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(DV) Paul de Rooij: The Military Death Toll While Enforcing the Occupation of Iraq


The Military Death Toll While Enforcing the Occupation of Iraq:
A Data Sheet of US-uk Military Fatalities Post-May 1, 2003

by Paul de Rooij

27 February 2007

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Recent Quotes

The latest report I saw is that at a minimum 3,065 members of US armed forces have been murdered in Iraq by Bush, Cheney and the neocons. And I use "murder" as a technical term – I was originally hired here to teach criminal law; taught it for a number of years. And murder involves voluntary killing with malice of forethought. It is very clear that Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, all the neocons lied their way into this war and murdered those troops. These troops are our mothers and our fathers, our brothers and our sisters, and ours sons and our daughters, and we are going to have to stop this war and save them from being further murdered by Bush and these fanatical neocons.

We also saw just yesterday in the New York Times that the Pentagon had a report on its website indicating that in fact 50,000 troops had been injured in Iraq, and not the lower figure they had been using of 20,000. They back tracked on this figure, all up and down. The Pentagon always lies about US casualties in wartime. My guess is that the real figure are a lot more than what that they are reporting.

And then of course the dead Iraqis... Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the rest of them have murdered a minimum of 650,000 Iraqis (according to the Lancet report last Spring). And if you extrapolate from that we are up to 700,000. And the longer this goes on those figures are going to increase for both Americans and Iraqis. My guess is that given the surge we are going to see a bloodbath in Baghdad, for both the civilian population of Baghdad and US armed forces... We really have to stop this bloodbath, we have to pull these troops out, and we have to get rid of Bush and Cheney. At a minimum, we owe it to our armed forces that have been put in harm's way in our name to stop this war, and to stop, certainly, further development of conflict and violence to Iran which could set up a regional, if not, a global war.
— Francis A. Boyle, Stopping the Guns of War, A-Infos Radio Project, 31 Jan. 2007. Very important interview. The quoted segment starts at the 23:25 min mark.

Pentagon Undercounts Number of Troops Injured
… the Pentagon is being accused of undercounting the number of troops injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you looked at the Pentagon's website last month, it would have appeared that about 47,000 soldiers had been injured in the two wars. But now the figure on the website has dropped to less than 32,000. The Pentagon is no longer including troops who suffered what it considers minor injuries or mental illness.
DemocracyNow, 5 Feb 2007.

So far, what exactly is surging in Iraq?
U.S. casualties, which are at a post-invasion high: According to an Associated Press analysis, more American troops were "killed in combat in Iraq over the past four months -- at least 334 through Jan. 31 -- than in any comparable stretch since the war began"; and February, with 34 American deaths in its first nine days, is exceeding this pace. These loses are largely due to roadside bombs (IEDs) and to the fact that U.S. troops are now engaged in almost continuous urban warfare. Before the invasion of Iraq, the possibility of fighting an urban war in the Iraqi capital's streets and alleys was the American high command's personal nightmare. Now, it's their reality -- and the President's surge plan can only make it more nightmarish.
—Tom Engelhardt, Surging into Catastrophe in Iraq, TomDispatch, 12 Feb. 2007. (Introduction to an article by Michael Schwartz.)

At least 800 civilians under contract to the Pentagon have been killed and more than 3,300 hurt in Iraq doing jobs normally handled by the U.S. military...
It is not clear how many of the employees are American but the casualty figures make it clear that the Defense Department's count of more than 3,100 U.S. military dead does not tell the whole story.
Iraq war claims 800 Pentagon contractors' lives, PressTV, 24 Feb. 2007.

Commentary on recent developments

The report on the urban-rural mix in the US forces is worth reading.

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. The Baltimore Sun stopped reporting on February 11, 2005.

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 (e.g., contractors 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.

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 23-Feb-07)
Linear trend of av. fatalities p/day Pct of fatalities due to hostile action
2003† 1.5 1.8 63%
2004 2.4 2.1 85%
2005 2.4 2.3 81%
Jan 06 2.2 2.5 88%
Feb 06 2.1 2.5 83%
Mar 06 1.0 2.5 90%
Apr 06 2.6 2.5 87%
May 06 2.5 2.6 87%
Jun 06 2.0 2.6 93%
Jul 06 1.5 2.6 91%
Aug 06 2.1 2.6 89%
Sep 06 2.5 2.6 88%
Oct 06 3.5 2.7 94%
Nov 06 2.5 2.7 91%
Dec 06 3.6 2.7 88%
Jan 07 2.9 2.7 94%
Feb 07  3.1* 2.8  94%*

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.
(†) Indicates statistic computed from May until Dec. 2003.

