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I happened to look at yesterday's AP Breaking News and checked out its regular news item "A Daily Look at U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq"

It informs the reader:

The latest deaths reported by the military:
  • A soldier was killed Tuesday during security operations in Iraq's Anbar province.
  • A soldier died of a non-combat injury Wednesday at a base near Tikrit.
  • A soldier died in a vehicle accident Wednesday in Iraq's Diyala province.
  • A soldier died in a vehicle accident Wednesday near Balad.

What caught my eye was the two deaths in a vehicle accident. It prompted the thought that this reason seemed to appear with a very high frequency.

These are not deaths whilst driving vehicles caught in enemy fire or by roadside explosives. They are listed as  being straightforward vehicle accidents.

Delving back a bit I found the following statistics relating to such deaths since the beginning of the year:

Jan 7  -  1
Jan 16 -   1
Jan 17 -   1
Jan 25 -   5
Jan 29 -   1
Jan 29 -   1
Feb 1  -    1
Feb 10 -    1
Feb 11 -   1
Feb 13 -   3
Feb 16 -   2

This is a total of 18 deaths in one and a half months, not from any form of enemy action but simply from road accidents - collisions, vehicles turned over etc.

How does this compare with deaths from vehicle accidents back home in the USA?  Well, you guys don't do so well in this area. You are 26th in the world league table (don't despair, the Greeks are just as bad).

According to the statistics , you kill more than twice as many per 100,000 of your population than we do in the UK.

More to the point, however, is that in six weeks the nearly same number died per 100,000 of population of what are described as "vehicle accidents" in Iraq as in a whole year of even the high US death toll. (US troop levels being taken at 130,000 operational.)

O.K so this is a war zone, you might argue.

Right. But we are talking Humvees, trucks and armoured vehicles, not Porsches and hot rods. We are not talking about vehicles pushing 80 mph down your Inter-States. We are not talking about vehicles suffering damage from enemy fire - or, at least, the Pentagon isn't.

Nor are we talking about John Doe in his T-shirt and jeans, driving four hundred miles home in thick traffic. We are talking about guys in heavy duty, armoured encased vehicles driven by people wearing body protection and helmets. We are talking about highly trained, top qualified drivers.

So what is going on behind these statistics that say you have eight times more chance of being killed in a vehicle accident in Iraq than you do back home?

Are the vehicles more unsafe, the training inadequate, the protection insufficient, the procedures faulty? Or is the Pentagon using "vehicle accident" as a more comfortable description than one suggesting the involvement of some form of insurgent action?

Seventeen families in the United States in the last six weeks alone have a right to know. A Congressman or a journalist should be armed with these statistics and asking the Pentagon for an explanation.

I need to do more research over a much longer period. I need to look at the frequency against the ebb and flow of insurgency action since the invasion. I need plot these type of deaths against other types. I need to see how these compare with UK deaths from this cause in the same theater of war.

Then I need broaden the work to see what comes out of looking at the other fatalities and what this may produce in the way of questions. Not least, do the fatalities from enemy action against vehicles show a reduction in deaths since the alarms about the lack of proper armour were first raised.

What do you think? Is it worth following up?

If you think it is, recommend this diary. I'll be blunt. I am a lazy son-of-a-welshladee and I'm not doing this work if no Kossack cares. My last two diaries got 21 and 35 recommendations, still didn't make the recommended list and received less than an hour and half of visibility. If it don't show, people don't know.

I'm getting mighty bored with the wasted effort of researched diaries.

Update Since writing this, I have realised that the "four times" the deaths back home could be wildly understated. Only a small section of the military are drivers. As a percentage of all military, they may be a lot smaller than the percentage of the total population that drives. Checking. Meanwhile, some great thoughts have been posted - thanks.)

Originally posted to Welshman on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:16 AM PST.


<b>What do you think?</b>

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Comment Preferences

  •  Important diary! (4.00)

    He that chooses his own path needs no map. Queen Kristina of Sweden.

    by Boppy on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:12:22 AM PST

    •  Good graph on that topic... (4.00)
      ...can be found in this thread over at Moon of Alabama

      Use it if you want, with the appropriate hat tip to Bernhard.

      in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

      by Jerome a Paris on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:28:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The question remains... (none)
      ...will anyone pick up on this fact outside of Kos?

      The New Democrat

      Envision the future. Visit The New Democrat -

      by demburns on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:51:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think (none)
        No - they don't.  They want to support the lies.  A story such as this will not get traction until something really awful/paradigm shifting happens on Iraq.  Right now they are still aglow about the so called successful elections.  There is no talk of draft or anything related to more troops, etc.  Its the 6000 lb gorilla in our face but we are unable to say its name and acknowledge the fact that its breaking the floorboards. Also, the miscounting of deaths is an old tradition for the US - going back to Vietnam.  We were accountable then but not yet now.  The media is very different. You can give it a try - but have low expectations.

        Dreaming of clear streams, clear skies and our hearts clear and free from hate...

        by SwimmertoFreedom04 on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:51:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's only a matter of time (none)
          The lies will get supported, first by many and then by few. As time goes on, as the reality of our building permanent bases and not leaving becomes more and more apparent, then more and more of the MSM will be on our antiwar side. As it as in 'Nam.  Blogs can do their best work by speeding up this process, putting it on "Internet Time".
          •  Great film (none)
            --Highly recommend "The Battle of Algiers"...documentary look and feel  -- very true to life....about the French "experience" - occupation and then retreat from Algeria - one of their colonies.  Many, many interesting insights for us, I think....Its available in many of the larger rentals but Blockbuster can get it for you if you don't have access to the specialty places.  Its worth a look/see.

            Dreaming of clear streams, clear skies and our hearts clear and free from hate...

            by SwimmertoFreedom04 on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:57:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Credibility (none)
        We now have credibility.  Stephen Colbert as good as said this last night.  Let's push this.

        I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

        by Unstable Isotope on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 05:31:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry (4.00)
    It appears that you can't edit polls. The simple question is "What Do You Think"
  •  Good questions (4.00)
    Somebody else raised the point yesterday, I think, but not nearly as well stated as your diary. Sounds like some kind of a cover-up, doesn't it ?

    Let's get some Democracy for America

    by murphy on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:16:09 AM PST

    •  A diary yesterday, (4.00)
      which was much too short-lived. Go for it, Welshman. This topic is important and deserves closer examination.

      I suspect that traffic-related deaths are being used to hold down the overall casualty figures, rather like quibbling over the definition of "is." And, further, the tactic has probably been employed since March 2003, but we're noticing it now because of the spike in numbers.

      There's a nice-ninny priest/at tea in everyone,/all cozy and chatty as auntie,/but a saint comes/and throws rocks through the window. -- John Ciardi

      by Mnemosyne on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:34:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (none)
        They've redefined "vehicle accident".
        •  Comparison (4.00)
          Suicide attempts at Gitmo reaching alarming levels?  No sweat--just create a new statistical category: "manipulative self-injurious behavior."  I.e., they aren't really trying to kill themselves, they're just trying to manipulate us into being soft on terror.   Georgia10's diary on the subject is one of the best I've read here.  It also pointed out perhaps the most explicitly Orwellian statement I've heard a government official make.  An anonymous Pentagon spokesperson,  asked why inmates were attempting suicide, replied that "the detainees are showing remorse for their earlier deeds as members of al Qaeda and the Taliban."  [This isn't a direct quotation but the CBS reporter's paraphrase.  But you get the point.]
      •  Improvised Explosive Devices... (4.00)
        probably cause a lot of accidents.

        Rage, rage, against the lying of the Right.

        by Maryscott OConnor on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:24:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Maitenance (none)
      I heard that a lot of the money going to the military in this next budget is going to maitenance and repair.  This is because the desert heat and sand is very hard on the vehicles.  I think this could be an explanation for the higher accident rate.

      I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

      by Unstable Isotope on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 05:34:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Even if the deaths are accidents, (none)
    this is crazy.  This many accidents should not be occuring.  It is because they do not receive enough training nor have enough troops with experience.  It is a bunch of kids getting killed.

    He that chooses his own path needs no map. Queen Kristina of Sweden.

    by Boppy on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:16:13 AM PST

    •  Thoughts (4.00)
      Remember when Michael Kelly was killed along with, how many, two other soldiers?  The vehicle in which he was riding flipped and he drowned in a river.

