US Troop Mortality Less Than Half US Overall Mortality

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Yank_Lurker, Aug 27, 2006.

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  1. Unfortunately I can't get the link to the Washington Post article to function correctly, but found the cite at Good commentary on the findings; especially interesting that the mortality of Lieutenants is 19% higher than the rest of the force combined. Looks like the junior officers are indeed doing their jobs. :(

  2. The article in question.
    The article says that "Rank: In both the Army and the Marines, enlisted personnel have 40 percent higher mortality than officers."

    Then goes on to say that Lt deaths are 19% of all deaths. Seems a bit off.
    The casualty reports I see have more enlisted soldiers and NCO's getting killed than are officers. Stats can be spun any way you want. But if you look at the faces of the fallen I dont see that stat holding up.

    We lose 44,000 people on our highways every year, I dont see that fact borne out in these stats.

    Service in Iraq: Just How Risky?

    By Samuel H. Preston and Emily Buzzell
    Saturday, August 26, 2006; Page A21

    The consequences of Operation Iraqi Freedom for U.S. forces are being documented by the Defense Department with an exceptional degree of openness and transparency. Its daily and cumulative counts of deaths receive a great deal of publicity. But deaths alone don't indicate the risk for an individual. For this purpose, the number of deaths must be compared with the number of individuals exposed to the risk of death. The Defense Department has supplied us with appropriate data on exposure, and we take advantage of it to provide the first profile of military mortality in Iraq.

    Between March 21, 2003, when the first military death was recorded in Iraq, and March 31, 2006, there were 2,321 deaths among American troops in Iraq. Seventy-nine percent were a result of action by hostile forces. Troops spent a total of 592,002 "person-years" in Iraq during this period. The ratio of deaths to person-years, .00392, or 3.92 deaths per 1,000 person-years, is the death rate of military personnel in Iraq.

    How does this rate compare with that in other groups? One meaningful comparison is to the civilian population of the United States. That rate was 8.42 per 1,000 in 2003, more than twice that for military personnel in Iraq.

    The comparison is imperfect, of course, because a much higher fraction of the American population is elderly and subject to higher death rates from degenerative diseases. The death rate for U.S. men ages 18 to 39 in 2003 was 1.53 per 1,000 -- 39 percent of that of troops in Iraq. But one can also find something equivalent to combat conditions on home soil. The death rate for African American men ages 20 to 34 in Philadelphia was 4.37 per 1,000 in 2002, 11 percent higher than among troops in Iraq. Slightly more than half the Philadelphia deaths were homicides.

    The death rate of American troops in Vietnam was 5.6 times that observed in Iraq. Part of the reduction in the death rate is attributable to improvements in military medicine and such things as the use of body armor. These have reduced the ratio of deaths to wounds from 24 percent in Vietnam to 13 percent in Iraq. Some other factors to be considered:

    Branch of service: Marines are paying the highest toll in Iraq. Their death rate is more than double that of the Army, 10 times higher than that of the Navy and 20 times higher than for the Air Force. In fact, those in the Navy and Air Force have substantially lower death rates than civilian men ages 20 to 34.

    Among the Marines, there is in effect no difference in the mortality risks for members on active duty and those in the reserve. In the Army, on the other hand, reservists have 33 percent of the death rate of those in active service because they are not assigned to combat positions. Members of the Army National Guard are intermediate in assignments and in mortality.

    Rank: In both the Army and the Marines, enlisted personnel have 40 percent higher mortality than officers. The excess mortality of enlisted soldiers is diminished by the high mortality of the lowest-ranking officers, lieutenants, who are typically the leaders of combat patrols. Lieutenants have the highest mortality of any rank in the Army, 19 percent higher than all Army troops combined. Marine Corps lieutenants have 11 percent higher mortality than all Marines. But the single highest-mortality group in any service consists of lance corporals in the Marines, whose death risk is 3.3 times that of all troops in Iraq.

    Age, sex , race and ethnicity: In contrast to the civilian population, mortality rates decline precipitously with age. Troops ages 17 to 19 have a death risk 4.6 times that of those 50 and older. Differences in rank by age undoubtedly contribute to this pattern, and so do differences in branch of service. Sixty-five percent of Marine deployments to Iraq were of those age 24 or younger, compared with only 39 percent of Army deployments. Women are not assigned to combat specialties in Iraq, although they do see enemy fire; their death rate is 18 percent that of men.

