The Military Death Toll While Enforcing the Occupation of Iraq: US-uk Military Fatalities from May 1, 2003 -- Feb 11, 2004
by Paul de Rooij

February 12, 2004
Last updated: Feb. 12, 2004, next update: Feb. 19.

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Commentary for the developments of the week.

This week DefenseLink issued a press release revealing seven fatalities that had not been previously reported. The fatalities dated from March through October. The question is how many more fatalities have been kept under wraps? NB: the graph below already includes these fatalities. The second oddity in the press release is the reassignment of one casualty from the operations in Iraq to those in Afghanistan

Two soldiers were killed this week while clearing explosives. These casualties were included as "non-accidental", i.e., hostile. This was done to counter the media trend to only count "hostile" fatalities. There is a very good case to be made that such casualties must be counted, and not ignored because their deaths were accidental.

Please note that the graph updates on a weekly cycle ending on Wednesdays.

Another means to determine the intensity of the resistance against the US-uk troops is to analyze the average daily death toll per month. The data used is current through the date included in the top left corner of this page. The last column is the percentage of “hostile” fatalities out of the total for the month.

Month Average fatalities per day
(inc. hostile and other)
Trend of av. fatalities p/day Pct of fatalities due to hostile action
May 03 1.4 1.3 23%
Jun 03 1.1 1.3 71%
Jul 03 1.6 1.4 57%
Aug 03 1.5 1.5 50%
Sep 03 1.1 1.6 58%
Oct 03 1.5 1.6 76%
Nov 03 2.9 1.7 87%
Dec 03 1.3 1.8 63%
Jan 04 1.7 1.9 79%
Feb 04   1.9 80%*
Mar 04   2.0  
Apr 04   2.1  
May 04   2.2  
The trend here was calculated using monthly data using a simple linear regression. The forecast and the trends indicated in the graph were derived from daily data.

Asterisk indicates incomplete month, but statistic computed nonetheless.

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 — 11-Feb-04)
pct UK
White 275 66% 26 100%
Black / Afro-American 54 13% 0  
Hispanic 43 10% 0  
Other 9 2% 0  
NA 34 8% 0  
Total 415   26  
Women 13 3.1% 0  
Classification done by author from photographs. This is an imperfect means of classification, but no other source is available.

Is president Bush empathy-impaired or maybe callous? Judge for yourself. However, for someone who shirked his military duty and most likely went AWOL there may be some guilt. Dubya feeling guilty?

Number of times president Bush has visited wounded soldiers or been present at funerals since May 1st 2003.
Funerals 0
Hospital visits 4
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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 the one of the justifications 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 fatalities 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.)

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.

Please note that the point of this forecast is meant to give an indication of the terrible toll this occupation will exact, it is by no means presented in a callous fashion. 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 quoted as “supporting the operations in Iraq” are included here — 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. In August a translator wearing a US army uniform was killed — he was included in this tally. (A “mine disposal” expert “volunteering” in Basra to clear minefields was also added. One can understand volunteers helping in humanitarian projects, but it is difficult to believe that someone volunteering to clear minefields was not related to the British army — hence the reasons for his inclusion.) 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 LunaVille database, and there is a less than 2% discrepancy.

Articles providing further background information:

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

Websites providing basic data

  • 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. The website updates daily, but usually not on weekends. 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.
  • 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, some “non-hostile” fatalities are found exclusively on this webiste and not in CentCom. The website updates daily, but usually not on weekends. While CentCom mentions instances of wounded personnel, DefenseLink does not mention them. Although very 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.
  • 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.
  • LunaVille A very good quality data source including most “coalition” fatalities. Some graphics and news are available on the website. Downside: some obvious data errors have not been corrected, no photos are available, updating is irregular, and some of the time periods available for analysis are odd. However, all told this is a valuable website.
  • 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.
  • Washington Post Easy to use website with photos of US fatalities exclusively. This website is best for an overview of the photos of all soldiers. Downside: updated irregularly although it is supposed to be updated every Friday. It is also not possible to view the data in a graph or tabulate it in a meaningful way.
  • BBC A poor quality list of the US soldier fatalities. Although it is a British news group, it only publishes American casualties! 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.


Other Articles by Paul de Rooij:


* The BBC and the Quiet Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians
* The Military Death Toll While Enforcing the Occupation of Iraq: 5/1/03 -- 2/8/04
* For Whom The Death Tolls: Deliberate Undercounting of “Coalition” Fatalities
* The Politics of Crying Wolf
* Demolishing the Myths of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
* Amnesty International: The Case of a Rape Foretold
Predictable Propaganda: Four Months of US Occupation of Iraq

* The Parade of the Body Bags

* Ambient Death in Palestine

* The Hydra’s New Head: Propagandists, and Selling the US-Iraq War

* Gretta Duisenberg: An Activist in the Trenches

* Propaganda Stinkers: Fresh Samples From the Field

* Arrogant Propaganda: US Propaganda During The First 10 Days of the US- Iraq War

* A Glossary of Warmongering







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