      Ideas for research:

      1. Training:  These larger vehicles require more training in how to drive safely and how to react to emergencies.  Is there any training?

      2. Stability of Vehicles:  Are these vehicles prone to the same turnovers as SUVs?

      3. Age of Drivers:  Boppy makes a very good point.  I live in a rural county where every young man thinks he's a macho version of "Rebel Without a Cause."  They drive like maniacs, weaving in and out of (what little there is of) traffic.  They sport "REDNECK" on their windshields.  

      That four-year-old who drove his mom's car to the video store is probably a safer driver than these immature wild men.

      Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

      by SusanHu on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:09:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, this was more detailed. (none)
        We need to be questioning everything that is going on in Iraq.  Not just the validity of the war itself because we know we are right on that.

        He that chooses his own path needs no map. Queen Kristina of Sweden.

        by Boppy on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:24:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Michael Kelly? (none)
        refresh my memory - who was Michael Kelly? For some reason, I'm thinking he was one of the contractors who was killed. help, please.

        As for your three points... I discussed upthread that, even though I know very little about military process, I do know that soldiers go through increasing levels of training and responsibility, so I have to wonder - are these vehicles being driven by college-age freshfaced recruits, or trained, seasoned veterans? I honestly don't know, but it strikes me that driving a vehicle in a warzone would be considered a higher level of responsibility. Until I know more about this, I'm going to resist the temptation to compare these guys to drunken fratboys or mulletheaded teens.

        Besides, we've seen in this war an awfully large number of Guardsmen in their 30s and even their 40s over there, listed among casualties.

        ...Freedom is on the march. Straight to the gas chamber. this is infidelica...

        by snookybeh on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:31:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Other variables: (none)
        Stress, drugs (both "authorized" and unauthorized), lack of sleep, visibility conditions (sandstorms, night driving under "blackout" orders - i.e. no headlights)... I'm sure there's others but these come to mind.

        That last is a function of "war zone" but then the training specifically for driving in those conditions comes into play.

        •  YES! (4.00)
          Very good. Studies have been done on lack of sleep.  And don't you think that studies have been done on the use of "uppers" on drivers -- haven't there been studies of truck drivers who rely on uppers?  

          Also:  Distractions such as cell phones or other communications. Big factor in car accidents.

          Further distractions:  Nervous passengers shouting about perceived dangers.  

          Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

          by SusanHu on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 09:11:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Just bad roads? (none)
          Road surfaces--as in trying to avoid piles of debris, swerving to avoid huge potholes--at some point even a good driver could easily lose control ...
      •  My experience from the 80s (4.00)
        I was a driver in my military unit in the 1980s. I drove a variety of vehicles on roads from US interstates to Central American dirt paths. I don't know if military standards have changed since then, but here is my experience.

        1. Training: Training was virtually non-existant. I was licensed during basic training and in less than a day I was authorized to drive vehicles up to the Army's 5 ton truck. The training consisted basically of me driving around a dirt lot with the motor pool sergeant. The day after my training I was driving large delivery-style trucks loaded with M16s.

        2. Stability: The stability of the vehicles varies widely based on the type. The smaller vehicles like the Humvees are relatively stable for 4-wheel drives. And, like all 4WD vehicles, they become less stable at higher speeds. Keep in mind that the words "high speeds" are relative, most of the military trucks are significantly slower than thier civilian counterparts. They are designed more for all-terrain use, and they are generally heavier than civilian vehicles. The larger vehicles, like the 2-1/2 ton truck (deuce and a half), are not too stable at all. The 2-1/2 is the 3 axle vehicle you always see carrying troops and supplies. When driving this truck off-road I remember many times getting that "woo... here we go" feeling, like the truck was going to tip. The 5 ton trucks that I drove were basically like a semi, with all the same issues of civilian semis (long stopping distances, instability in fast turns, jack-knifing, etc.).

        3. Age: Yeah, like most of the other 18-19 year olds in the Army, I thought I was invincible. However, while I was in some dicey situations in Central America, it was nothing like what these guys are going through in Iraq. I know that I had my foot to the floor many times, and in a lot less dangerous situations. This kind of driving makes for some pretty hairy situations, especially in the bigger trucks.

        Also, something you did not mention is maintenance. When I was at my base in the US, vehicle inspections were conducted on almost a daily basis. In addition, the Army was fairly strict about its routine maintenance schedules. Even so, there seemed to be a lack of parts, the mechanics seemed poorly trained and inexperienced, and much of the maintenance was done by the actual troops with the mechanics just overseeing the work. This was in the best of circumstances. When in Central America, the maintenance situation was much worse. The vehicles broke down often. Due to lack of spare parts we often drove vehicles that were mechanically unsound. I often drove vehicles that were running so poorly that they could only achieve a top speed of maybe 40mph. Worse yet, I often had to drive vehicles that bad brakes or steering problems.

        And finally, these vehicles do not meet the kinds of safety standards you see on civilian vehicles. There were no shoulder belts, only a lap belt. Obviously there were no airbags. The seats are cheap steel and canvas arrangements that often would detach from the vehicle in an accident. The insides of the vehicles were stripped down, no padding on the dashboard, steering wheel, or side doors. All the inner surfaces of the vehicles were metal or hard plastic.

        I tend to think it is likely that this vehicle accident problem, if the military is being honest about these actually being accidents, is due primarily to two main reasons. Poor vehicle maintenance/safety, and dangerous driving because of the nature of the combat zone.

        There is not a lot that can be done about the danger level in Iraq right now. But I would bet that maintenance of these vehicles could be improved. If these guys are having supply problems with vehicle armor, I would imagine thier problems are even worse when it comes to spare parts. Didn't that unit that refused orders to deliver helicopter fuel a couple of months ago say that one of the reasons was that thier vehicles were in poor condition?

  •  Deaths are the tip of the iceberg (4.00)
    Don't forget that...Horrifying injuries don't always result in death, but do result in lifelong disability. Many such cases are also "vehicle accidents."
  •  You were off the recommended list because (4.00)
    there were a large number of diaries that day (the day you received 35 recs--I was surprised too) with huge numbers of recommendations. A bit  of an anomaly. Please look at the names of WHO recommended those diaries, you'll find that the list contains some of the more respected members who are writers, experts, and/or thinkers. Your work is being noticed. Have you made contact with eurokos, Jerome a Paris, and the other euro bunch? I now watch for your byline. You write on-point and well. Go get 'em tiger.

    Rolfyboy -Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. - Mark Twain

    by Rolfyboy6 on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:25:57 AM PST

  •  I have read (4.00)
    that, if a vehicle rolls over an IED that explodes and that vehicle goes a bit further and runs into a building, anyone killed or injured is counted as an accident, not as a war casualty.  Between that and not counting anyone who later dies in a hospital from battlefield injuries as a war death, they are able to keep their casualty numbers down.  I wonder if that also lowers the amount the government has to pay in benefits?  Really disgusting administration we have here.

    Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. - Orwell

    by TracieLynn on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:26:55 AM PST

    •  EXCELLENT POINT (none)
      "I wonder if that also lowers the amount the government has to pay in benefits? "

      Good point. Or simply, do they get less honours than killed in action?

      Does anyone know?

      •  I asked my mother.. (4.00)
        ..who works for the Navy, and she referred the question to someone who knows more about benefits.  His response:

        "No I think the benefits are the same no matter how the individual dies. The casualty count is the same now as it was during every war the US has ever fought. They use creative accounting for the actual count."

        I'd rather not post any names, so you can take my answer or leave it, but maybe it can give you a starting point.

        /the paper's terrified to report anything that isn't handed on a presidential spoon/
        Something non-political?

        by HeatherMG on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:50:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  clarify please (none)
          In your quote, I don't understand what is meant by the difference between casualty count and actual count.  Can you expand on that point?  Actual count of .... killed in action vs died in OR?  Actual count of wounded in action vs non combat injury?  Or someting else entirely?
          •  Well.... (none)
            I think he was talking a lot about what is mentioned in this diary - that many of the deceased soldiers aren't included in the official casualty count.  Like, if they die after they've been hospitalized, and a variety of other line-blurring tactics that I don't even want to think about.

            It can be done both ways - like how the US mysteriously killed three times the population of Vietnam before people started questioning the death count.

            /the paper's terrified to report anything that isn't handed on a presidential spoon/
            Something non-political?

            by HeatherMG on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 04:10:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure (none)
        But pretty darn sure they don't get the same death benefit.

