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Counting Fallen Heroes: Military Deaths by Administration

Last week I had a chance to see Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen give a lecture as part of the George Shultz lecture series and I have to say, I was impressed with his calm pragmatism in the face of the shifting military challenges from Iraq to Afghanistan and especially along the country's border with Pakistan.


The other thing that caught my attention, was the grasp he had on the cold, hard figures of the truth of military service, numbers they're struggling with. For instance, 150,000 veterans are currently homeless, a number of which Adm. Mullen says, "One is too many." The other number I feel utterly compelled to pay respect to: the number of servicemen and women killed while serving.

All of these figures are available in the CRS Report for Congress (PDF), American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics. The report covers every war from the War of 1812 through Operation Iraqi Freedom. On the more recent conflicts, starting with the Korean War, more demographic details are included too. To see the sobering, yet surprising breakdown of casualties by year, read more.

The following are tough numbers, to be sure, but scroll to the bottom — I was very interested to see that during the Clinton administration (1993-2000) there were 7,500 deaths, and through George W. Bush administration (2001-2006) there have been 9,888 deaths. Given our current global military involvement, and how we receive information on the war, do these totals surprise you?

1980: 2,392 (Carter)
1981: 2,380 (Reagan)
1982: 2,319 (Reagan)
1983: 2,465 (Reagan)
1984: 1,999 (Reagan)
1985: 2,252 (Reagan)
1986: 1,981 (Reagan)
1987: 1,983 (Reagan)
1988: 1,819 (Reagan)
1989: 1,636 (George HW)
1990: 1,508 (George HW)
1991: 1,787 (George HW)
1992: 1,293 (George HW)
1993: 1,213 (Clinton)
1994: 1,075 (Clinton)
1995: 1,040 (Clinton)
1996: 974 (Clinton)
1997: 817 (Clinton)
1998: 827 (Clinton)
1999: 796 (Clinton)
2000: 758 (Clinton)
2001: 891 (George W)
2002: 999 (George W)
2003: 1,410 (George W)
2004: 1,873 (George W)
2005: 1,941 (George W)
2006: 1,875 (George W)
2007: 899 (George W)

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