Sunday, October 19, 2008

Morbid Math

Looking at going back to Iraq, many people feel as though you might be fearful for your life. Sometimes I am. This doesn't seem to me to be a rational thought, however, when I look deeper into the numbers behind OIF deaths:

[assuming that every job in country is equally dangerous, which obviously is not true. However, due to the high degree of indirect fires (rockets, mortars, etc) a lot of it is just luck of the draw.]

  • There have been 4,185 American troop deaths in iraq ( at the time I write this
  • There are 144,000 American troops in Iraq currently (it has been about this for most of the time) (
  • Let's assume average troop is deployed to Iraq for one year (I could not find exact number for this, but a wide majority of soldiers in Iraq are Army, which generally have 1-1.5 year tours, while Marines, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard generally serve shorter tours)

Average Death Rate
Average deaths/year = total deaths/years
= 4,185 / 5.5
= 760
This is somewhat skewed, as the deaths show sharp increases (Apr04: 135, Nov04: 137, Jan 05: 107, Oct06: 106, Dec06:112, Apr-Jun07: 331) and decreases (Several months below 40, including all months since Sep07 with the exception of Apr 08 with 52) (

Another problem with this math is the skewed proportions based on region, area, and job. However, I don't have precise enough data to account for these yet.

Chance of Dying during Deployment
So at 760 deaths/year, and an average deployment lasting one year with 144,000 troops:

Chance of death (if randomized) = deaths/troops
= 0.528%, or 1 in 189

So rationally speaking, this is a pretty low chance of death. This of course in no way helps to console the friends and families of the 4,185 US soldiers who have died, the 445 Contractors who've died, the tens of thousands (or more) Iraqis who've died, and of course other coalition forces, journalists, or others who have also died.