        I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

        by Unstable Isotope on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 05:37:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not only keeps casualty numbers down (4.00)
      It also covers up such things as suicide, homicide, friendly fire ...  Pat Tilman anyone?

      I am also curious since death benefits are being discussed in Congress what the difference in death benefits to families for loved ones killed in "accidents" vs. killed in combat.  Anybody know what the current policy on death benefits is?

      These snakes are sooooo low, I wouldn't put anything past them.

    •  Where did you read it? (none)
      Can you provide authority for "not counting anyone who later dies in a hospital from battlefield injuries as a war death"?

      I've heard this before, but never seen (or found) anything substantial to back it up, and I looked into it a bit.  There is a pretty well documented effort to get war wounded out of country very quickly which is chalked up to improved medical care, but which also would have the effect of reducing casualty stats if they are as you state above.

      Counting - it's hard work.

      •  I'm sure better (none)
        examples could be found, but here is what I found on a quick google search.  Sorry for the length.

        Schneider saw another convoy coming in his direction - a line of HETS (heavy equipment transports), big rigs on steroids, hogging the road. The first HET just missed hitting his truck. The second one did not.


        Today, Schneider walks with a limp, on his artificial leg. But even though he was injured while on a mission in a war zone - and even though he'll receive the same benefits as a soldier who'd been shot - he is not included in the Pentagon's casualty count. Their official tally shows only deaths and wounded in action. It doesn't include "non-combat" injured, those whose injuries were not the result of enemy fire.


        How many injured and ill soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines - like Chris Schneider - are left off the Pentagon's casualty count?

        Would you believe 15,000? 60 Minutes asked the Department of Defense to grant us an interview. They declined. Instead, they sent a letter, which contains a figure not included in published casualty reports: "More than 15,000 troops with so-called 'non-battle' injuries and diseases have been evacuated from Iraq."

        Many of those evacuated are brought to Landstuhl in Germany. Most cases are not life-threatening. In fact, some are not serious at all. But only 20 percent return to their units in Iraq. Among the 80 percent who don't return are GIs who suffered crushing bone fractures; scores of spinal injuries; heart problems by the hundreds; and a slew of psychiatric cases. None of these are included in the casualty count, leaving the true human cost of the war something of a mystery.


        "You have to say that the total number of casualties due to wounds, injury, disease would have to be somewhere in the ballpark of over 20, maybe 30,000," says Pike.

        His calculation, striking as it is, is based on the military's own definition of casualty - anyone "lost to the organization," in this case, for medical reasons. And Pike believes it's no accident that the military reports a number far lower than his estimate.


        The memories of killing invaded his mind. Soon after he returned home, Alstrom's life began to unravel.

        "The drinking started immediately. I stopped sleeping. And I started getting very angry. I didn't want to talk to my family anymore. I didn't want them to see me. I didn't want to see them. I felt like they were ashamed of me," says Alstrom. "I was partly ashamed of some of the things I had done. ...I couldn't separate the killing people and killing them in combat."

        He says he's frustrated that the military says his illness is not combat-related. "I know what I was like before I went to combat. I had a life beyond the Army," says Alstrom. "I talked to my family. I'd share feelings and emotions with people I cared about. I lived a very regular life."

        Alstrom won't get a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq. It was only his mind that was wounded in battle. "It doesn't matter what the paperwork says. We know what happened over there. We know what we did over there," says Alstrom. "And no piece of paperwork saying that I'm not a casualty could ever take that away. For any of us."


        "Every one of us went over there with the knowledge that we could die," says Schneider. "And then they tell you - you're wounded - or your sacrifice doesn't deserve to be recognized, or we don't deserve to be on their list - it's not right. It's almost disgraceful."

        CBS News | Iraq: The Uncounted

        Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. - Orwell

        by TracieLynn on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 10:21:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Great Google search (4.00)
          John Prine's song Sam Stone keeps going through my mind:

          Sam Stone came home
          To his wife and family
          After serving in the conflict overseas
          And the time that he served
          Had shattered all his nerves
          And left a little shrapnel in his knee
          But the morphine eased the pain
          And the grass grew 'round his brain
          And gave him all the confidence he lacked
          With a Purple Heart and a monkey on his back

          The TV show 60 Minutes did a great job on this issue. They lacked the vocal support of our outrage at the time because they did it alone.

          We've shown in the GuckertGannnon affair that all the blogs can get a single voice of anger on an issue and make things happen. The treatment of these men and women deserves at least an equal cry of real outrage from us.

        •  thanks for the reference (none)
          Especially for the clear definition of casualty as anyone lost to the organization.

          However (you knew that was coming, didn't you?).

          I'm still trying to focus on a single quesion which was not answered in the excerpt you give.  You say they are "... not counting anyone who later dies in a hospital from battlefield injuries as a war death".

          Are soldiers who are injured in combat in Iraq, flown to operating suites in other countries, then die as a result of their wounds, counted as "war deaths" or not?  Who says so, and how do they know?

          This is quite a serious matter.  Despite all, I would be shocked if casualties are counted this way.  I'd like to know what the truth is.

    •  I have a possible correction to that : (none)
      I recall reading a similar account with one significant difference :  in the version I remember, if the driver of a vehicle was killed and the vehicle crashed, the driver would be counted as a combat fatality but not the passengers.

      Merely another flavor of lie, that's all.

      We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove. -Mark Twain [Samuel Langhornne Clemens] (1835-1910)

      by Troutfishing on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 10:35:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kudos to you for your critical thought... (4.00)
    and the possibility that you may have identified a way to rid America's highways of the gas guzzling Hummer!

    The Cognitive Dissonant... "Bringing Marshmallows to the Firestorms of Freedom!"

    by Dood Abides on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:27:34 AM PST

  •  I heard (4.00)
    a soldier explaining these types of accidents a while ago.  Basically, it's true.  There are alot of deaths and injuries due to vehicle accidents.

    How so?  Everybody knows, it's hella dangerous over there.  Roadside bombs, mortar attacks, random sniping from buildings, etc.  So when your driving, you are exposed to these dangers, so basically, you want to get from point A to point B as fast as possible.

    So you're flying down these roads at extremely high speeds.  One, these are not the best quality of roads, and two, theres all kinds of obstacles, other soldiers in transit, Iraqi civilians, sheep, whatever.  So accidents happen.  And since they occur at high speeds, they can be fatal quite often.

    So yeah, they are due to simple auto accidents, no cover up.  But the accidents are directly related to the cluster fuck of the security situation (or lack of it) over there.  So they do not go down as killed in action, even though they are still casualties of Dubyas Folly.

    Strength without wisdom is a chimera, resolve without competence a travesty. - David Neiwert

    by SleepyG on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:29:22 AM PST

    •  Thanks (4.00)
      Very helpful. But 18 deaths in a dozen incidents in six weeks? That is a lot of people to go to families about.

      I would still like to know the operational driving procedures and more about causes. Not least, moving at high speed to avoid insurgents doesn't make much sense if it is almost as likely to get you killed.

      Let me know if you get anymore information.

      •  Driving Fast (none)
        Not least, moving at high speed to avoid insurgents doesn't make much sense if it is almost as likely to get you killed.

        Obviously, I can't speak for the soldiers, but all I can think about is if I was in that situation, driving on a dangerous stretch of Iraq, not moving at high speeds wouldn't make sense to me.  It's human nature, you can't imagine dying due to an auto accident when there are all those people out there trying to kill you with other methods.

        And I'm not saying don't investigate, because there may be something there.  I agree that the number seems high, and if it's the case that these accidents are shrugged off without any attempt to minimize them, it ought to be a crime.  But there is a valid explanation for them, one that I tend to believe.  Or at least it's more believable than the majority of explanations / excuses I hear coming from my government these days, for whatever thats worth.

        Strength without wisdom is a chimera, resolve without competence a travesty. - David Neiwert

        by SleepyG on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:47:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I suspect you are both right. (none)
        Missed Iraq, thank God, but my old National Guard battalion did not. They had both combat and accident fatalities, not sure about vehicle fatalities.

        Anyway, anyone in U.S. military is constantly, constantly, constantly, being harped on about safety. You lose personnel and/or equipment from accidents, and it really hits the fan. So high rate of vehicle deaths would seem to run strongly against strongly enforced military values & policies.

        But I'm disinclined to 2nd guess stories of horriffic driving conditions & paranoia there leading to fatalities.

