The Terrible Cost of War by the Numbers

Tracey Barnett ©October 2009

The true cost of war, by the numbers, for the United States:

Estimated number of soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan to date: 1.7 million.
Estimated number of US soldiers killed:
5,250.
Estimated number of private contractors killed:
1,000.
Estimated private contractors wounded:
13,000.
Estimated number of US troops that have required medical treatment:
300,000.
Estimated number of troops the US military officially deems “injured”, “wounded” or “medically ill” officially:
80,000.

Ratio of wounded to killed in WWII: 2 to 1.
Compared to Vietnam:
3 to 1.
Compared to Iraq and Afghanistan:
8 to 1.
Soldiers are surviving war in bigger numbers, but with greater “polytrauma” and extensive traumatic brain injury brought on by atmospheric pressure from roadside bomb blasts.

Percentage of veterans receiving care from Veterans Affairs hospitals who are there for mental health issues, including post traumatic stress [PTSD], drinking, substance abuse, hypervigilence and additional serious behavioral problems: 43%.  This is a six-fold increase since 2002.
Number of soldiers U.S Army statistics show returning home with PTSD:
17%

Age group most likely to experience extended and multiple deployments of two, three and four tours of combat: 25 and under.
Age group of Marines that have the highest rates of PTSD and alcoholism:
25 and under.
Age group that suffers most from PTSD among Reservists and National Guardsman who are most likely to have left established lives and may not have expected to go overseas at all:
30 and over.

Number of veterans receiving care from Veteran Affairs that are attempting suicide every month: 1,000 [includes veterans from other wars].
Number that are killing themselves daily:
18.
Today more US soldiers are killing themselves than are dying in combat while overseas.  This is the highest suicide rate the Army has reported since record keeping began.

Length of time veterans that are denied medical disability currently have to wait before getting an answer to their Veteran’s Administration appeal: 4.5 years.

Maximum age allowed for enlisting in Iraq or Afghanistan in 2005: 35.
Allowable age limit today:
42.
Estimated number of new recruits now allowed to serve with previous rap sheet convictions, enlisted in the first half of 2007 alone:
8,000.

Estimated number of troops that have been “stop-lossed”, meaning soldiers who are made to continue serving after their contract with the military has expired and are then re-deployed back to Iraq or Afghanistan: 58,000.
Estimated number of troops listed as medically unfit but have been deployed anyway:
43,000.

Percentage of US troops in Iraq three years ago who thought the US should exit in the next year: 72%.

The number of soldiers that have deserted since 2003: nearly 25,000.
Increase of the percentage of desertion from the previous five years, 1998-2003:
80%.

Estimated US cost of the Afghanistan war per year: $60 billion USD.
Estimated cost of both wars so far:
$1 trillion USD.
Estimated future cost to repay war debt, replenish military equipment and provide care and treatment for US veterans back home:
$2 trillion USD more.
Roughly the number of years it would take to pay off that war debt if serviced by spending New Zealand’s entire GDP:
27 years.

Number of private contractors working in both war theatres that represent billions of war spending: 240,000.
Number of staff to investigate potential fraud and war profiteering in the Army Criminal Investigation Command:
less than 100.

Estimated number of troops Obama is likely to leave stationed in Iraq even after the US “withdrawal”: 50,000.

Number of additional troops President Obama has ordered to Afghanistan since taking office: 21,000.
Number of troops US General Stanley McChrystal is currently asking for in addition to that:
40,000.
Estimated number of US troops in Afghanistan currently:
68,000.

Number of troops deployed during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan at its height that still resulted in defeat: 108,000.

American Theologian Reinhold Neibuhr from “The Irony of American History”, published in 1952:
“For if we should perish, the ruthlessness of the foe would be only the secondary cause of the disaster.  The primary cause would be that the strength of a giant nation was directed by eyes too blind to see all the hazards of the struggle; and the blindness would be induced not by some accident of nature or history, but by hatred and vainglory.”

[Note: Figures are rounded estimates]


One Response to “The Terrible Cost of War by the Numbers”

  1. WHILE it is cowardly and foolish not to resist an act of aggression, the best way to deal with a provocation is to ignore it — or so we are taught. By refusing to be provoked, one frustrates and therefore “beats” the provoker; generations of bullied children have been consoled with this logic. And so it is that the South Korean and American governments usually refer to North Korea’s acts of aggression as “provocations.”

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