(!!): 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 – 23-Feb-07)
pct UK
White 2,308 75.5% 94 95.9%
Black / Afro-American 278 9.1% 1 1.0%
Hispanic 337 11.0% 0 0.0%
Other 89 2.9% 3 3.1%
NA 43 1.4% 0 0.0%
Total 3,055   98  
Women 73 2.4% 2 2.0%
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 23-Feb-07
Age interval Percentage
age <= 25 57.9%
25 < age <= 35 30.5%
35 < age <= 45 9.7%
45 < age <= 55 1.8%
55 < age <= 65 0.1%

Statistics about the overall cost of the war (blood and money)

The cost of the Occupation of Iraq:
US-uk Military Fatality Forecast (using data thru 23-Feb-07)
Period from 1-May-2003 until:Fatality forecast
1 May 2007 3,341
31 Dec. 2006 4,056
NB: this forecast DOES NOT include the fatalities which occurred during the "hot" phase of the war, i.e., before 1 May 2003.
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.

US military fatalities in Iraq as a percentage of the total number killed during the Vietnam War
US fatalities in: Number/Pct
     Iraq 3,195
     Vietnam 58,178  
     Iraq/Vietnam5.5 pct
Source: The number of US fatalities listed on the Vietnam War Memorial. For the US fatalities in Iraq, the 140 US military killed during the "hot phase of the war" was added to the total number of fatalities tallied for the occupation period. NB: In both cases the number of fatalities understates the actual number of US personnel killed. For example, US State Dept. employees or other non-DOD government employees are not counted in these tallies. In Iraq, several embassy employees were killed, but not counted. Similarly, mercenaries or contractors aren't counted. In Vietnam, ditto.

Explanation: The number of fatalities in the database used for this study includes: (1) fatalities in the US, but caused in Iraq (and not in the official count); (2) State Department personnel. There are about 20 of these in total.

Main foreign military forces in Iraq (in theater only)
ProvenanceEstimated numbersDate/Source
United States 132,000 (at least) 20 Feb. 2007 [1]
"Contractors" & mercenaries 20,000 – 30,000 14 Oct 2004 [2]
UK 7,100 Feb 2007[3]
[1] BBC News, 20 Feb. 2007.
NB: The total number of US troops in Iraq in May 2003 was 148,000, and this level has been surpassed on various occasions during the occupation phase. 165,000 is the highest number to date – this was during the occupation phase, and not the hot war phase. There have been recent reports (Oct 2006) that there will recent be a 15,000 increase of US troops in Iraq in the coming months – bringing the total to about 155,000.
[2] On 13 Oct. 2004, Phyllis Bennis 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. On 25 May 2006, Andy Bearpark, the head of the British Association of Security contractors stated that there were between 15,000 and 20,000 contractors in Iraq, and out of these 5,000 are British. NB: In November 2006, it was revealed that the number of contractors in Iraq had tripled since 2005 – so the above number is likely an underestimate of the size of this contingent.
[3] BBC, Blair announces Iraq troops cut, BBC Online, 21 Feb. 2007.

For an alternative source see GlobalSecurity estimates.

Cost of the US-Iraq war
Through June 2004 [1] US$151bn
Estimate through 23-Feb-07 [2] US$368bn
As a percentage of the Cost of the Vietnam War 62 pct
[1] Source: Phyllis Bennis
[2] 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.
The cost of the Vietnam War in 2004 dollar terms was put at US$597bn by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Alternative estimates can be found here.
Also see Phyllis Bennis article.
Joseph Stiglitz is deriving a figure in the trillions of dollars due to the medical costs that will continue for decades, see here.
And finally: National Priorities estimate.

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 1st 2003.
Funerals         0
Hospital visits 5
Jog around the White House with veteran limb-amputee with leg prostheses 1
Related article
Source: White House list of events schedule is checked regularly.

Explanatory Notes:

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 Iraq Coalition Casualty Count database, and there is a less than 1% discrepancy (14 in February 2005). NB: the figures tallied here contain some suicides of soldiers that occurred outside the US – these are never counted by the usual sources. There are also some fatalities due to contagious diseases (e.g., encephalitis) contracted in Iraq.

Articles providing further background information:

Any insightful article on this topic will be added to this list. Please submit Recommendations.

Sources of basic data

  • Geographical Analysis of Fatalities. Shows a map of Iraq and where fatalities have occurred over time.
  • Important source of information.
  • Iraq Analysis Important source/database of information.
  • 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.
  • Veterans for Peace Good source of information.
  • 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 and basic bio-info. This website is best for an overview of the photos of the soldiers, where they come from, and basic bio-info. There are some basic graphs, and the ones about the fatality's home town are the most interesting -- these indicate socio-economic class.
  • 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.

Paul de Rooij can be reached at  (NB: all emails with attachments will be automatically deleted). Copyright © 2007 Paul de Rooij

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