        Will check with some vets of Iraq for their thoughts.

        Now I'm going show my ignorance of dkosworld. How can I contact you, welshman, (note failed attempt to link text) in a couple days if info is forthcoming?

        "Go in peace, errant sisters." -Horace Greeley, April, 1861

        by faithnomore on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:06:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  seat belts? (none)
        I may be wrong about this, but aren't military vehicles lacking in seat belts and airbags and such?   that might explain the higher death rate if its so

        We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

        by ScrewySquirrel on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:18:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I also suspect (none)
          that if they can call it a vehicle accident rather then a combat related death, they'll do it.

          As in say a bomb goes off in front of you and you swerve to avoid the wreckage and flip your vehicle. Some inside die. The bomb didn't kill them the accident did. Therefore rather then have to add the deaths to the embarrassing "combat death toll" they go in the "vehicle accident" less embarrassing column.

          I think they also have a policy of rapid response to any attacks. If a bomb goes off a unit is sent out to the scene as fast as possible. More like a police response.

          You might want to check into fatalities from accidents involving police vehicles in high-speed chases and such.

      •  Driving like a bat out of hell is a safety measure (none)
        ... in nonsecure environments.

        So it was in Vietnam, so it is in Iraq. Drive 100 MPH down unmarked, unpaved roads, and you're not going to get to Point B every time. Drive at a "safe" speed, and you'll get there even less often.

        Think of it as some kind of arcade video game, except that you don't get 3 more lives for a couple tokens.

        •  Exactly, (none)
          1. Going like a bat out of hell,

          2. Unsafe 3rd world roads,

          3. Mules, camels, Iraqis, bomb craters and cars in unexpected places,

          4. Vehicles that are unsafe at any speed in a crash,

          5. Hyped up 20 year old drivers, and

          6. IEDs going off behind, in front or besides you.
          •  Is there any data on Iraqi civilian accidents? (none)
            Aren't there any insurance companies in Iraq? One would think.

            In the U.S., road fatalities are highest out west, lowest in the Eastern cities. That's because death correlates directly to speed. No matter how badly people drive in Boston, there are only so many places you can get up to 95 mph. Not so in Wyoming.

          •  Not to mention. . . (none)
            . . .driving at night through areas with no electricity, and therefore, no lighting.

            To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice. Magna Carta 1215

            by Robespierrette on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 12:01:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Talk to these folks (4.00)
        Iraq vets at Operation Truth.  I've called them in the past at their NYC office, and they were very responsive.  Great group.  They're on Air America radio a lot.

        Susan in Port Angeles (my cat)

        by SusanHu on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:15:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Back in Desert Storm (none)
        I read where an enormous number of the casualities (one hundred or more) were from vehicle crashs during the big "move to the west" to outflank the Iraqi Army in Kuwait. And that conflict only lasted a couple of months. So it does not seem surprising that this pattern continues in a much more drawn out conflict.

        Another Brian Schweitzer Deanocrat

        by Ed in Montana on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 09:32:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ed, (4.00)
          Yes, there were.  As a Military Policeman during Desert Shield/Desert Storm I investigated several crashes during that time frame.  Some of them were single and multiple fatalities.  Most, unfortunately, were due to overly confident, but overly tired or stressed soldiers who made a simple driving error.  Very tragic.


    •  If you have to drive at ridiculously unsafe speeds (4.00)
      to avoid getting attacked, that's combat.

      These are NOT noncombat fatalities. It's demeaning to their families to state otherwise.

    •  Thanks (none)
      I was going to post the same thing.  Not drawing any conclusions about whether these numbers do or don't prove anything, but I've heard that military drivers move big trucks very fast to avoid taking fire.

      Obviously, a humvee going across a rocky road at 100 miles per hour might have an "accident."

  •  If you do this (none)
    I think that you are going to find that a number of woundings and deaths in Iraq are being attributed to 'other causes' and not to being in a war zone. I read an estimate months ago (can't remember where, no link right now) that stated that hundreds of wounded and possibly scores of military deaths were being hidden in this way. Hmmm... not only hidden from the American public, hidden from benefits and compensation as well. Perhaps this military penchant for wrongly cataloging incidents will account for the high number of vehicular deaths. That's my guess.
  •  And 5 more... (4.00)

    Notice that this is not one accident, but several different ones, all occuring on the same day.

  •  Not surprised (4.00)
    I would like to know more about actual driving conditions from folks there, but what I imagine is that in the cities there are few operating traffic lights, many unfilled potholes, no traffic police. When the power goes out, wouldn't the traffic lights as well?

    I would also imagine that the roads are in very poor condition in the countryside. If you completely destroy a country's infrastructure, it must wreck havoc on the ability to drive on roads.

    Consider the age group of many of the soldiers as well. There is a reason insurance is high until you reach 25 or 26.

    •  Do Humvees have seatbelts? (none)
      Doubt it.

      Even if they do, are they used routinely? Doubt it.

      Seat belts save lives, yada yada. So just the absence of seatbelt use would drive up fatalities (sorry for the pun).

      Some data
      More here

      Plenty more available, but you get the picture.

      I'd also venture that flat out fear/anxiety (the whole fucking country is a war zone, right?) along with sleep deprivation and extreme fatigue (these guys don't work regular shifts) are also major contributing factors. Ya gotta be sharp to drive sharp.

      Finally any role for drugs/alcohol/other impairments?

      In any event, yes, this is worthwhile following for all of the reasons identified upthread and down.

      "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

      by RubDMC on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:52:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes (none)
        Hummers have seatbelts.  But would you want to fumble with one if you came under fire and had to exit your vehicle quickly?


        •  are you sure... (none)
          military-use Humvees (as opposed to civilian-use Hummers have seat belts? I confess I know nothing about military vehicles, but I just can't see soldiers in anything remotely close to what could be called a "war zone," who may have to jump out of the vehicle on a split-second's notice, buckling up seatbelts.

          ...Freedom is on the march. Straight to the gas chamber. this is infidelica...

          by snookybeh on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:16:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Positive (none)
            I'm a Disabled Veteran.  I've spent many a day in Hummers.

            Military Hummers have seatbelts, and it is Army Policy that they be used.

            But like you and I both said, who the hell is going to use a seatbelt in a warzone.  

            Soldiers have worse things to worry about.  And, if you come under fire you sure don't need to be fumbling with a seatbelt.


            •  Why should you have to fumble? (none)
              Shouldn't you have release mechanisms that enable you to pop off the seatbelt a lot quicker than you could in a Pinto? If I were designing a humvee, I'd put in multiple release mechanisms you could reach in an instant no matter where your hands were. Sounds like a good investment.
              •  A lot of us tried (4.00)
                making recommendations like that in 88-90 when I first started driving Hummers in the Army.  I was just a lowly E1 thru E4 at the time and was basically ordered to shut up.

                Quick release mechanisms would be the best solution.

                Oh, and by the way.  Just so everyone knows:  The seat belts in the Hummers are slide in/click/push button release type like in cars.  BUT, that's where the similarity ends.  The webbing is cheaper and thinner than the DOT standard and they're not self tensioning like in a standard car.  The front and back seatbelts are just like the old style seatbelts in the backseat of cars.  Click them shut then pull the belt tight yourself.  No automatic tensioning or instant lockup in an emergency like what is standard for civilians.

                Also, they're anchored with small bolts into cheap metal.  They will (and I've seen it happen in medium to bad wrecks that I had to investigate during Desert Storm, some of those wrecks being fatalities) pull free.

                Hope this helps.


      •  Seat belts (none)
        I never saw any in Vietnam.  Years later, I saw a Huey with seat belts all over the interior at an air show.  I thought how strange.  How in the hell are you going get your ass out of it fast in a hot LZ.
    •  Interesting (4.00)
      You write "Consider the age group of many of the soldiers as well. There is a reason insurance is high until you reach 25 or 26."

      Valid point. Deaths of those in 15-24 age range are a few points off being double those of the 25-64 age per 100,000 popultation back home (27.4 compared to 15.1).

      But in Iraq we are talking about four times higher than back home amongst supposedly well trained, specialist drivers.

  •  Great Diary! (4.00)
    Thanks for getting us thinking, Welshman.

    A fool and his money are soon partying. Steven Wright

    by Sargent Pepper on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:35:18 AM PST

  •  The Washington Post (none)
    has a section on all of the soldiers who have died in Iraq.  Faces of the fallen.  Photos and a short snippet on the way they died.


