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    National Guard deaths in Iraq

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    WASHINGTON — In a reversal of trends from past wars, part-time soldiers in the Army National Guard are about one-third more likely to be killed in Iraq than full-time active-duty soldiers serving there, a USA TODAY analysis of Pentagon statistics shows.

    According to figures furnished by the military branches, the active Army has sent about 250,000 soldiers to Iraq, and 622 have been killed. That works out to one death for every 402 soldiers who have deployed. About 37,000 Army Guard soldiers have been sent to Iraq since the war began and 140 have died there — one fatality for every 264 soldiers who have served, or about a 35% higher death rate.

    There are several reasons for the greater death rates among so-called part-time soldiers, who generally drill one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer when there's no war. The Pentagon has called up thousands of part-time troops for tours of a year or more in Iraq. Some of the most dangerous missions, including driving convoys and guarding bases and other facilities, frequently are assigned to Guard and reserve troops. Iraqi insurgents have attacked convoys with roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, and a Tennessee Guardsman publicly complained to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week about the lack of armor on some vehicles.

    Active-duty casualties have spiked during major battles such as the attack on Fallujah, largely carried out by Army and Marine troops. But such engagements have rarely been waged since President Bush declared major combat over in May 2003.

    Other branches with troops in harm's way in Iraq — the Army Reserve, the Marine Corps, the Air Force and the Navy — did not supply total numbers of their troops deployed to Iraq since the war began in March 2003, which would have made similar comparisons possible. But fatality numbers show the vast majority of U.S. deaths in Iraq come from the active-duty Army, active-duty Marines, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. The Marines have lost 350 troops, while the Army Reserve has suffered 59 deaths. The Air Force and Navy together have suffered 27 deaths.




    Total deaths 58,209

    Army National Guard 94

    Army Reserve 0

    Desert Storm

    Total Deaths 382

    National Guard 0

    Army Reserve 34

    Iraqi Freedom

    Total Deaths 1,286

    National Guard 140

    Army Reserve 59

    Source: Defense Department

    Those casualties don't represent all 1,286 Iraq deaths because they exclude several categories, including Marine Corps Reserve.

    The elevated death rates among part-time soldiers are a significant shift from the past. During most wars in the last century, the full-time military took most of the casualties, and their troops were much more likely to die in battle than Guardsmen and reservists.

    In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, for example, the Army Guard suffered no fatalities out of 382 U.S. deaths. A total of 94 Army National Guardsmen and no reservists were killed out of 58,209 U.S. deaths in Vietnam.

    "It's a changed paradigm," says Richard Stark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "We have completely crossed the line in terms of what it is to be a citizen-soldier."

    It's unclear what effect the elevated death rate will have on the part-time military's ability to recruit and keep soldiers. Although the Guard has met its goals for retaining soldiers since the war began, it missed its recruiting goal of 56,000 soldiers last year by about 7,000 and has fallen behind this year.

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    The deployment of guard units to Iraq, on a scale never seen even in the Vietnam war, has driven the cost of the war deep into middle America. In 2005, guard forces were at one point more than half the combat forces in Iraq (a percentage never reached in the far greater guard mobilisations of both world wars). And while National Guard and reserve deaths were a quarter of all US fatalities since the war began, this year they increased: for August and September 2005 they were 56%.


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    I am not sure what the source of your article is, but it is not recent, as the anecdote about a Guardsman asking Secretary Rumsfeld about HMMWV up-armoring shows.

    As of February 3, 2007, Army casualties in Iraq were as follows:

    Army: 1,291 hostile deaths; 303 non-hostile deaths, 10,878 WIAs.

    Army Reserve: 79 hostile deaths; 33 non-hostile deaths, 981 WIAs.

    National Guard: 306 hostile deaths; 101 non-hostile deaths, 3,270 WIAs.

    As for the reason for the discrepancy between OIF and other conflicts, the first article glossed over and merely alluded to the simplest reason: unlike the prior conflicts the article cites - Vietnam and Desert Storm - OIF has involved heavily National Guard combat units. Few Guard units were sent to Vietnam, and in Desert Storm, the overwhelming majority of Guard and Reserve units deployed were support units. The brunt of the fighting was by regular units. Your second post at least alludes to that, but doesn't really analyze it.

    I don't know about non-divisional units, but during World War II, Army divisions suffered 138,262 combat deaths. This was 58.8% of all Army combat deaths. The Army Air Force suffered 40,061 combat deaths, or 17.06%. Most of the other combat casualties were to non-divisional units directly supporting divisions, such as tank destroyer battalions, etc. National Guard divisions suffered 39,483 of these combat deaths, which was more than were suffered by regular Army divisions. The rest of divisional deaths were suffered by Organized Reserve divisions, which made up the majority of WW2 divisions. Also, the Army's overall death rate was one for every 35 soldiers, and the battle death rate was one for every 48.

    As for World War I, divisions took an even higher percentage of casualties, given the nature of the war. Divisions took 94% of all battle deaths. National Guard divisions suffered 18,233 battle deaths, or 39% of all divisions, and 36% of all battle deaths. Still, the highest casualty rates were suffered by the first three regular divisions, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions. These three divisions alone took 24% of all deaths in World War I.

    If you choose as a baseline Vietnam and Desert Storm, conflicts where the Guard's role was minor, you will get a misleading perception. Similarly, if you tried to compare the low rate of reserve deaths to World War II, where the reserve was the majority of forces, you get another skewered perception.

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