The reasons for going to and staying at war in Iraq have changed so often that our heads would be spinning if we actually tried to keep track of them. What hasn’t changed is the way the numbers keep climbing. More dead, more wounded, more disabled, more money spent (and lost). Between the time the statistical tables were completed and the time this introduction was written, nine more service members had lost their lives in Iraq.
Whatever we mean when we say “support the troops,” we might at least know who they are. To this end, we’ve included demographic data on who is doing the fighting and dying at our government’s behest. It’s also worth noting that those of us left behind are also affected by the Iraq losses—whether because family members and friends are in the line of fire, or because our tax dollars are going to pay for it.
And because it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, we’ve added a timeline of the war, placed side-by-side with the toll of the dead. Iraqi civilian deaths are taken from the most conservative estimates available. The actual numbers may be much higher, but as General Tommy Franks reminded us at the beginning of this war, our military “doesn’t do body counts.”
If the numbers conflict or don’t quite add up, it’s because each source is reporting a number at a particular point in time. As the war continues, the numbers will only get more confusing.