army,” which they are not.) As soon as an army hires soldiers then there is a concern that it will not be representative of the population at large, and that it will hire minorities or poor in disproportionate numbers. The table below provides the race/ethnic composition of the US-uk fatalities, and the main objective is to determine if some minority groups are over-represented. The reader is responsible for the interpretation.
Race/ethnic group of US-uk soldiers
(1-May-03 – 26-Jan-05)
|Black / Afro-American
Classification done by author from
photographs, last names, and additional archival search. This is an
imperfect means of classification, but no other source is available.
This article deals specifically with the US Army composition and that of the fatalities.
Alternative official source.
|Age of US-uk military fatalities post 1-May-03 thru 26-Jan-05|
|age <= 25
|25 < age <= 35
|35 < age <= 45
|45 < age <= 55
|55 < age <= 65
Is president Bush empathy-impaired or maybe callous? Judge for yourself.
Number of times president
Bush has visited wounded soldiers or been present at funerals since May
|Jog around the White House with veteran limb-amputee with leg prostheses
Source: White House list of events schedule is checked regularly.
The propaganda-compliant terminology for the post-May 1st period is “after the end of major combat operations.” Of course, conceding that the US is occupying Iraq would mean that another justification for this war was a sham. This is the reason the common media terminology aims to avoid the usage of the word “occupation”.
The military fatality statistics are collated for the post May-1st
period because this refers exclusively to the enforcement of the occupation
of Iraq. Including the earlier fatalities would be confusing because it
would include those incurred during the “hot war”. The nature of these
fatalities is different, and therefore they should be analyzed separately.
Furthermore, the concern now is to end the occupation of Iraq, and therefore
Americans should be aware of the cost of this current policy.
Honest accounting would dictate the inclusion of all the military fatalities enforcing the occupation, and thus include British, Italians, Spanish, etc. It would be ideal to be able to include mercenary fatalities too — alas, no data is available. However, there is much work involved in collating quality data, and hence the data was restricted to the US and “uk” (yes, lowercase “uk” because they are less than 10% of the “coalition” contingent.)
NB: Whereas in previous conflicts “casualties” referred to both fatalities and wounded soldiers, in the current Pentagon arrogant and grisly accounting the wounded soldiers have been ignored. The statistics it makes available refer only to US military fatalities.
This analysis also aims to be as accurate as possible, and any observation about its accuracy should sent to Amplifications & Corrections.
On the data used. All entries are obtained from the US and UK military websites in the list found below. All the soldiers killed in Iraq or who were listed as “supporting the operations in Iraq” are included here — that is, some soldiers killed in Kuwait or in the Persian Gulf were also included here. Furthermore, if there is a good indication that a person was directly employed by the US-uk armies, then their fatality was also included. For example, in August a translator wearing a US army uniform was killed — he was included in this tally. There are a few instances where via Reuters or AP references can be found to fatalities, but subsequently these are not found in the official military sites. The unconfirmed fatalities are included if found in two or more reputable sources, e.g., Reuters, AP, BBC. All entries have been cross-checked with the LunaVille database, and there is a less than 1% discrepancy.
Articles providing further background information:
- Teri Wills Allison, The Costs of War, TomDispatch, Oct. 20, 2004.
- Alan Bavley, New technology and medical practices save lives in Iraq, Knight Ridder, Dec. 17, 2003.
- AP, Number Of Troops Hurt In Iraq Jumps, AP, Apr. 24, 2004.
- BBC, Five soldiers die in Iraqi blast, BBC Online, Mar. 31, 2004.
- BBC, Pentagon fury at war dead photos, BBC Online, Apr. 23, 2004.
- Walden Bello, With the US Army on Trial, Can “Fragging” be far behind?, FocusWeb.org, May 16, 2004.
- Bryan Bender, US Casualty Rate High Since Handover: Long guerrilla war is feared in Iraq, CommonDreams, July 19, 2004.
- Mark Benjamin, Press Reports on U.S. Casualties: About 17,000 Short, UPI Says, Editor&Publisher, Sept. 15, 2004. DemocracyNow audio discussion with Benjamin on the same subject. [P. de Rooij comment: the only thing that is a shame is the source of this report. See UPI info]
- Mark Benjamin, Quagmire in Iraq: Casualties up to 11,700, DemocracyNow, Apr. 2, 2004.
- Bill Berkowitz, 919 and counting, WorkingForChange, Aug. 4, 2004
- Bill Berkowitz, An occupation by any other name , WorkingForChange, July 27, 2004
- Bill Berkowitz, Mercenaries ‘R’ Us, AlterNet, Mar. 24, 2004.