  •  I'm asking (4.00)
    As the stepmother of a serviceman who already served in Iraq -- a serviceman who stands a very good chance of being called back to serve in Iraq again -- I'm asking for more research.

    It is NO "accident" that they are in Iraq; their CiC demanded their presence there, for the raison du jour.  I resent the implication these people died because of unforeseen incidents or through some direct fault of their own.

    If these troops are dying in a war zone, they should be treated as casualties of war.  We, the troops serving, the families of these troops, the American public, deserve no less than this.  

    We deserve the truth and not some careful parsing of our communal sacrifice.

    Thank you for looking into this, Welshman.  I'm sure there are many other family members of troops who feel as I do, even if their loved ones aren't one of those "accidents" -- yet.

    [It drives me insane that the same people who are so pro-life, believing that every zygote is a human deserving utmost protection, believe that our flesh-and-blood troops serving in a war zone are "accidents" when they die in a vehicle collision.  Hypocritical scum.]

    •  Very good point here... (none)
      about BushCo. doing everything in its power to minimize and trivialize the human cost of its callous incompetence, including re-classifying what are almost certainly roadside IED explosions using the potent RDX explosives that the Administration failed to protect at Al QaQaa, even though they were specifically warned by the IAEA to guard the stuff but Hey!...wars are messy!
  •  "Vehicle accident" (none)
    Sounds to me like if an IED blows up an unarmored Humvee, killing the occupants, that's being classified as a "vehicle accident."

    There was a shooting in a neighboring county the other day.  Someone stole a vehicle, and while fleeing the scene, ran into another vehicle.  The car thief got out of the car, went over to the other vehicle, and shot the driver in the chest, killing him.

    Would the Pentagon say that Driver #2 died in a "vehicle accident"?  Yeah, sure, makes sense to me.

    Lying, motherfucking, cocksucking weasels, every one of them.

    "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." Mencken "This is one of those times." Me

    by jsmdlawyer on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:43:37 AM PST

    •  or... (none)
      as someone suggested upthread, the IED doesn't have to do the killing itself - it could explode at or near the vehicle, cause the driver to swerve or damage the vehicle in such a way as to make it lose control, and the occupants could then crash and die. Thus dying in a "vehicle accident," not in combat.

      ...Freedom is on the march. Straight to the gas chamber. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:34:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keep posting (none)
    I'm a subscriber, and your diaries are brilliant.

    The recommended list is too unreliable.

    I read on some comment somewhere that someone thought the accidents may have been caused because the drivers are in a hurry to avoid being targetted.  Can't provide link though (and maybe it was you).

  •  Another good stats site (none) keeps running tabs on Iraqi war deaths.  He archives monthly stats, and posts daily updates.  His archives span March, 2003 to current.
  •  The research will be worth it. (none)
    Also heard that the only deaths they count as combat deaths as those who die immediately.  If they die of their wounds 2 hours later, it is not counted.  Not sure of the truth of that, but the policy on what defines a 'combat death' would be important.

    I would think that someone who dies as a direct result of a wound, even with emergency care and treatment, would be a combat death.  

    and the families of many veterans would be helpful.

    Since is exactly the type of inquiry that Col. Hackworth might be informative on, check his website and email him.  He has answered even this grandma and was very courteous to a non-military person.  

    He is doing great work on keeping track of enlistment violations, number of rapes in the military (higher than anyone can imagine), etc.  he might have immediate info, but also might be willing to get info from his sources inside the military.  He is VERY well connected to the brass I might add.

    •  Thank you (none)
      I was unaware of the site. I have bookmarked it. Could be very helpful.
      •  He is doing a great service (none)
        someone linked to his site many moons ago during the leadup to the war, and I have checked in with it periodically ever since.

        It is mostly for service people, but he is keeping tract of many issues important to the service.  He is soliciting info on recruiting tactics (bonus/bribes) and wants people to send him info with their identity being keep secret.  He is also keeping tabs on the number of rapes in the military (soaring).  Again people can let him know anonymously.  And his articles are always of interest.  He doesn't do anti-Bush tiarades as such, but he is critical of the planning and execution, and hyper critical of the caring for the troops.  

        He is one of the most decorated war veterans ever.  And he appears to be a man who can be trusted.  I sent him an email saying that as a layperson I was glad he was watching out for our best and brightest serving our country.  He sent me a reply thanking me for the support and saying that this has become a mission for him until the power that be give better care to 'his' troops.  And, he said, he is taking names about who is doing the abusing.

      •  This site is also handy (none)
         as it provides place references, and seems to be updated daily. It also mentions Iraqi deaths, not that we care about those!

        By that, I mean Today In Iraq

        War News for Thursday, February 17, 2005

        Bring `em on: Three Iraqi soldiers killed by car bomb near Duluiyah.

        Bring `em on: Iraqi colonel killed in patrol ambush near Kirkuk.

        Bring `em on: Two Iraqi soldiers killed in mortar attack near Dujail.

        Bring `em on: Two Iraqi policemen killed in patrol ambush near Tikrit.

        Bring `em on: Oil pipelines sabotaged neat Kirkuk and Beiji.

        Bring `em on: One US soldier killed in action in al-Anbar province.

        Bring `em on: Seven Iraqi soldiers wounded by roadside bomb near Kirkuk.

        Bring `em on: Insurgents execute eight Iraqis working for US forces near Dujail.

        Bring `em on: Four US soldiers wounded by roadside bomb near Baghdad.

        Bring `em on: One Iraqi policeman, eight insurgents killed in heavy fighting near Baquba.

        Bring `em on: Fighting reported in Ramadi and Samarra.

        Bring `em on: US convoy ambushed near Mosul.

        Bring `em on: Crowd kills suspected suicide bomber in Baghdad.

        Bring `em on: US troops fighting insurgents in central Baghdad.

        Two US soldiers killed, two injured in two vehicle accidents.

  •  Dude (4.00)
    No offense, but I think that the only thing that the poor vehicular record that you've indicated really shows is that most 18-year-olds can't drive for shit -- warzone or no.
    •  Enjoyed that comment (4.00)
      But if you are right, then the military has absolutely no right to ask them to drive. It is not just the drivers that are at risk.

      Sorry, though. The question is not that they are being killed but why, and why in such large numbers, and what the hell is being done about it.

    •  that's way too flip... (none)
      as Welshman points out, these are highly-trained personnel, not a bunch of stupid, drunk fratboys.

      And besides, do we know the average age of military personnel who are driving vehicles? Not everyone in Iraq is doing the driving, obviously - do we know if the ones getting killed in these "accidents" are fresh-faced recruits, or thirty-five year old Guardsmen? I have no military experience and no expertise on the issue, but I have to wonder if, given the increasing levels of training and responsibility a soldier accumulates over time, if driving a vehicle in a warzone is something you allow a young rookie to do very often.

      ...Freedom is on the march. Straight to the gas chamber. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:22:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (none)
        The Army HMMWV Driving Course that I attended was all of two days long.

        It had nothing to do with driving in combat.  It was all about how to drive through mud, over obstacles, up and down steep inclines/declines, etc.

        Nothing about high speed maneuvering, speed braking, offensive or defensive driving, crashing barricades, PIT maneuvers, etc.

        They have to drive based on what they've learned in the real world and what they pick up on in combat.  And let's face it, 18, 19, 20,... year old young men don't have a lot of experience.


        •  agreed, but... (none)
          again I have to wonder - how many of the drivers are that young? It sounds like you've served, so you have more insight into this than I do.

          ...Freedom is on the march. Straight to the gas chamber. this is infidelica...

          by snookybeh on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:56:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd say a great number (none)
            if not the majority of HMMWV drivers are between the age of 18 and 25.  I don't have any statistics to back that up.  (Side note: I am researching that as we chat/comment.  But, since the majority of the Army is comprised of young men under the age of 30 it would stand to reason that it's true.  However, I don't know for sure, yet.)

            Please check for my comments above this one,... ohhhh ten or so comments,.. about the use of seatbelts.


          •  Look for (none)
            The comment Not surprised, by DKos member Jiffykeen.

            My comments are underneath that one.


