Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces Hannah Fischer Information Research Specialist February 25, 2010 Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R40824 CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces Summary This report presents U.S. military casualties as well as governmental and nongovernmental estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties. For several years, there were few estimates from any national or international government source regarding Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties. Now, however, several Iraqi ministries have released monthly or total casualty statistics. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) releases the monthly trend of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces deaths. In addition, the United Nations Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has charted the trend of civilian casualties from August 2007 to April 2009, and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported on the number of deaths by suicide bombers in 2008. Nongovernmental sources also have released various estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties. This report includes estimates from the Associated Press, the Brookings Institution, Iraq Body Count, the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, Iraq Family Health Survey, the most recent study published in the Lancet, and the British survey firm, Opinion Research Business. Because the estimates of Iraqi casualties contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using differing methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact. This report will be updated as needed. Congressional Research Service Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces Contents U.S. Military Casualties ..............................................................................................................1 Iraqi Casualties ...........................................................................................................................1 Iraq Ministries’ Data .............................................................................................................1 U.S. Department of Defense Data..........................................................................................4 Nongovernmental Data .........................................................................................................6 Figures Figure 1. Iraq Ministries: Civilian and Police/Security Forces Deaths ..........................................4 Figure 2. Department of Defense: Iraqi Civilian Deaths, January 2006 – August 2009 .................5 Figure 3. Department of Defense: Iraq Security Forces Deaths, January 2006 - August 2009 ........................................................................................................................................6 Tables Table 1. Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Fatalities and Wounded ..................................................1 Table 2. Iraq Ministries: Civilian and Police/Security Forces Deaths, January 2008 – December 2009........................................................................................................................2 Table 3. Nongovernmental Iraqi Civilian and Police/Security Forces Casualty Estimates ............8 Contacts Author Contact Information ........................................................................................................9 Congressional Research Service Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces U.S. Military Casualties The following casualty data were compiled by the Department of Defense (DOD) as tallied from the agency’s press releases. Table 1 provides statistics on fatalities during Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began on March 19, 2003, and is ongoing, as well as on the number of fatalities since May 1, 2003, plus statistics on those wounded but not killed, since March 19, 2003.1 Statistics may be revised as circumstances are investigated and as all records are processed through the U.S. military’s casualty system. More frequent updates are available at DOD’s website at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/ under “Casualty Update.” A detailed casualty summary that includes data on deaths by cause, as well as statistics on soldiers wounded in action, is available at DOD’s website at http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/ personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm. Table 1. Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Fatalities and Wounded as of February 1, 2010, 10 am EST Fatalities Hostilea Non-Hostileb Total March 19, 2003, to the Present May 1, 2003, to the Present 3,478 3,360 900 866 4,378 4,226 Wounded March 19, 2003, to the Present Returned to Duty within 72 Hours 17,728 Not Returned to Duty within 72 Hours 13,482 Total 31,210 Source: http://www.defense.gov/news/casualty.pdf Notes: President George W. Bush’s statement that combat operations in Iraq had ended can be found in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, May 1, 2003, p. 516. a. According to the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, as amended through 31 August 2005, a “hostile casualty” is a victim of a terrorist activity or a casualty as the result of combat or attack by any force against U.S. forces, available at http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA43918. b. The above-named reference defines a “nonhostile casualty” as a casualty that is not directly attributable to hostile action or terrorist activity, such as casualties due to the elements, self-inflicted wounds, or combat fatigue. Iraqi Casualties Iraq Ministries’ Data In October 2009, the Iraq Ministry of Human Rights published a new report with a tally of 51,675 “martyred victims,” or civilians who have died and been identified, and 34,019 “bodies found,” or civilians who have died but who were not identified, for a total of 85,694 civilian deaths from 2004 through 2008. 2 This total includes only those deaths due to terrorist attacks, defined as 1 2 Operation Iraqi Freedom will be called “Operation New Dawn” as of September 1, 2010. Rebecca Santana, “85,000 Iraqis killed in almost 5 years of war,” Associated Press, October 15, 2009. Congressional Research Service 1 Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces “direct bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, and forced displacement of the population.”3 In other words, the Iraq Ministry of Human Rights does not include in its total any civilian deaths that may have been due to coalition occupation or fighting between militias within Iraq. Some media sources misrepresented the data by seeming to confuse the “bodies found” category and adding it to the total of civilian deaths, which already included the “bodies found” number. In addition to the report by the Iraq Ministry of Human Rights, the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of the Interior, and Ministry of Health have, on an irregular and incomplete schedule, reported monthly death statistics for Iraqi civilians, police, and security forces. The process of collecting and distributing such data on the deaths of civilians, police, and security forces seems now to have become more standardized, and over the past year, all three ministries have regularly released similar information to the news media, though not in the form of official press releases. 4 These Ministries have not, however, provided estimates of the total number of civilian deaths. The Ministries’ statistics are provided in Table 2 and, in chart form, in Figure 1, below. Table 2. Iraq Ministries: Civilian and Police/Security Forces Deaths, January 2008 – December 2009 Date Civilian Police/Security Forces January 2008a 463 78 February 2008b 633 85 923 156 April 2008 N/A N/A 2008d 504 59 June 2008 N/A N/A July 2008e 387 78 August 2008f 383 48 September 2008g 359 81 October 2008h 278 40 November 2008i 297 43 2008j 240 76 140 51 211 47 185 67 April 2009n 290 65 May 2009o 134 31 June 2009p 370 68 July 2009q 223 52 March May 2008c December January 2009k February March 2009l 2009m 3 Iraq Ministry of Human Rights, “The Mechanism of a Comprehensive Periodic Review/Iraq,” October 2009. News reports continue to differ slightly. For instance, August 2009 articles differed on whether there were 223 or 224 Iraqi civilian deaths in July 2009. Also, data from April and June 2008 are missing. 4 Congressional Research Service 2 Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces Date Civilian Police/Security Forces 393 63 125 78 343 67 November 2009u 88 24 December 2009v 306 61 7,275 1,418 August 2009r September October 2009s 2009t Totals Source: Prepared by CRS using noted sources below. Does not include data from the Iraq Ministry of Human Rights report. a. “Iraqi civilian deaths down in Jan to 23 month low,” Dow Jones International News, February 1, 2008. b. Paul Tait, “Iraq Wrapup 3 -Iraq casualties rise again after Qaeda bombs,” Reuters, March 1, 2008. c. “Iraqi casualties at highest level since mid-2007,” Reuters, April 1, 2008. d. “Iraq violence dips as U.S. records lowest monthly toll,” Agence France Presse, June 1, 2008. e. “Iraq monthly toll down,” Agence France Presse, September 1, 2008. f. Ibid. g. “Iraq violence kills 440 in September,” Agence France Presse, October 1, 2008. h. Tina Susman, “World; U.S., Iraqi deaths dip in October,” Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2008. i. “Iraq death toll rises in November,” Agence France Presse, December 1, 2008. j. Salam Faraj, “Iraq hails lowest monthly death toll in nearly three years,” Agence France Presse, January 1, 2009. k. “Iraq death toll ‘lowest since invasion,’” Agence France Presse, February 1, 2009. l. Ammar Karim, “Iraq death toll rises to 258 in February: ministries,” Agence France Presse, March 1, 2009. m. “March violence claims claims 252 Iraqi lives,” Agence France Presse, April 1, 2009. n. “April toll in Iraq the deadliest for seven months,” Agence France Presse, May 1, 2009. o. Sameer N. Yacoub, “May sees dramatic drop in Iraq deaths following bloodiest month of the year; Bombing kills four in Baghdad Monday, signaling capital is far from secure,” Associated Press, June 2, 2009. p. Liz Sly, ”June death toll of Iraqis is highest in 11 