Monday, February 23, 2009

The Defense Dept. Answers RE: Non-Combat Related Deaths

(Thanks to Sen. Jim Webb for forwarding my questions to the Department. The main thrust of the DOD letter follows. After studying the numbers and percentages, the question rises: Why have non-hostile deaths of our troops risen 250% from the Korean to the Iraq wars? Look at the numbers at the DOD Web site. Am I figuring incorrectly?)

Dear Patricia,

The Department has a casualty reporting system…and both combat and non-combat related deaths are posted weekly…along with the cause of death…at

[Click “Personnel,” then “Military Casualty Information.”]

Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom each have a report titled “Casualty Summary by Reason Code” [which] …contain the reasons for all deaths, hostile and non-hostile.

Each Service analyzes the information…and they have safety boards to address deaths as a result of unsafe actions, equipment, etc. to try and prevent any additional harm to Service members….[including] suicide prevention and early detection. All of this information is used by the Department to try and prevent further injuries and deaths. Individual causes…are withheld to protect…privacy….

If you have any questions, please contact Kris Hoffman at 831-583-2500.


Mary Snavely-Dixon
Director, Human Resources Activity
Defense Manpower Data Center

I appreciate the letter and Sen. Webb’s attention. I will send my computations below to Senator Webb after I receive an answer from Ms. Hoffman about reasons, if any are known, about the leap in non-combat related deaths. I talked with her February 23, 2009.

At the Web site supplied above I discovered approximately 20 percent of the deaths (830 of 4,228)of all troops in Iraq from March 19, 2003 through January 31, 2009 result from nonhostile actions:

20% of Army deaths (613 of 3,072) are from nonhostile actions

35%, Navy (including the Coast Guard) (34 of 97)

16%, Marines (162 of 1,010)

almost 43%, Air Force (21 of 49)

More than 62% (518) of all non-hostile deaths in the Iraq War have resulted from accidents; more than 21% (176), “self-inflicted” causes. You have seen the recent stories about the increase in suicides among veterans and at West Point.

Compare “In-Theatre” deaths of other conflicts (which are not broken down "In Theater" or "Non-Theater" for Iraq casualties):

Gulf War non-hostile deaths: 61.5% (235 of 382)

Vietnam non-hostile deaths: 18.5% (10,786 of 58,220)

Korea non-hostile deaths: 7.75%(2,835 of 36,574)

Why did the percentage of nonhostile deaths increase so dramatically from Korea to Vietnam? Reduced training? Lowered standards? Different measuring means? On Friday at Ft. Campbell, KY, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told soldiers increased suicides among troops may be related to long and repeated deployments.

Many Vietnam troops were drafted and joined the service unwillingly. With economic conditions today and the Army’s lowered standards (accepting felons, more high school dropouts, more with lower intelligence levels) yet with supposedly additional safety measures in place, why has the number increased? Who measures the effects of the Army’s lowered standards? Also, I refer you to this site for casualty count:www.antiwar/com.casualties

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