War Dead Myths

Michelle Malkin highlights a chart in the New York Times compiled by Lawrence Kolb and Nigel Holmes that puts lie to the myth that blacks have suffered a disproportionate share of the combat deaths in Iraq. Indeed, whites and hispanics both suffered higher casualty rates than blacks. This was also true, she notes, in all of our previous wars. The reason is the same in both cases: black soldiers are more likely to serve in combat support and service support roles. Through WWII, this was because blacks were denied the honor of serving in the combat arms; since, it’s been a matter of choice.

Graphic: Death rates by race in Iraq War

What’s also interesting is that Regular Army soldiers and Marines have suffered a much higher casualty rate, as a percentage of the force, than have Guard and Reserve personnel:

Graphic: Death rates by service branch in Iraq War

The reasons are largely the same: Most of the reservists called up are in the support branches.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs
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. LJD says:

    Hearing about whites who volunteer for active service, in greater numbers than their minority counterparts, and who more frequently pay the ultimate price, just doesn’t make for a good news story.

    They forgot about the number of troops (children!) aged 18-21 who have died. The actual numbers are far less than the claims made in irresponsible reports. But again, great inflammatory press.

    When will there be some sort of accountability for deliberately misleading the public with politically skewed “news” stories?

  2. It’s worth pointing out that the Kolb is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, which is hardly a conservative bastion.

  3. James Joyner says:

    True ’nuff. Korb was also a staunch opponent of the Iraq War.