    Identifying racial and ethnic differences in mortality is not straightforward because the Defense Department uses a different classification system for deaths than for deployments. Nevertheless, all attempts we have made to reconcile the two systems reach the same conclusion: Hispanics have a death risk about 20 percent higher than non-Hispanics, and blacks have a death risk about 30 to 40 percent lower than that of non-blacks. That low death rate appears to result from an overrepresentation of blacks in low-risk categories: For example, 19 percent of blacks in Iraq are women, compared with 9 percent of non-blacks, while 7 percent of blacks in Iraq are Marines, compared with 13 percent of non-blacks.

    Other casualties: The number of wounded in Iraq through March 31, 2006, was 7.5 times the number of dead; the rate at which wounds are incurred was one per 33 troops per year. We do not have the same information about the characteristics of those wounded as we have about those killed. But given the overwhelming importance of hostile encounters in both wounds and deaths, it is likely that variations in the risk of being wounded are quite similar to those presented here.

    Samuel H. Preston is the Frederick J. Warren professor of demography at the University of Pennsylvania. Emily Buzzell is a student in the Health and Societies Program at Penn.
  3. Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.

    15 pc of deaths in road accidents in the UK are caused by Drunk Drivers. This means that 85pc are caused by Sober Drivers. If there were more Driunk Drivers on the road, there wuld be less Road Deaths.

    See what I did there ?
  4. The difference is that you're using numbers as absolutes, whilst the case of Americans killed in Iraq is in ratio.

  5. Good work Guru, the importance with statistics is that they should be presented in groups e.g...

    15% of road deaths are caused by drunk drivers and drunk drivers are x% more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than sober drivers.


    15% of road deaths are caused by drunk drivers. Drunk drivers make up x% of the driving population at any one time.

    Without this qualification the 15% statistic is relatively useless!
  6. Yuck. There is something really obnoxius about the last couple of paragraphs.

    I don't know why but breaking the stats down into Ethnic subsets seems wrong to me somehow.

    I mean why should the colour of a corpses skin be of interest?
    They are all soldiers and they are all dead.
  7. So safer to go to war than stay home :roll:
  8. No sh*t sherlock. I was showing how statistics can be manipulated. Not my stupidity.
  9. Sorry Guru, didn't mean it to be taken that way, I was trying to back you up! 8O
  10. While I find it distasteful myself, such stats are of interest at least here in the colonies. Numerous race baiters in the public limelight, both lawmakers and "persons of note" like to make the accusation that we're "making war on the back of the black/hispanic/whatever man", claiming that the majority of casualties are minorities and the underprivileged, turning this into a discussion of race politics rather than a legitimate discussion of policy and strategery.

    If one examines the stats however, one finds that first, combat arms units are primarily white middle class males--out of proportion to their representation in the Army and the US population as a whole, while CS and CSS have a higher percentage of minorities--many minorities and disadvantaged joining the Army to learn technical trades. White males bear the brunt of the casualty count in the war.

    I don't like it much either; Dr. King spoke of a color-blind society, his heirs work to keep salt in the wounds. More money in it that way. :x
  11. Y_L any theories as to why the Combat and CS/CSS arms are so different in make up?
  12. As I mentioned in my earlier post, many minorities/disadvantaged join the Army to "learn a trade"--hence CS/CSS and other support roles. There aren't too many job openings in the civilian world for trigger pullers.

    White boys from Middle America are far more likely to join up out of patriotism/seeking adventure/family tradition. Hence a greater number going into the Combat Arms.
  13. This page shows a breakdown of US casualties by race up to July of this year, from US DoD statistics. There are other reports/articles I've read which contrast this with the size of the ethnic/racial groups in the general population and their size in the Armed Forces, and further break them down into how many of each ethnicity serve in Combat Arms vs other branches, but I'm still digging for such reports.

    [Edit] Okay if you're up for a lengthy read, I found a pretty good report on this:

    Combat Casualties and Race: What Can We Learn from the 2003–2004 Iraq Conflict?

  14. Living on a US Army base (UK Exchange post) I am stuck by how intergarated ethnically the US Army is. It seems to be more reflective of society as a whole than our Army. BUT what is is amazing is the lack of intergration at any level a social level. I'm doing my best to teach my son (18 months) to be colour blind, but on the patch, by the time the kids are 4 or 5 they have grouped together by race, rather than age, gender. Having not lived on Patch in the UK/Germany is this typical or it just the US.
  15. I found that the social boundaries of the US Army to b quite disconcerting actually. I walked into a club in Baumholder, and it was a bit like Animal House. I felt like shouting "Otis, my man!"