Active Duty Deaths: Bush vs. Clinton

Here’s an interesting report compiled by the Department of Defense’s Manpower Data Center.
What I found most interesting was a comparison of the active duty deaths between the first four years of Bill Clinton’s term and the first four years of Bush’s term.
Active duty deaths during Clinton’s first four years (1993 – 1996): 4302
Active duty deaths during Bush’s first four years (2001 – 2004): 5187
The difference? 885 deaths over four years, or about 221 deaths a year. Of course, during Bush’s first four years in office we liberated both Afghanistan and Iraq. What did we accomplish, in terms of military victories, during Clinton’s first four years in office?
I can’t think of a thing.
Unfortunately this report doesn’t go beyond 2004, but using some other sources we can develop numbers for additional comparisons. There were another 3,198 active duty deaths under Clinton during the second four years of his term (1997 – 2000). That’s about 800 active duty deaths per year. In 2005 – according to these numbers which, admittedly, aren’t official – there were 846 active duty casualties. So far in 2006 we’ve had 139 active duty casualties. Those numbers may be a little low as I believe they may on encapsulate deaths in Iraq, but going with the assumption that most active duty deaths are going to be occurring in Iraq anyway they’re probably pretty close.
And regardless, the point is clear: US Military active duty deaths simply have not gone up that much despite the fact that we’ve fought two major wars, liberating two formerly oppressed countries, and have struggled against an active terror insurgency in both countries ever since. Given the numbers above it is safe to say that fighting two major wars has resulted in an annual active-duty death total that is only about 250 (give or take) more than the annual total from a time when this country was relatively at peace.
The media and the anti-war crowd in this country would suggest that our military is depleted. Used up. I would argue that, given the modest increase in active duty deaths despite fighting two wars in two different countries, that we haven’t even scratched the surface of what our military is capable of.
None of this is to suggest that military deaths should be taken lightly, yet we are often told of the “high cost” we are paying to wage these wars in the middle east. Is the cost – which is high from the perspective that any U.S. soldier’s death is a high price – as high as some would have us believe?
Kind of puts the defeatists in perspective, doesn’t it?

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