  •  Seat belts (none)
    Ok, I know this probably sounds silly, but I am wondering if some are killed b/c they are thrown from their vehicle. A typical roll-over could very well kill someone not buckled up if they were flung out of their humvee.  
    I hope that you will research this subject, particularly to find out if, as you speculate, the bland explanation of 'vehicle accident' is being used as a more 'comfortable' description.
    Please continue your diaries. I love clicking on a 'Welshman' diary, b/c I know that I'll be reading a thoughtful, thoroughly researched article.  And as much fun as the WYFP type of diaries can be, diaries such as yours are the reason I 'read' DKos.
  •  exhaustion (4.00)
    A friend and I once drove the 800 miles or so from Chicago to Philadelphia leaving around midnight, and driving non-stop until 2 or 3 PM the next day.  Around noon, I remember looking at the divider between the lanes and seeing dozens of philosophers' names spray-painted on the cement -- Kant...Hegel...Plato...Quine...Heraclitus...Socrates...

    Setting aside the irresponsibility of my driving in that condition (we had to get there in time for the concert, man!), and ignoring the peculiarities of my hallucinatory perception, what this little anecdote reveals is that after just a few hours of rigorous driving, I was tired, exhausted, and ready to engage a cement barrier in a discourse on the Rights of Man.

    So I can just barely imagine how a soldier who's been driving around for months, doing overnight patrols, with a short-handed army presence, might feel.  Probably not very well, and occasionally, probably not well enough to handle a large machine like a Humvee.

    But I would still like to see you pursue this.  I think that more effort should be made by the media, and, obviously failing that, more effort by bloggers to raise issues related to the lengthening casualty lists, if for no other reason to continue to remind people what war is all about.

    •  Interesting (none)
      Again, though, if you are correct and it is due to a high level of exhaustion (or indeed to whatever) then the procedures should be changed. I presume there are driver hour limits as there are in the private sector. Maybe these should be lowered.

      It really is a case of if, big if, these are simply vehicle accidents then they are two high and they need addressing, whatever the cause.

      •  agreed (none)
      •  crumbling taskforce (none)
        Exhaustion from overscheduling probably means the force is overcommitted and breaking down - these casualties would be an early sign. Top down re-emphasis of driver time limits might help, but only if other troops were available to drive instead on critical missions. I bet there is no one else available. In short -  our troops may well be approaching both literal and proverbial decimation.

        Consequences would be lowered morale and more strung out on exhaustion or intoxicants (approved and unapproved). All of these would cause recklessness and inability to drive dangerously and safely at the same time.

        One other major cause could be rising incidence of "bricks from roofs" as opposition to occupation approaches 99%. Imagine the morale boost to the opposed forces if the Pentagon started listing "death by brick etc. at window" as cause of death for our once invulnerable-seeming troops.

        Together these explanations would mean that US troops were losing it at the same time as the other side is getting it together.

        So yeah, "accidental death".
        Please investigate.

        Fundamentalists = camel swallowers and gnat refuseniks "Camel swallowers." say it, they'll know...

        by citizen on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:14:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What about adrenaline? (none)
        And the big-time "crash" that comes after a shot of it?  Some shit goes down, you get amped, high-tail it out of there, then you relax, and get sleepier and sleepier, then BOOM! something happens again, repeat the cycle. Eventually you're gonna crash, one way or the other.  

        "There is no God but moolah, and Georgie helps us profit." -Invocation overheard at Republican faith breakfast

        by DrewDown on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 12:37:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I just gotta know... (none)
      who was the concert? It's been years since I've done a drive like that for a concert.

      ...Freedom is on the march. Straight to the gas chamber. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:37:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please keep researching and posting. (none)
    The clarity of thought and quality of resources that you've shared here are an important asset to this site.  I've begun reading everything you write and cite to, so please don't give up.  We definitely need your work.

    As to the vehicle accidents, if you feel there's something fishy there, do some preliminary looking to see what you find, then decide if it's worth your time.  Certainly if there is false reporting going on, it will be another very helpful nail in the coffin of this administration's credibility.

    Thanks so much for all you do.

  •  Welshman (none)
    It might also be worth comparing the stats for Iraq with a non-combat zone such as Germany, i.e. what are deaths per 100K for service personnel driving military vehicles there.

    "It is a look I know well - if he had been a subordinate commander in battle I would have immediately relieved him of his command" General Sir Michael Rose

    by NeutralObserver on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:16:22 AM PST

  •  great idea (none)
    to investigate casualty statistics.  I'm sure most of them are being covered up in some way.  

    However I remember in reading about WWII many years ago that there were a staggering number of casualties due to accidents unrelated directly to enemy fire, etc.  When you think about it, just the  process of moving large armed forces from one place to another involves considerable risk of accident.  It's not your usual morning commute.

    But I agree, these statistics should be gone over with a finetooth comb.  I would also double-check the total stats and try to ascertain if they're being minimized in some way.  I've heard rumors that they're not counting soldiers who died in hospital, or even en route to a hospital, as being killed!  I don't know how we could go about checking this but it should be done.

  • (4.00)
    According to there have been:

    24 deaths due to hostile vehicle accidents
    139 death due to non-hostile vehicle accidents (includes 8 drownings).

    •  here's the link (none)
      to a chart giving details of fatalities.  It has a search function, I don't know how useful it is.
    •  Thanks - (none)
      That's what I've been wondering; with an average of 75 attacks per day, many/most(?) of them roadside IEDs, I was thinking that the figures for "accidents" would be highly suspect if the number of vehicle attack deaths wasn't at least double.

      It isn't. I think they're hiding everything possible to minimize the impression that the insurgents are "succeeding".

  •  other explantions (none)
    what about sandstorms and poorly constructed roads as the reason for so many accidents?  Just a thought, but when you bomb a country back to the stone age and sand is flying around driving can't be easy.  And night driving?  I imagine there are few street lights outside the major cities, combined with poorly marked roads makes a possible legit explanation for the accidents.
  •  Welshman, please (none)
    don't rely on the Recommended list as to whether you should write a diary.  You have a lot of followers here who watch for you, and the Recommended list on some days can be held up on topics that are sexy for that day, or issues going on in the community, etc.  It has nothing to do with your writing.  People subscribe to your diaries, and they read them.  So write away.

    I have nothing to add on your topic other than the comments already stated, other than the obvious:  Google it through News to see what you can come up with through news report in the US every couple of days (which won't tell you much).  The military have been creative with casualty reports since time began - they were especially creative in Vietnam, and have been that way since.  

    We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

    by Mary Julia on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:24:41 AM PST

  •  Canals (none)
    If you do look into this, one thing you might try to run down is how many of these accidents are rollovers into canals.  There are a lot of them, but the information is hard to correlate.

    There's a vast canal system in Iraq and many roads run alongside canals.  I think IEDs are being placed  so that instead of blowing up the vehicle, it blows part of the bank of the canal out under the road, which rolls the heavy military vehicles into the canal.  

    You can see the advantages from the insurgents' point of view.  It's much more difficult to detect the presence of an explosive that is under the road rather than on it.  Everyone in the vehicle is in the water.  The road is more difficult to fix, etc...

  •  Impaired concentration (4.00)
    Some people on this side are working to ban the use of cell phones while driving on the theory it distracts the driver from what is happenign aroundhim/her.

    I don't know about you, but if I were driving over there, my eyes would constantly be scanning just about everything but the road.

    My son just arrived at his base after a 3 day convoy, and they had special training before leaving that went over everything they need to look for.  Not a short list.

    Add that to narrow roads with soft shoulders, and it doesn't take much to lose control and rollover.

    Also, these vehicles are frequently quite old, not getting the best of maintenance and an incident that results in damage one day, may result in a problem 2-3 days down the road.

    And, just so you know, you are 1 of a very select few who I have on my list so that I know whenever one of your diaries is up.

    And my answer to the poll would be both.

    I have heard that the Welsh are great multi-taskers.

    Bush, so incompetent, he can't even do the wrong things right.

    by JAPA21 on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:30:42 AM PST

  •  That's not the only undercount (4.00)
    Thanks to Sec. of Defense Dick Cheney's drive to privatize everything in the DoD that didn't involve actually shooting people, there are large numbers of "civilian contractors" doing work that in past years would have been done by the uniformed military.  These people, American and foreign, are killed in significant numbers as well, but we almost never hear of them.  Unless their charred bodies are spitted and displayed in a public square, they're kept very quiet.

    It would be illuminating, I'm sure, to get a real count of how many people are dying as a result of their involvement in our imperialist adventure in Iraq.  But then, that might reduce our appetite for "bringing freedom to the people of Iraq."

