Fox News has this interesting news piece: Apparently, even with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fewer soldiers are dying now than during the previous peaceful 1980’s. Any death on the “job,” military or otherwise is one death too many, especially for the families left behind, but statistics are often not judged as critically as they could be.

More active members of the military died during two years of peacetime in the early 1980s than died during a two-year period of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a government report.

The Congressional Research Service, which compiled war casualty statistics from the Revolutionary War to present day conflicts, reported that 4,699 members of the U.S. military died in 1981 and ’82 — a period when the U.S. had only limited troop deployments to conflicts in the Mideast. That number of deaths is nearly 900 more than the 3,800 deaths during 2005 and ’06, when the U.S. was fully committed to large-scale military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The CRS, which is the public policy research arm of Congress, issued its findings in the June report “American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics.”, in re-examining the findings, found that — surprising as it may be — there were more active duty deaths in some years of peacetime than there were in some years of wartime.

Military analysts say the current decrease in military casualties, even during a time of war, is due to a campaign by the Armed Forces to reduce accidents and improve medical care on the battlefield.

“It’s safer to be in the military because your accidental death rate has gone down; it’s safer to be in the military because if you get wounded, you’ll probably survive,” said John Pike, director of

“Getting killed on the battlefield is one way that people in the military wind up dying, but it’s not the main way.”

According to the raw figures, of the 2,380 members of the military who died during active duty in 1981, 1,524 were killed in accidents, 145 by homicide, 457 by illness and 241 from self-inflicted wounds. That compares with the 1,942 killed in 2005; of that number, 632 died from accidents, 739 from hostile action, 49 from homicide, 281 from illness, 150 from self-inflicted wounds and 72 whose causes of death were still pending. Eleven deaths in ’81 and 19 deaths in ’05 were classified as “undetermined.?

Fox News Story here.

Here is one CRS table that I found interesting: [unfortunately, my bloggin skills aren’t good enough to get the spacing clearer for the table….]

Table 15. Operation Iraqi Freedom —
Military Deaths, May 1, 2003, Through June 2, 2007 (As of June 2, 2007)
Casualty Type Totals Army Navy Marines Air Force
Hostile 2,745 1,939 49 741 16
Nonhostile 596 429 24 131 12
Total 3,341 2,368 73 872 28

Almost 21% of the deaths are “non-hostile.” I’m not sure if that includes friendly fire, but it certainly includes vehicle accidents, and so forth.

You make up your own mind. The CRS report is here.