2500 U.S. Military Dead in Iraq

The United States has now suffered 2500 military dead in Iraq in addition to 18,490 wounded.


The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq has reached 2,500, the Pentagon said on Thursday, more than three years into a conflict that finds U.S.-led forces locked in a struggle with a resilient Sunni Arab insurgency.

The news came after a senior Iraqi official in Baghdad said his country’s security forces had seized al Qaeda in Iraq documents giving key information about the militant group’s network and the whereabouts of its leaders. “We believe this is the beginning of the end of al Qaeda in Iraq,” national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie told a televised news conference in the Iraqi capital.

In Washington, the Pentagon also said 18,490 U.S. troops had been wounded in the war, which began in March 2003 with a U.S.-led invasion to topple President Saddam Hussein.

A sad, notable milestone.

I’ll nonetheless re-post what I wrote on 25 October 2005, when the toll reached 2000:

Each American casualty represents a personal tragedy for their loved ones and should be soberly weighed by all of us. At the same time, it is low by any historical measure; we had more people killed on D-Day, for goodness sake. Nor is it an indication of the worth of the mission for which these troops died. If the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, then one death is too many. Otherwise, the toll has to be weighed against the benefit to the nation, which remains to be seen.

As I noted in May 2004, when the death toll reached 800,

Source: History News Network

As the data show, 800 deaths pales in comparison with almost every war we’ve ever fought. And, certainly, one doesn’t want to take the disproportionate American deaths argument too far when one looks at the two World Wars. We lost many times 800 in both the Mexican War and the Spanish-American War, the rationales for which are long forgotten by most.

Indeed, there are perhaps dozens of battles in American history in which we took more than 800 deaths. A very few examples:

Not to mention:

(Note: Estimates vary widely for some of these battles; I’ve chosen representative numbers and given hyperlinks.)

Regardless of the position one took on the war at the outset, or even one’s position as to whether we ought remain knowing what we know now, we should hope that these 2000 lives purchase something worthy of their sacrifice. If they lead to a free, democratic Iraq that is a catalyst for a Middle East less hospitable to Islamist zealots, that will indeed be the case.

Postscript: Of course, 2500 means that this war has now passed the Spanish-American War, The War of 1812, and Pearl Harbor in raw numbers (although not in terms of population proportion). Of course, the Pearl Harbor deaths were absorbed in hours as a precursor to a much deadlier war. The other two conflicts are not considered among the finest moments in our history. The closing paragraph of the October post, though, remains correct.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Christopher says:

    James you have really got something wrong with you to focus on magical “milestone” death totals.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Chris: There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about 2500 vice 2499 or 2501. Still, humans seem to focus on certain multiples of 10 and 25 as significant and they get more attention. Indeed, this story topped YahooNews and GoogleNews today.

  3. Christopher says:

    Well James, glad to see that you are mimicking liberal “news” outlets like Yahoo and Google today. I guess no one can accuse you of being outside the mainstream.

  4. Jim says:

    Listening to the debate on C-Span, it saddens me that so many of our politicans are allowing their views on Iraq to be shaped by their loathing of President Bush.

  5. kenny says:

    How many iraqis have died ?
    Or is that not important…..

  6. Christopher says:

    Kenny—why are you asking that question here? Why don’t you ask the insurgents that have killed them that question?

    The question to ask here is: how many Iraqi lives have the USA saved? Answer: Thousands upon thousands. How many lives have they improved? Millions upon millions.

  7. McGehee says:

    How many iraqis have died ?
    Or is that not important�..

    Do you care more about those who have died since Saddam was overthrown, or do you also care about the hundreds of thousands who were being killed by Saddam’s regime?

    Or are the latter not important (to you)….?