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March 2006 Archives

March 22, 2006

Let's Get This Straight...

I never planned to write this post, but certain term has been regularly mis-used the past few years, and -considering that we'll be "at war" for at least a few more years- someone really should sit folks down and explain what the word means.

To wit, more than a few people need to learn the proper definition of the word casualty.

From About.com:

Definition: (DOD) Any person who is lost to the organization by having been declared dead, duty status - whereabouts unknown, missing, ill, or injured.

More than a few otherwise well-informed bloggers and/or columnists have mis-used the term as a synonym for "dead." Most folks who are semi-literate about things military will tell you the term "casualties" include both wounded and dead. The truly informed (or geeky dweebs, take your pick {g}) will tell you casualties include dead, wounded, missing, and anyone else not available for duty. This includes car accidents on base, illness, and even sports injuries while off-duty.

So if someone asked you "A given unit is currently serving in Iraq. In the last week, 3 men died, 7 suffered bullet and/or IED wounds, 2 female MPs were incapacitated from severe cramps, 2 men and 1 woman pulled muscles during a pickup football game, 5 soldiers are getting treatment for Iraq-theatre-specific parasitic diseases, and one guy hasn't been seen all week. How many casualties has that unit suffered the past week?"

The answer is not 3, 10, or even 20; it's 21. Yes, all of the examples above are considered casualties.

The proximate stimulus for my explanation is this post by the Instapundit. More specifically, this graf:

I should also note that despite predictions of 50,000 casualties in the initial invasion, three years later we're at less than 5% of that.
This struck me as odd, as 50,000 would seem to be a high (but not-reasonable) estimate after three years of action.

Note Professor Reynolds claims "less than 5%" casualties. Quick work with a calculator gives 5% of 50,000 as 2,500. He is obviously referring to deaths, not casualties.

DoD figures indicate 16,653 wounded in action as of 4/4/2006, but please note that number is explicitly labled "wounded in action."

Some of the digging I did for this article, so that I might have all the ducks lined up all purty, shows that actual casualties for the past three years are closer to 30,000. One letter from the DoD says "More than 15,000 troops with so-called 'non-battle' injuries and diseases have been evacuated from Iraq."

16k + 15k = 31k. QED.

So. Let's all glue the accurate definition of casualty right next to the monitor, where we won't forget it.

Ok?

About March 2006

This page contains all entries posted to The Gantry Launchpad in March 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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