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6,855 Dead Americans: The Human Cost of War

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6,855 Dead Americans: The Human Cost of War

A new reports sheds light on the human sacrifice modern warfare entails for the U.S. military.

6,855 Dead Americans: The Human Cost of War
Credit: U.S. Air Force

6,855 dead and 52,251 wounded. That is the human toll – military and civilian casualties – of U.S. military operations over the past 14 years, according to an August 2015 report compiled by the Congressional Research Service.

Hannah Fisher, the author of the paper, compiled publicly available American casualty figures from a period beginning in October 7, 2001 to July 28, 2015.

In her compilation, Fisher includes statistics from the two ongoing  missions – Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS, Afghanistan) and Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR, Iraq and Syria) – as well as from past operations that include Operation New Dawn (OND, Iraq), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF, Iraq), and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, Afghanistan).

Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the operation to “continue training, advising, and assisting Afghan security forces,” that started on January 1, 2015 has so far cost the lives of three Americans and wounded 33. Its predecessor, Operation Enduring Freedom (October 7, 2001 – December 28,2014) resulted in 2,355 dead and 20,071 wounded in action.

The majority of American military and civilian casualties in the last decade occurred during Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began on March 19, 2003 and ended on August 31, 2010. “A transitional force of U.S. troops remained in Iraq under Operation New Dawn (OND), which ended on December 15, 2011,” the report states, during which an additional 66 Americans died and 295 were wounded.

According to the study,“[o]n October 15, 2014, U.S. Central Command designated new military operations in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR)” – a campaign that so far has resulted in seven Americans killed and one serviceman wounded.

The grim statistical compilation also includes numbers on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and amputations that occurred in the 2000-2015 time period. The report notes 177,461 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder between 2000 (no month is given for that year)  and June 2015 among both deployed and not previously deployed personnel in all services.

The total of traumatic brain injury incidents during the same time period is reported at of 327,299 with the majority (269,580) classified as “mild” injuries.

In addition, 1,645 men and women had to endure major limb amputation between October, 7 2001 to June 1, 2015. “A major limb amputation includes the loss of one or more limbs, the loss of one or more partial limbs, or the loss of one or more full or partial hand or foot,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

As I reported back in March 2013, the American military is more or less a middle-class force (See: “Where Are America’s Warrior’s Coming From?”). And while the number of total casualties of America’s wars appears high, the U.S. Armed Forces will not face a manpower shortage anytime soon because of it.

However, the United States could soon have less military personnel available for other reasons.

A March 2015 report pointed out that the declining health of America’s youth may very well lead to a manpower shortage in the near future. For example, in 2013, according to the report, among the 17- to 24-year-old youth population in the country, there were only an estimated 17 percent “qualified military available”(QMA), i.e. young people not enrolled in college and qualified to enlist in the U.S. military without a waiver.