More than 3,000 U.S. service personnel have now been killed in the war in Iraq. But military experts say the landmark figure, reached over the weekend, must be viewed along with the number of serious injuries — 22,000 — to be fully understood.
A soldier wounded in combat during World War II had a one-in-three chance of dying from his injuries. In Iraq, 90 percent of troops wounded survive.
We're now suffering a ratio of wounded to dead of 7 or 8 to 1," says military historian Eliot Cohen, "whereas previous historical norms were closer to 3 to 1 in the 20th century and 1 to 1 in the 19th century."
Many of those 22,000 wounded, brave and fit, athletic and strong, are learning to walk again, using prosthetic limbs. Or, some are learning out how to read again after suffering brain damage.
While all branches of the military have been hit by losses, the Army and Marines have taken the brunt of fatalities, with two-thirds coming from the Army and most of the rest from the Marines. Of the 3,000 dead, 69 are women.
In March, the Iraq war will become the third-longest conflict in U.S. history, after the Revolution and Vietnam.