months; The sharp increase in fatalities could be tied to the U.S. troop withdrawal from cities,” The Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2009, p. A-24. q. “Iraqi death toll down in July: ministries,” Agence France Presse, August 1, 2009. r. “Iraq death toll in August highest in 13 months,” Agence France Presse, September 1, 2009. s. “Iraq death toll falls by half in September: officials,” Agence France Presse, October 1, 20009. t. “Iraq death toll doubles in October: officials” Agence France Presse, November 2, 2009. u. Ammar Karin, “Iraq November death toll lowest since US invasion,” Agence France Presse, December 1, 2009. v. “Iraq death toll in 2009 lowest since the invasion,” Agence France Presse, January 1, 2010. Congressional Research Service 3 Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces Figure 1. Iraq Ministries: Civilian and Police/Security Forces Deaths 1000 900 800 Deaths 700 600 Civilian Police/Security Forces 500 400 300 200 100 Ja n0 M 8 ar -0 M 8 ay -0 8 Ju l-0 Se 8 p0 N 8 ov -0 Ja 8 n0 M 9 ar -0 M 9 ay -0 9 Ju l-0 Se 9 p0 N 9 ov -0 9 0 Date Source: Iraqi government figures as reported in various news stories; see “Source” for Table 2, above. Note: Does not include data from the Iraq Ministry of Human Rights report. U.S. Department of Defense Data DOD also tracks Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces deaths though they only release trends and not the statistics themselves. Readers should therefore note that DOD has not released the specific numbers associated with either Figure 2, on Iraqi civilian deaths, or Figure 3, on Iraqi security forces deaths, and that instead these charts are estimated renditions of DOD’s original charts. DOD’s tracking has shown an overall decline in war-related deaths from 2008 through 2009. Until the September 2009 quarterly DOD report, Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq, two civilian casualty estimates were given: one, a combination of coalition and Iraqi estimates, and the other (much lower) estimate from coalition sources alone. Now, however, As a consequence of the movement of U.S. forces out of Iraqi cities on June 30, 2009, the U.S. has experienced reduced visibility and ability to verify Iraqi reports. Without a robust U.S. presence, Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) has begun reporting metrics that include host nation reports that it may not be able to independently verify. The overall trends between Coalition force data and host nation data are very close, but some values may change. Current charts show a combination of Coalition and Host-Nation reported data. The combination of these reports causes baseline numbers to increase, making it difficult to compare these charts with those presented in previous publications of this [DOD] report.5 5 Department of Defense, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, September 2009, http://www.defense.gov/pubs/ pdfs/9010_Report_to_Congress_Nov_09.pdf, p. iii. Congressional Research Service 4 Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces In practical terms, this has meant that, in addition to getting rid of the lower coalition casualtyonly estimate for civilians, DOD has also revised all of the security forces casualty estimates upward. For instance, in the previous update of this report and using DOD’s charts, it was estimated that there had been 30 Iraqi security forces deaths in May 2009. This time, using DOD’s revised figures, it is estimated that there were 90 Iraqi security forces deaths in the same month. Figure 2. Department of Defense: Iraqi Civilian Deaths, January 2006 – August 2009 4000 3500 3000 Deaths 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 Ja nM 06 ar M -06 ay -0 Ju 6 lSe 06 pN 06 ov Ja 06 nM 07 ar M -07 ay -0 Ju 7 l- 0 Se 7 pNo 07 vJa 07 nM 08 ar M -08 ay -0 Ju 8 lSe 08 pN 08 ov Ja 08 nM 09 ar M -09 ay -0 Ju 9 l- 0 9 0 Date Source: CRS rendition of DOD graph, as derived from Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, September 2009, p.22, at http://www.defense.gov/pubs/pdfs/9010_Report_to_Congress_Nov_09.pdf. According to Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq. Notes: This graph “does not include civilian deaths due to accidents unrelated to friendly or enemy actions. As a result of the June 30, 2009 withdrawal from cities, U.S forces must now rely on host nation reporting as the primary data source.” This chart shows a combination of Coalition and host nation reported data. Congressional Research Service 5 Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces Figure 3. Department of Defense: Iraq Security Forces Deaths, January 2006 - August 2009 700 600 Deaths 500 400 300 200 100 Ja nM 06 ar M -06 ay Ju 06 lySe 06 pt N 06 ov Ja 06 nM 07 ar M -07 ay Ju 07 lySe 07 pt No 0 7 vJa 07 nM 08 ar M -08 ay Ju 08 ly Se -08 pt N 08 ov Ja 08 nM 09 ar M -09 ay -0 Ju 9 l- 0 9 0 Date Source: CRS rendition of DOD graph, as derived from Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, September 2009, p.22, at http://www.defense.gov/pubs/pdfs/9010_Report_to_Congress_Nov_09.pdf. Notes: According to Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, “as a result of the