- Bill Berkowitz, The Military's Mounting Mental Health Problems, AlterNet, Apr. 29, 2004.
- Christopher Brauchli, White House AWOL on Casualty Numbers, CommonDreams, Dec. 27, 2003.
- Drew Brown, U.S. Deaths from Enemy Fire at Highest Level Since Vietnam, CommonDreams, Apr. 17, 2004.
- Jonathan Brown, Was the tragic suicide of a TA soldier his final protest against an unjust war?, The Independent, Aug. 13, 2004.
- Rinker Buck, Researchers Finding Surprises In Figures On Deaths In Iraq, CTNow, Sept. 28, 2004.
- Lakshmi Chaudhry, The Unknown Soldiers, AlterNet, Oct. 21, 2004.
- Nick Childs, US army acts on soldier suicides, BBC Online, Mar. 26, 2004.
- Mark Clinton and Tony Udell, A Casualty Of Bush's War, ZNet, Sept. 30, 2004.
- Partick Cockburn, US Death Toll in Iraq Hits 135 in November, CounterPunch, Dec. 2, 2004
- Patrick Cockburn, Despair in Iraq over the forgotten victims of US invasion, The Independent, Sept. 9, 2004.
- Patrick Cockburn, US Death Toll in Iraq Nears 1000, CounterPunch, Sept. 7, 2004
- Patrick Cockburn, The US Death Toll Mounts, CounterPunch, Apr. 7, 2004.
- Patrick Cockburn, The pretence of an independent Iraq, The Independent, June 22, 2004.
- Juan Cole, Bloody Sunday: 110 Dead in Iraq, 200 Wounded, Informed Comment, Sept. 13, 2004.
- Juan Cole, Iraq as the 51st state (an interview), Asia Times, June 18, 2004.
- Nicole Colson, Maimed for Oil and Empire, DissidentVoice, Oct. 12, 2004.
- Sandro Contenta, U.S. casualties grim cost of Iraq war, Toronto Star, Sept. 26, 2004.
- Evan Derkacz, The Grief of Baghdad, AlterNet, Oct. 5, 2004.
- Charles Duhigg, “Enemy Contact. Kill 'em, Kill 'em.”, LA Times, July 18, 2004.
- E&P staff, Press Routinely Undercounts U.S. Casualties in Iraq, Editor & Publisher, Nov. 25, 2004.
- Barbara Ehrenreich, Bush’s Odd Warfare State, CommonDreams, Mar. 31, 2004.
- Ivan Eland, Body Count Redux, DissidentVoice, Feb. 18, 2004.
- Gene Emery, Stress Disorders Hit U.S. Troops in Iraq - Study, ABC News, June 30, 2004.
- Tom Engelhart, September 33rd, TomDispatch, Sept. 11, 2004.
- John Aloysius Farrell, Deaths mounting, as is indifference, The Denver Post, Aug. 8, 2004.
- Robert Fisk, ‘Can't Blair see that this country is about to explode? Can't Bush?’, The Independent, Aug. 1, 2004.
- Robert Fisk, Unreported war: US document reveals scale of conflict, The Independent, July 29, 2004.
- Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn, Deaths of scores of mercenaries not reported, The Star, Apr. 13, 2004.
- Atul Gawande, Casualties of War — Military Care for the Wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 351:2471-2475 No. 24, Dec. 9, 2004
- George Gedda, (bottom section): U.S., Halliburton officials confirm more bodies found , Durango Herald, Apr. 14, 2004.
- Stan Goff, Body Count 1001, CounterPunch, Sept. 8, 2004
- Suzanne Goldenberg, Pentagon counts the psychological cost of Iraq war as survey reveals suicide levels, The Guardian, Mar. 29, 2004.
- Suzanne Goldenberg, Broken US troops face bigger enemy at home, The Guardian, Apr. 3, 2004.
- Juan Gonzales, Daughter of Soldier Contaminated with Depleted Uranium in Iraq Born with Deformities, DemocracyNow, Sept. 30, 2004.
- Juan Gonzalez, US Soldiers Contaminated With Depleted Uranium Speak Out, DemocracyNow, Apr. 5, 2004.
- Adam Gorlick, Young Marine hanged himself after tour in Iraq, Lexington Herald, Nov. 25, 2004.
- Erik Gustafson, US Casualties in Iraq, Informed Comment, Sept. 13, 2004.
- David H. Hackworth, ‘With Deepest Sympathy’, DefenseWatch, Nov. 22, 2004.
- Jeff Horwitz, Hiding the bodies, Salon, Sept. 8, 2004
- Kim Housego, New Iraq attacks are more sophisticated, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sept. 15, 2004.
