Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dep Sec Def Lynn Says Future Wars Deadlier - I (and History) Disagree!

It was reported in an article in the 9 Jun 2011, Washington Times (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/8/future-wars-seen-as-longer-deadlier/?page=all#pagebreak ) that Speaking on 8 Jun 2011 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III identified what he called “three strategic trends” that are shaping “our future national security environment: lethality, duration and asymmetry.” He opined that “the wars of the future will be longer, deadlier and waged against a more diverse variety of enemies than ever before …. “

I would contend that only a guy who has never spent a single solitary day in Uniform could come to his conclusion that future conflicts will be deadlier. While I might tend to agree future enemies may be more diverse and conflicts longer, there is absolutely no rationale for concluding they will be deadlier! As a matter of fact, recent experience indicates otherwise and regardless, I doubt the American public has the stomach anymore for combat losses of even the magnitude of Vietnam so it may be a moot point.

Understand as a Vietnam combat Vet who spent 30 years in the Army (and was in Afghanistan as a civilian last year), I consider every service member’s life precious and I don’t wish to diminish the death of a single one but I wanted to put our present US Military Operations into a little perspective and refute our Deputy Secretary’s contention that future conflicts will be deadlier! I base my conclusions on my following analysis of the major US deployments since 1941.

Although theoretically the Vietnam War lasted10 years, 51,585 of the total 58,220 killed occurred during the real 5 years (1966-70) of the war when we were heavily engaged. At the height of the war in 1968 we were losing 50 a day killed!

The Korean War lasted 3 years and one month (Jun 1950 – Jul 53) and total US Killed was 36,516. That averages ~32+ killed a day

By comparison, in the almost 10 years we’ve been in Afghanistan (Oct 2001-present), as of the beginning of this month (Jun) we’ve had 1583 military killed from all causes in country and the surrounding regions (1106 Soldiers, 325 Marines, 83 Airmen and 69 Sailors). That averages less than ½ person lost per day but this year is shaping up to be the deadliest of the conflict. So far in 2011 we’ve lost 167 killed in 189 days or less than one per day.

In Iraq and the surrounding region we’ve been there for over 8 years (Mar 03-Present) and lost 4446 total to all causes (3263 Soldiers, 1022 Marines, 103 Sailors, 57 Airmen and 1 Coast Guardsmen). That’s less then 1½ lost a day. In the 210 day First Gulf War (1990-91) US losses were 148 Combat and 145 Non-combat for a total of 293 killed.

Now if you want to talk about deadly, the US lost almost half a million men in World War II. The Battle of the Bulge alone lasted 40 days (16 Dec 44 – 25 Jan 45) with almost 90,000 U.S. casualties; 19,000 killed, 47,500 wounded, and 23,000 captured or missing. The 36-day Iwo Jima assault resulted in more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead while the 82-day Battle for Okinawa lasted from early April until mid-June 1945 and U.S. (5 Army and 2 Marine Corps Divisions) casualties were over 62,000 with over 12,000 killed.

Like I said earlier, every service member’s life is precious and I don’t wish to diminish the death of a single one but I want to put our present US Military Operations into a little perspective and challenge our Deputy Secretary’s contention that future conflicts will be deadlier! Hopefully, the trend will continue to be just to opposite, each conflict will be less deadly than the one before.