June 30, 2009 withdrawal from cities, U.S forces must now rely on host nation reporting as the primary data source. Current charts now show a combination of Coalition and host nation reported data. The combination of these reports causes baseline numbers to increase, making it difficult to directly compare these charts with those presented in previous publications of this [DOD] report.” Nongovernmental Data In 2006, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Baghdad’s Al-Mustansiriya University published their most recent cluster study on Iraqi civilian casualties, commonly referred to in the press as “the Lancet study” because it was published in the British medical journal of that name. The study surveyed 47 clusters and reported an estimate of between 426,369 and 793,663 Iraqi civilian deaths from violent causes since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom to July 2006.6 In a more recent cluster study, a team of investigators from the Federal Ministry of Health in Baghdad, the Kurdistan Ministry of Planning, the Kurdistan Ministry of Health, the Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology in Baghdad, and the World Health Organization formed the Iraq Family Health Survey (IFHS) Study Group to research violencerelated mortality in Iraq.7 In their nationally representative cluster study, interviewers visited 89.4% of 1,086 household clusters; the household response rate was 96.2%. They concluded that 6 Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy et al., “Mortality After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: A Cross-Sectional Cluster Sample Survey,” The Lancet, October 21, 2006, 368 (9545), pp. 1421-1429. 7 Iraq Family Health Survey Study Group, “Violence-Related Mortality in Iraq from 2002 to 2006,” The New England Journal of Medicine, January 31, 2008, pp. 484-492. Congressional Research Service 6 Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces there had been an estimated 151,000 violence-related deaths from March 2003 through June 2006 and that violence was the main cause of death for men between the ages of 15 and 59 years during the first three years after the 2003 invasion. This study seems to be widely cited for violence-related mortality rates in Iraq. Neither the Lancet study nor the IFHS study distinguish between different victims of violence, such as civilians versus police or security force members. The studies do not reflect trends that occurred during the period of the most intense civil violence from early 2006 through the end of 2008. In 2007, a British firm, Opinion Business Research (OBR), conducted a survey in Iraq in which they asked 2,411 Iraqis, “How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (i.e., as a result of violence rather than a natural death such as old age)? Please note that I mean those who were actually living under your roof?” Extrapolating from their results, OBR estimated “that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003.”8 The Iraq Body Count (IBC) website bases its online casualty estimates on media reports of casualties, some of which may involve security forces as well as civilians. 9 Using media reports as a base for casualty estimates can entail errors: some deaths may not be reported in the media, while other deaths may be reported more than once. The IBC documents each of the civilian casualties it records with a media source and provides a minimum and a maximum estimate. As of February 25, 2010, the IBC estimated that between 95,428 and 104,119 civilians had died as a result of military action. In a separate analysis of its data, the IBC also estimated that, between January 2006 and November 2008, 4,884 Iraqi police had been killed.10 Finally, the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count (ICCC) is another nonprofit group that tracks Iraqi civilian and Iraqi security forces deaths using an IBC-like method of posting media reports of deaths. ICCC, like IBC, is prone to the kind of errors likely when using media reports for data: some deaths may not be reported in the media, whereas other deaths may be reported more than once. The ICCC estimates that there were 47,124 civilian deaths from March 2005 through February 25, 2010, and 8,100 security forces were killed from January 2005 to February 25, 2010.11 The Associated Press has kept a database of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces dead and wounded since April 2005. According to its database, between April 28, 2005, and December 4, 2009, 39,036 Iraqi civilians and 7,551 Iraqi police and security forces have died.12 8 The Opinion Business Research, “New analysis ‘confirms’ 1 million+ Iraq casualties,” January 28, 2008, at http://www.opinion.co.uk. 9 Iraq Body Count at http://www.iraqbodycount.net. IBC is a nongovernmental organization managed by researchers and volunteers. 10 Iraq Body Count at http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/surge-2008/. 11 Iraq Coalition Casualty Count at http://icasualties.org/Iraq/IraqiDeaths.aspx. ICCC is a nongovernmental organization managed by researchers and volunteers. 