At first blush, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan appear less violent and less deadly than previous American conflicts over the last century. While 53,000 U.S. service members died in the Korean War and 405,000 in WW II, a relatively small 6,051 (and climbing) troops have been killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
But a deeper dive into the casualty counts reveals a staggering amount of loss and pain carried by a relatively small group of American troops.
Last month, Brown University’s Watson Institute tried to give a fuller accounting of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan and the results should get our attention. Citing conservative estimates, researcher Catherine Lutz found the total number of casualties for allied troops and contractors to be 28,000 dead and 218,000 wounded. And if we include mental injuries, traumatic brain injury and toxic exposures, the real number of wounded is closer to half a million.