- Pauline Jelinek, Senate refuses to overturn Pentagon ban on media coverage of war victims' return, Boston Globe, June 21, 2004.
- Robert Jensen, Support the Troops, CommonDreams, Apr. 8, 2004.
- Matt Kelley, US soldiers’ suicide rate up in Iraq, AP, Jan. 14, 2004.
- Senator Ted Kennedy, Speech on Iraq Policy, George Washington Univ., Sept. 27, 2004.
- Paul Krugman, What About Iraq?, New York Times, Aug. 6, 2004.
- Tom Lasseter, Marines prepare for heavy casualties in battle to retake Fallujah, SilliconValley.com, Nov. 4, 2004.
- Tom Lasseter, Among Troops, Growing Doubts About Mission, Leaders Who Sent Them, CommonDreams, July 21, 2004.
- Tom Lasseter, In the face of stubborn insurgency, troops scale back Anbar patrols, Knight Ridder Newspapers, July 20, 2004.
- Tom Lasseter, Despite handover, U.S. troops battle insurgents with no end in sight, Knight Ridder Newspapers, July 5, 2004.
- Matthew McAllester, They're burned, or blinded, or sparring with death,
Newsday, Sept. 27, 2004
- Patrick J. McDonnell, Sovereign Iraq Just as Deadly to U.S. Forces, LA Times, Aug. 31, 2004.
- Patrick J. McDonnell, No Shortage of Fighters in Iraq's Wild West, LA Times, July 25, 2004.
- Renae Merle, Contract Workers Are War's Forgotten Iraq Deaths Create Subculture of Loss, July 31, 2004
- Seumas Milne, Bush and Blair have lit a fire which could consume them, The Guardian, Apr. 8, 2004.
- Judy Muller, The Invisible Injury, ABC News, Oct. 6, 2004.
- Ralph Nader, An Open Letter to George Bush, CommonDreams, Dec. 8, 2004
- Ralph Nader, The Muslim Vote in Election 2004 (transcript), CNI, June 28, 2004.
- New York Dialy News (no author), Army to test NY Guard unit, Apr. 5, 2004.
- George E. Peoples, M.D., James R. Jezior, M.D., and Craig D. Shriver, M.D., Caring for the Wounded in Iraq — A Photo Essay, New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 351:2476-2480, No. 24, Dec. 9, 2004.
- Jack Random, Casualties of War, CounterPunch, Jan. 12, 2005.
- Thomas E. Ricks, U.S. troops' death rate rising in Iraq, Washington Post, Sept. 9, 2004
- Wilson Ring, Widow of Maine Soldier Urges Americans to Question Policy, CommonDreams.org, May 6, 2004.
- Paul Craig Roberts, Is the Bush Administration Certifiable?, CounterPunch, Dec. 6, 2004.
- Paul de Rooij, For Whom the Death Tolls: Deliberate Undercounting of “Coalition” Fatalities, DissidentVoice, Jan. 24, 2004.
- Paul de Rooij, Predictable Propaganda: Four Months of US Occupation of Iraq, DissidentVoice, Sept. 3, 2003.
- Paul de Rooij, The Parade of the Body Bags, DissidentVoice, Aug. 2, 2003.
- Matthew Rothschild, Interview with Phyllis Bennis: Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War, Progressive Radio, July 13, 2004.
- Natasha Saulnier, The Forgotten Soldiers of Operation "Iraqi Freedom", GregPalast.com, Mar. 7, 2004.
- Thomas F. Schaller, 2004 Iraq fatalities eclipse 2003, The Gadflyer, Aug. 26, 2004.
- Christopher Scheer, Bush Ignores Soldiers’ Burials, AlterNet, Oct. 30, 2003.
- Derek Seidman, An Interview with an Anti-war Veteran from the Iraq War Jim Talib, Lefthook, Nov. 29, 2004
- NEW: Derek Seidman, An Interview with Army Medic, Patrick Resta, CounterPunch, Jan. 21, 2005.
- Scott Shane, A Flood of Troubled Soldiers Is in the Offing, Experts Predict, New York Times, Dec. 16, 2004.
- Bob Simon, Iraq: The Uncounted, CBS 60 Minutes, Nov. 21, 2004
- Matthew B. Stannard, The invisible wound
Though high-tech body armor saves lives on the battlefield, more and more troops are suffering traumatic head injuries, San Francisco Chronicle, July 14, 2004
- Jonathan Steele, Driven by national pride: The US is creating its own Iraqi Gaza, Guardian, Apr. 2, 2004.
