Since 9/11, US Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Have Killed 500,000 People

November 10th, 2018 - by admin

Jason Ditz / & Neta C. Crawford / The Watson Institute – 2018-11-10 01:25:56

US Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Killed 500,000 People

US Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan,
And Pakistan Killed 500,000 People

Over 60,000 US troops either
killed or wounded in conflicts

Jason Ditz /

(November 8, 2018) — Brown University has released a new study on the cost in lives of America’s Post-9/11 Wars, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The study estimates between 480,000 and 507,000 people were killed in the course of the three conflicts.

This includes combatant deaths and civilian deaths in fighting and war violence. Civilians make up over half of the roughly 500,000 killed, with both opposition fighters and US-backed foreign military forces each sustaining in excess of 100,000 deaths as well.

This is admittedly a dramatic under-report of people killed in the wars, as it only attempts to calculate those killed directly in war violence, and not the massive number of others civilians who died from infrastructure damage or other indirect results of the wars. The list also excludes the US war in Syria, which itself stakes claims to another 500,000 killed since 2011.

The report also notes that over 60,000 US troops were either killed or wounded in the course of the wars. This includes 6,951 US military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

The Brown study also faults the US for having done very little in the last 17 years to provide transparency to the country about the scope of the conflicts, concluding that they are “inhibited by governments determined to paint a rosy picture of perfect execution and progress.”

Those wishing to read the full Brown University study can find a PDF version here.

Excerpt: Human Cost of the Post-9/11 Wars:
Lethality and the Need for Transparency

Neta C. Crawford / The Watson Institute @ Brown University

(November 2018) — All told, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This tally of the counts and estimates of direct deaths caused by war violence does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011, which the US joined in August 2014.

The wars are ongoing, although the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are less intense than in recent years. Still, the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan in 2018 is on track to be one of the highest death tolls in the war. This tally is an incomplete estimate of the human toll of killing in these wars.

There are United Nations efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq to track war casualties and to identify the perpetrators of those deaths and injuries. In Iraq, the UN publishes monthly reports, and in Afghanistan, the UN makes annual and semi-annual reports.

Nongovernmental organizations, the Congressional Research Service, and journalists also attempt to understand the human toll of these wars by using official US government reports, other governments’ data, and on the ground reporting.

But, because of limits in reporting, the numbers of people killed in the United States post-9/11 wars, tallied in this chart, are an undercount.

Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attempt to track civilian, militant, and armed forces and police deaths in wars. Yet there is usually great uncertainty in any count of killing in war. While we often know how many US soldiers die, most other numbers are to a degree uncertain.

Indeed, we may never know the total direct death toll in these wars. For example, tens of thousands of civilians may have died in retaking Mosul and other cities from ISIS but their bodies have likely not been recovered.

In addition, this tally does not include “indirect deaths.”
Indirect harm occurs when wars ‘destruction leads to long term, “indirect,” consequences for people’s health in war zones, for example because of loss of access to food, water, health facilities, electricity or other infrastructure.

Most direct war deaths of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria have been caused by militants, but the US and its coalition partners have also killed civilians.

Since the start of the post-9/11 wars, the Department of Defense has not been consistent in reporting on when and how civilians have been harmed in US operations.

The US has attempted to avoid harming civilians in air strikes and other uses of force throughout these wars, to varying degrees of success, and has begun to understand civilian casualty prevention and mitigation as an essential part of US doctrine. In July 2016, the Presidential Executive Order on Measures to Address Civilian Casualties stated: ”

The protection of civilians is fundamentally consistent with the effective, efficient, and decisive use of force in pursuit of U.S. national interests.

Minimizing civilian casualties can further mission objectives; help maintain the support of partner governments and vulnerable populations, especially in the conduct of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations; and enhance the legitimacy and sustainability of U.S. operations critical to our national security.”

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