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      The Long Wars: A Tidal Wave of Casualties

      U.S. Troop Casualties from Oct. 7, 2001 through May 25, 2011. All data courtesy DoD. (Prepared by Wesley Saver of the PJRC)This article was updated May 25, 2011 at 12:24PM PDT.

      6,029 American soldiers have died while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      43,643 American soldiers have been officially wounded.

      While the combined total for the dead and wounded is on pace to surpass 50,000 sometime this June, an additional 55,007 have already required medical evacuation out of the combat zones.

      No less than 104,679 American troops are casualties of these long wars. This does not included the walking wounded, those suffering from traumatic brain injury, attempted or successful suicides, or civilian contractors.

      The 10th fighting season underway, U.S. casualties are expected to significantly rise. According to Paul Sullivan, Executive Director of Veterans for Common Sense (VCS),1 “the number of Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran patients treated at VA rose to 654,000. That's an increase of 29,000 in the past three months, or nearly 10,000 new veteran patients treated at VA each month. This count excludes veterans who obtain care from private doctors.”

      Sullivan continued, “Sadly, tragically, preventably, this tidal wave of casualties can and should be mitigated by ending the conflicts that should have never started in the first place.”

      This grim tally does not yet begin to account for the hundreds of thousands of direct civilian casualties, the hundreds of thousands more who have died due to illnesses and lack of adequately staffed, supplied, and equipped medical facilities, or the millions of displaced civilians and refugees.


      There have been a minimum 71,489 contractor casualties: 2,620 have died serving in Afghanistan and Iraq; another 68,869 have been wounded.2

      At least 173,644 contractors remain on U.S. payroll:3 90,339 currently serving in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF);4 64,253 in Operation New Dawn (OND).5

      From FY2005 through FY2010, DOD obligated approximately $146 billion on contracts in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of operations.6

      The Financial Impact

      The combined direct cost of Iraq and Afghanistan is officially $1.2 trillion: $792 billion and $407 billion for each war, respectively.7

      Measuring the hidden, indirect costs—accrual such as the long-term Social Security, disability, and medical care for veterans as mentioned by Sullivan, etc.—will add hundreds of billions, if not trillions to the financial impact. Amending their September 2010 testimony before the House Committe on Veteran's Affairs,8 economists Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz have since acknowledged that their previous prediction of between $4-$6 trillion overall, “is still a conservative estimate.”9


      Additional research by Wesley Saver of the Peace and Justice Resource Center.

      1 VCS has testified before Congress more than 20 times about the causes, conduct, and consequences of war. Please download and distribute the VCS fact sheets and reports, which include VA data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

      2 "Defense Base Act Case Summary Reports." U.S. Department of Labor. March 31, 2011. 

      3 According to DOD, as of December 2010, there were 213,105 troops dedicated to supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, of which approximately 3,700 were based outside of the USCENTCOM region (Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Philippines). "Eleventh Quarterly Report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. SIGAR. April 30, 2011.

      4 OEF includes: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

      5 Based on Congressional Budget Office methodology, OND includes: Iraq, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

      6 Schwartz, Moshe. "Department of Defense Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background and Analysis." Congressional Research Service Report R40764. March 29, 2011. For a discussion on DOD’s use of private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, see Congressional Research Service Report R40835, "The Department of Defense’ s Use of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background, Analysis, and Options for Congress," by Moshe Schwartz.

       7 For more on how the cost of war is affecting your communtiy, see the National Priorities Project.

      8 Bilmes, Linda, and Joseph Stiglitz. “The True Cost of the War.” House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs. September 30, 2010.

      9 Bilmes, Lina, and Joseph Stiglitz. “Human and Economic toll of Iraq War on 8th Anniversary.” The Trillion Dollar War. March 19, 2011.

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