Updated Death and Injury Rates of U.S. Military Personnel During the Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Working Paper 2014-08
More than 5,000 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and another 50,000 were wounded in action. A larger proportion of wounded personnel survived their wounds than was the case during the Vietnam War.
In Operation Iraqi Freedom, which ended on August 31, 2010, some 3,482 hostile deaths occurred among U.S. military personnel and 31,947 people were wounded in action (WIA). More than 1,800 hostile deaths occurred during Operation Enduring Freedom (in Afghanistan and surrounding countries) through November 2014; about 20,000 more people were wounded in action.
In the Iraq conflict, a larger proportion of wounded personnel survived their wounds than was the case during the Vietnam War, but the increased survival rates are not as high as some studies have asserted. Prior to the surge in troop levels that began in early 2007, the survival rate was 90.4 percent in Iraq—compared with 86.5 percent in Vietnam.
Amputation rates are difficult to measure consistently, but I estimate that 2.6 percent of all WIA and 9.0 percent of medically-evacuated WIA from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters combined resulted in the major loss of a limb.
An elevated non-hostile death rate (including deaths from accidents, illnesses, or suicides) in Iraq before the surge resulted in about 220 more deaths during the first four years of that conflict (March 2003−March 2007) than would have been expected in peacetime among a population the size of the one that deployed to Iraq. Relative to such a peacetime benchmark, I find essentially no additional non-hostile deaths in Iraq after March 2007. For the conflict in Afghanistan, I estimate about 200 additional non-hostile deaths relative to a comparable benchmark through December 2013.