12 CRS discussion with the Associated Press, December 4, 2009. The AP noted that “[t]hese numbers are considered a minimum, based on AP reporting. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported or uncounted. We tally civilian, Iraqi military and Iraqi police deaths each day as reported by police, hospital officials, morgue workers and verifiable witness accounts. The security personnel include Iraqi military, police and police recruits, and bodyguards. Insurgent deaths are not included.” Congressional Research Service 7 Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces Finally, the Brookings Institution has used modified numbers from the U.N. Human Rights Report, the Iraq Body Count, the U.S. Central Command’s General David Petraeus’s congressional testimony given on September 10-11, 2007,13 and other sources to develop its own composite estimate for Iraqi civilians, police, and security forces who have died by violence. By combining all of these sources by date, the Brookings Institution estimates that between May 2003 and November 2009, 111,437 Iraqi civilians died and between June 2003 and February 16, 2010, 9,381 Iraqi police and security forces died.14 Table 3 provides Iraqi civilian, security forces and police officers casualty estimates from nongovernmental sources, as well as an estimate of deaths using the charts in Figure 2 and Figure 3. These estimates are based on varying time periods and have been created using differing methodologies, and therefore readers should exercise caution when using and comparing these statistics. Table 3. Nongovernmental Iraqi Civilian and Police/Security Forces Casualty Estimates Source Iraq Body Count Iraq Coalition Casualty Countc Associated Pressd Brookings Iraq Index Civilians Police/Security Forces 95,428 – 104,119a 4,884b (Police only) March 19, 2003 – February 25, 2010 January 1, 2006 – November 30, 2008 47,124 8,100 (Security Forces only) March, 2005 – February 25, 2010 January 2005 –February 25, 2010 39,036 killed 7,551 killed 58,596 wounded 8,535 wounded April 28, 2005 – December 4, 2009 April 28, 2005 – December 4, 2009 111,437 e 9,381f May 2003 – November 2009 June 2003 – February 16, 2010 Estimate using the Multi-National Corps - Iraq report, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, September 2009 58,065 (Coalition and Iraqi Reports)g 11,560h January 2006 – August 2009 (Security Forces only) Opinion Business Researchi “Over 1,000,000” January 2006 – August 2009 March 2003 – September 2007 The Iraq Family Health Survey (the “WHO study”)j 151,000 (May include police and/or security forces) March 2003 - June 2006 13 Reproduced in the Department of State Iraq Weekly Status Report, September 12, 2007, at http://20012009.state.gov/documents/organization/92176.pdf. 14 Brookings Institution, Iraq Index: Tracking Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam Iraq, February 17, 2010, at http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/Centers/Saban/Iraq%20Index/index.pdf. Congressional Research Service 8 Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces Source The Lancet, “Mortality after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq” k Civilians Police/Security Forces 426,369 - 793,663 (May include police and/or security forces) March 19, 2003 - July 31, 2006 Sources: Prepared by CRS using noted sources below. a. Iraq Body Count, February 25, 2010, at http://www.iraqbodycount.org/. b. Iraq Body Count, February 25, 2010 at http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/surge-2008/. c. Iraq Coalition Casualties Count, February 25, 2010, at http://icasualties.org/Iraq/IraqiDeaths.aspx. d. CRS discussion with Associated Press, December 4, 2009. The Associated Press notes: “These numbers are considered a minimum, based on AP reporting. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported or uncounted. We tally civilian, Iraqi military and Iraqi police deaths each day as reported by police, hospital officials, morgue workers and verifiable witness accounts. The security personnel include Iraqi military, police and police recruits, and bodyguards. Insurgent deaths are not included.” e. Brookings Institution, Iraq Index: Tracking Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam Iraq, February 25, 2010, p. 5, at http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/Centers/Saban/Iraq%20Index/index.pdf. f. Ibid, pg. 6. g. Derived from Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, September 2009, p .24. http://www.defense.gov/pubs/ pdfs/9010_Report_to_Congress_Nov_09.pdf. h. Ibid, pg. 23. i. The Opinion Business Research, “New analysis ‘confirms’ 1 million+ Iraq casualties,” January 28, 2008, at http://www.opinion.co.uk. j. Iraq Family Health Survey Study Group, “Violence-Related Mortality in Iraq from 2002 to 2006,” The New England Journal of Medicine, January 31, 2008, pp. 484-492. k. Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy et al., “Mortality After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: A CrossSectional Cluster Sample Survey,” The Lancet, October 21, 2006, 368 (9545), pp. 1421-1429. Author Contact Information Hannah Fischer Information Research Specialist hfischer@crs.loc.gov, 7-8989 Congressional Research Service 9