    You can never be too rich, too thin, or too cynical.

    by Dallasdoc on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:32:44 AM PST

  •  I look at "the list" everyday (none)
    There have been a couple of times where a humvee has gone into a canal and all aboard have been lost... I remember reading that last year and then again early this month... and someone who tried to help in both instances also lost his life.

    But I have noticed that there are a lot of non-combat related deaths... it would be interesting to follow up on both these items... what exactly do they mean by non-combat related deaths... one I know of was a heart attack... how many are suicides?  have we had any "under suspicious circumstances" meaning murders maybe?  We had some of those here in the midwest, soldiers murdered by other soldiers - I think they were reservists and they had all been to Iraq... this is a weird war...  

    You've gotten my curiousity up... so please follow up... I'll even help if you want...  

    Coalition Fallen

    You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do... Anne Lamott

    by crkrjx on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:37:51 AM PST

  •  These "accidents" must have survivors. (none)
    It looks like one or two people per incident, and there are obviously more soldiers than that in a vehicle or convoy. You'd think the survivors would be speaking up if their comrades' deaths (and their own injuries) were being misattributed.

    Those who don't remember the future are doomed to repeat it.

    by Abou Ben Adhem on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:48:26 AM PST

  •  Accidents are result of IED avoidance tactics (none)
    Vehicles are being driven too fast even when not under fire to make them harder targets for ambushes with IEDs, RPGs, etc., and as a result there are too many accidents, and when there are accidents they are more likely to be fatal. The Bush administration is calling them non-combat to keep the stats down, but it also deprives casualties of Purple Hearts and probably other benefits. It is just another case of the Bush administration screwing the troops.

    Pipe dreams are not an exit strategy.

    by TrainWreck on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:50:29 AM PST

  •  Reminds me (none)
    of how the Pentagon used to classify helos lost during the Vietnam war. If they could recover a tail rotor and build a UH-1 around it, the would say it was damage and not destroyed. Why? Because Hueys were the primary means of transports for U.S. troops in SEA, just as Hummers and Trucks are for U.S. in SWA.

    Maybe this is a way of disguising not only the death of soldiers but also the real monetary impact of the war. After all, a Hummer turned upside down in a ditch is not as expensive as one blown to bits my a mine or shreded by a heavy machine gun.

    Note to GWB, numbers don't lie, unless you lie about the numbers.

    by Ralfast on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:50:41 AM PST

  •  Not counted are: (4.00)
    - Green card soldiers, i.e. GIs that are not US nationals - GIs that are wounded and flown out to Kuwait or Germany and die there - US paid mercenaries (other than GIs), even when killed while fulfilling military jobs (convoy duty) plus all the "vehicle accidents" and "weapon discharges"... Last week there was "vehicle accident" with 3 dead followed by 5 wounded in "rescue operations" for that "accident". hmmmm
  •  Up armored in the field? (none)
    If you up armor a vehicle in the field with improvised material, it is going to throw the center of gravity off. This will effect the way the vehicle handles. The suspension will be overloaded also. These can be contributing factors because if the driver is trained on a standard configured vehicle, he/she will have unexpected results with a non-standard setup. Put 1,000 pound of cement in your trunk and try and drive like you normally would and you will get the picture.
    How many accidents were with nonstandard up armored vehicles is one question to be asked.  

    "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." --Thomas Paine "And the world from this President"--BOHICA

    by BOHICA on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:10:46 AM PST

  •  119 recommends - asked and answered (n/t) (none)

    You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

    by imagine on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:11:07 AM PST

  •  Equipment issues (4.00)
    Something else to think about is the condition of the equipment.  As we all know, you go to war with the army you've got, and the army you've got goes to war with the equipment it's got.  

    I haven't refound it yet, but I recall reading an account from an Iraq war vet where the condition of the Humvees was described in detail.  Among other problems, he mentioned very loose steering.  Loose steering, as in, you have to turn the wheel through a significant arc before your direction of travel is affected.  Also mentioned was the age of the combat vehicles, of which many date from several years before the 'first' Gulf War.  

    Additional seasons of sandstorms take their toll on vehicle condition and driveability, as I'm sure does the improvised armor many of the soldiers have attached to their vehicles to make them safer.  I guarantee that your car will not drive quite the same after you weld a few hundred pounds of steel -- or iron -- or whatever else you can dig out of the local landfill -- to it.  Now try driving it on potholed roads with few traffic controls and many people shooting at you or blowing things up in front of you.

    It's no wonder these kids are dying in their trucks, and it doesn't take a missile defense scientist to realize that most of the deaths would be prevented by deploying armored vehicles to combat zones and maintaining those vehicles properly.  Alternatively, if that's too difficult, avoiding the creation of combat zones in the first place would probably keep the deaths down.

    This is an issue that needs further investigation.
    Nice work!

  •  saving money (4.00)
    If deaths are not "combat" deaths the government will pay the family 12,000.  if its a combat death they have to pay 100,000...right?  
  •  The mainstream press (2.75)
    is already playing golf. You might as well do their job.
  •  PAY ATTENTION to the WOUNDED too. (4.00)
    I am so glad someone has final picked this up for serious research. A number of Kossaks have studied this angle, but there has been no momentum until now.
    This fact rattled around the Iraqi blogs in December of last year.
    That was twice the number of official wounded of the DoD estimates to date. You talk about the MSM not jumping on the Gannon story, how about this - 20,000 solders were so injured that they have to be flown out of Iraq. We have a force of what? 140,000 soldiers? And at least 20,000 soldiers flown out. That's a one in seven chance of being medically evacuated out of Iraq. You think the average American knows that 20,000 soldiers have been flown out of Iraq?
    This management of news is the most serious offense, as serious as lying to us about WMD and Al Qaida links, as serious as the mismanagement and torture of prisoners. If you want to take down the current administration this is the news that will do it, not Gannon.
    •  I couldn't agree more (none)
      This issue has been burning for so long. I agree with you that if we can expose the massive numbers of invisible wounded the public might finally get it that these sociopaths DO NOT CARE about our precious troops. They think they are playing a game of risk, and as long as they can afford to keep adding red, white, and blue troops to the game board it is only a matter of time until they win the game i.e. rule the world.

      Last I knew, the number of "non-combat" - hence non-existent - casualties medivac'd out without returning to the theatre is between 20,000 and 30,000. So instead of the godamned criminal recitation of 10,000 as the number of wounded, there are actually around 40,000. And that doesn't even include the thousands that have come back with crippling PTSD.

  •  Other sources (none)
    May have been suggested but talk to the folks at -- they have been studying reports of death for two years. I know they study primarily civilian deaths but I wouldn't be surprised if they have an opinion on your issue. Also look at

    There is absolutely no question that death/injury stats are being manipulated -- the only question is in what way. As the military press release says "few details about the accident were released"

    Another area where the picture is incomplete is contractor deaths. The people at have a partial listing of 207.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:40:16 AM PST

  •  dear welshman (none)
    I'd suggest to anyone who has a passion for a topic that they not focus on how many recommendations they might get when they decide to write a diary.

    One very important point to consider is that web surfers far and wide use search engines to research millions of topics per day and I've seen hundreds of dkos pages and diaries come up a la Google as I've done my research, so your reach is far beyond this site.

    The information you're interested in exploring on this topic is of interest to thousands, if not millions of people. Please follow up. We so need the truth about this war and these casualties.

    "I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats." - Eckhart Tolle

    by catnip on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:47:08 AM PST

    •  Thanks Catnip (none)
      For good reasons - diaries were liable to distort what the site is about - Kos has withdrawn DKos from Google searches.
      •  google (none)
        Only from Google news searches, as far as I know. They still come up under the standard web search feature.

        "I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats." - Eckhart Tolle

        by catnip on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 09:10:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Mr. Welshman: (none)
        That was really good advice from catnip (of course).  And it is a reminder that the audience listening to commenters here is far and wide.  And research done here will get a bigger audience, even though it seems to disappear.

        Even though Armando has warned against duplicating diaries, if a topic comes up again on an open thread, and in any discussion, mention you are doing some research on this topic to link back to the diary.

        I cannot tell you how many diaries I have read, having missed their first running, but have been linked back to.

        And thanks for your work.  And don't forget to hit some balls also.  All work and no play makes ... well you know.