- Frederick Sweet, Maimed in Iraq, then mistreated, neglected, and hidden in America, Intervention Magazine, Feb. 18, 2004
- Karl Vick, U.S. injuries in August hit highest level of war, The Wichita Eagle, Sept. 5, 2004
- Karl Vick, The Lasting Wounds of War, The Washington Post, Apr. 27, 2004.
- David Walsh, Washington Conceals US Casualties in Iraq, Coastal Post Online, Mar. 2004.
- Steve Wick, Coffin photo costs woman her job, Newsday, Apr. 23, 2004.
- Scott Williams, New law limits details on injured troops, JSOnline, Oct. 3, 2004.
- Edward Wyatt, In Iraq War, Death Also Comes to Soldiers in Autumn of Life, New York Times, July 18, 2004.
- Howard Zinn, The Ultimate Betrayal, CommonDreams, Feb. 19, 2004.
Any insightful article on this topic will be added to this list. Please submit
Sources of basic data
- Disinfopedia: "Iraq Coalition Casualty Statistics" — Important resource.
- GlobalSecurity.org Important source of information.
- Informed Comment Commentary about the war in Iraq by Univ. of Michigan Prof. Juan Cole. This is essential reading, and it contains a summary of the daily casualties.
CentCom As soon as a fatality occurs, a very basic notification is made available on this official US-military website. Caveat: This listing is not complete, and it often leaves out some fatalities — even some due to hostile causes. Further confusion is added because on a few occasions the fatality notification appeared in a release whose title had nothing to do with the incident leading to the death of a soldier, i.e., usually the heading indicates the nature of the press release, but this is not 100% the case. There are frequent errors, and if one cross checks with DefenseLink, Reuters, or AP, one finds errors in the number of soldiers killed and the dates of the event. NB: This website seldom announces fatalities due to “non-hostile” causes. Soldiers dying from accidents, heatstroke, suicide, etc., are usually only found in DefenseLink. Although very few obvious errors have been corrected in the past, for the past few month no corrections have been issued. Website reports on US military casualties exclusively, and it is updated daily.
DefenseLink A few days after the fatality has been announced by CentCom, there is a confirmation including the name and age of the soldier on this website. Again, the same problems found with CentCom are found here. However, “non-hostile” fatalities are usually only found on this webiste. While CentCom mentions instances of wounded personnel (and then only if in the same incident there have been fatalities), DefenseLink does not mention them. Although a few obvious errors have been corrected in the past, for the past few month no corrections have been issued. NB: There are quite a few errors in the announcements and sometimes it is not possible to reach the older records — a problem that seems to have been rectified recently, but it is not clear if the complete archive is available. Website reports on US military casualties exclusively, and it is updated daily.
MOD: Operation Telic This is the British Ministry of Defense website, and it is very good quality. Note the fact that the notices given for the fatalities contain a tribute to the soldiers and express regret. This stands in stark contrast with the US military notifications that are cold renderings of some statistic. This website reports on British military casualties exclusively, and it is updated daily.
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count (formerly known as LunaVille ) A very good quality data source including most “coalition” fatalities. It has an excellent quality running news column — updated regularly. Some graphics and tables are available on the website. Downside: some of the time periods available for analysis are odd. However, this is a valuable website — the best website where one can obtain data for analysis and not for "remembrance". Note that LunaVille removes CentCom announced fatalities if DefenseLink doesn't confirm them.
CNN Good quality data on US and some “coalition” fatalities with a photo for most of the victims. Updated daily except weekends. Downside: it is not possible to obtain meaningful tabulations or graphs from the data.
Baltimore Sun Good collection of US military fatality information. Updated regularly, and more up-to-date than CNN or Washington Post.
Washington Post Easy to use website with photos of US fatalities exclusively. This website is best for an overview of the photos of all soldiers. Downside: updated irregularly although it is supposed to be updated every Friday — and it almost seems as if they have given up updating it completely. It is also not possible to view the data in a graph or tabulate it in a meaningful way.
Memory Hole The media references to “injuries” don’t convey the meaning of what has happened to these soldiers. The image of these wounded soldiers is banned from most media, and therefore it is instructive to examine the photos in this important website. There are also some shocking photos of the mercenaries killed in Falluja on Mar. 31st.
BBC A poor quality list of the US soldier fatalities. Although it is a British news group, it only publishes American casualties! It is odd to say the least. Furthermore, it only publishes the “hostile” category fatalities; it excludes soldiers killed clearing mines, heatstroke, suicides, etc. The main purpose of this list is to justify using the low propaganda-compliant fatality numbers. It is updated irregularly.
Hendersonville Police Dept. is a rather tacky website, but it has the largest number of photos of US fatalities.