  •  Note Accidents Are Due To Security Situation (none)
    A former Republican roomate (had his resume on the Heratige Foundation Website), spend a good 4 months in Iraq between May and August of last year.  He was the driver because he was new to Glock 9mm and AK-47's.  He told me that in traffic he would drive at 60 mph to avoid car bomb and IED attacks.  On the highway, the normal speed to drive was 120 mph.  
    The security situation causes many of these deaths.  This needs to be made clear to everyone who is following this war, from the pullout crowd to those supporting a stay in Iraq policy.  We need to be informed of the actual situation in the country.
    •  Kilometers Per Hour maybe (none)
      There isn't a vehicle in the inventory that can do 120 MPH. 60 kph = about 35 mph, 120 kph = about 70 mph.

      "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." --Thomas Paine "And the world from this President"--BOHICA

      by BOHICA on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:55:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bohica, (none)
        Very good point.  It's near impossible to get a hummer over 75, and the acceleration from 0-75 is dangerously slow.

        The hummer is a big, lumbering vehicle that is designed for slow to medium speeds.

        And remember.  The hummer was specifically designed during the height of the 'Cold War'.  Back when we thought the Soviets were going to swarm through the Fulda Gap in Germany.

        It was designed for the wet, muddy hills, fields, and mountains of Europe, not for the desert.  Not that it doesn't preform pretty well there, just that it wasn't really designed for it.


      •  Not A Hummer (none)
        Note my buddy was working for the CPA and drove a big black Suburban.  I just read the Hummer cracks 90, tops.
  •  I suspect (none)
    I know nothing about this stuff, but it would seem to me that the life insurance benefit we've been hearing about Bush raising lately would be the reason.  Combat deaths probably pay higher than vehicle accidents.  Getting killed in a vehicle is probably not considered to happen while doing your job.

    Free to be you, free to be me - that's Aboribinal Sin - Leonard Peltier

    by someRaven on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:54:09 AM PST

  •  Good website for this: (none)

    Welshman, please do keep writing.
    Here's another one:

  •  Investigative reporting (none)
    has uncovered things we never imagined.  Keep it up!

    I'll second catnip' statement above:  Lots of people read here, and do their own follow-up.  Can't hurt to get a question rolling...

    What Would Gandhi Do?

    by HenryDavid on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 08:57:04 AM PST

  •  The Big Picture (none)
    Above, we pointed out the causes of the high vehicular casualty rate in Iraq.  

    More importantly is to shift our view to focus on how the White House is manipulating of the news and information to distort American's view on the costs of the Iraq Occupation. I believe this is just one case.  

    Innately Americans have discounted highway deaths as the price of mobility based the belief that we control our own destiny when driving a car. By classifying these soldiers deaths as vehicular accidents, rather than combat deaths, the Bush Administration has intentionally cheapened the significance of their deaths, to maintain the fiction that the Iraq Occupation can continue to be fought on the cheap.

  •  This is a great diary. (none)
    I have another diary regarding how the BushCo is going to try and avoid the blame for the Iraq debacle and all the deaths and destruction.  

    Blame Iran:

  •  What else do you need? (none)

    Month    Hostile    Non Hostile
    Mar-03    82    10
    Apr-03    53    27
    May-03    6    35
    Jun-03    24    12
    Jul-03    28    20
    Aug-03    23    20
    Sep-03    18    15
    Oct-03    35    12
    Nov-03    94    16
    Dec-04    32    16
    Jan-04    39    13
    Feb-04    16    7
    Mar-04    35    17
    Apr-04    131    9
    May-04    65    19
    Jun-04    45    5
    Jul-04    45    13
    Aug-04    63    12
    Sep-04    74    13
    Oct-04    58    9
    Nov-04    129    12
    Dec-04    58    19
    Jan-05    74    53
    Feb-05    15    15

    Pattern is his who can see beyond shape: Life is his who can tell beyond words.

    by cnflght on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 09:39:26 AM PST

    •  Here, someone else run the percent crunchings (none)
      Since War Began: (march 20, 2003)
      tot: 1449

      Invasion (March 20-April 9th)
      H: 105
      NH: 17
      tot: 122

      Fall of Baghdad (April 9th '03- Feb 17 '05)
      H: 998
      NH: 329
      tot: 1327

      Occupation (April 9th '03-Sept '03 11th (22 weeks))
      H: 76
      NH: 101
      tot: 117

      Insurgency (Sept 11- Nov 20 (10 weeks))
      H: 109
      NH: 27
      tot: 136

      Counter-Insurg (Nov 20th-March 19th) (14 weeks))
      H: 84
      NH: 33
      tot: 117

      Anniversity (March 20th '04- July 14th'04)
      H: 256
      NH: 48
      tot: 304

      Resistance to Sov: (July 14th- Nov 4th 04)
      H: 227
      NH: 40
      tot: 267

      Falluhja Offen. (Nov 4th- Jan 30, '05)
      H: 233
      NH: 78
      tot: 311

      Post-election (Jan 30th- Feb 17th, 2005)
      H: 13
      NH: 2
      tot: 15

      Note: One has to remember that the casualties dont include the wounded. These are deaths only. Traditionally, killed-wounded ratios have been around 1-4; this war it has been ~1-6. That means more people live but more people have limbs blown off and are crippled while "living" because of the efficency of body armour.

      Pattern is his who can see beyond shape: Life is his who can tell beyond words.

      by cnflght on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 09:55:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well done welshman! (none)
    This is a worthy diary and if I wasn't so boody swamped with work right now I'd be researching on the frontlines with you mate!

    The vehicle accidents do sound fishy, especially in light of the general unnaccountability and hidden numbers that the military tend to put out, an earlier diary of mine points this out.


    "We need to get back to basics and start listening to people from outside Washington." - Howard Dean

    by deafmetal on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 09:44:47 AM PST

  •  one more site (none)
    I have been following for keeping up on the deaths and injuries.  
  •  Recommended (none)
    It may have something to do with the lack of crumple zones that production cars have. Hummvee hits wall, you hit humvee at same speed. There's no dispersion of energy. Also, these guys, from what I've heard, drive very fast in order to make it harder for a roadside bomb to be accurately detonated. Albeit a warzone as well, it still seems like a high figure, especially considdering the fact that not as many people drive in the millitary as in the general poulation.
    •  Raw footage (4.00)
      of a camera set on the dashboard of a mercenary convoy in Iraq, a la cops. (P/w guest S/n guest) Blackwater Security Counciling is based in Iraq.

      They offer soldiers upwards of $200k to retire from the military and join their forces. Even the UN uses mercinary soldiers today. The first generation of academic books is coming out on this so look this up.

      HMMVs which are armoured are very "crumple proof" and can still run.

      Pattern is his who can see beyond shape: Life is his who can tell beyond words.

      by cnflght on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 10:11:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Has anyone heard (none)
    people downplaying Iraq war casualties by saying "Yes, but how many are just accidents?  Lots of people are killed in the military when we aren't even having a war."

    Somehow that makes it all OK to them ... normal risk I guess.

  •  When they say vehicle accident... (none)
    They mean that a bullet is a vehicle and the accident is it hit some dude in the face...

    I can hear the spin now "When I said <air quotes> Vehicle Accident</air quotes> I actually meant <air quotes> Death-By-Shot-To-The-Face </air quotes>.  Now Jeoff of Hyrule what is your question?

    Galatians 6:9-And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

    by Haroshia on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 11:22:41 AM PST

  •  At odds with past operations ... (4.00)
    What is notable to me is that in past U.S. military operations (Kosovo, Haiti, Bosnia, Desert Shield / Storm), the accident / other death rate was actually lower in the operation than if the forces had remained in their home base.

    Just related to driving, why?

    •  Military personnel could not drink -- essentially zero drunk driving accidents.
    •  No requirement to be driving around to get to work, go shopping, etc ... much fewer miles driven per soldier than what might be expected 'back home'.
    •  Almost all U.S. military driving in multi-car convoys, thus 'young, male' drivers (e.g., the 19-year old driver of the HMMWV) operating under watchful eyes of others and operating within strict rules (e.g., convoy not to exceed 30 mph or such).
    • Significant oversight to try to avoid accidents (to avoid both property damage and injuries).

    Now, what might be different in Iraq to throw this equation on its head?

    1.  Lousy Iraqi drivers?  Unlikely to be "the" reason -- having been in Albania, Bosnia, Haiti, etc ..., can promise you that the "civilian" traffic was very scary / uncontrolled and creates risks for military vehicles moving on the streets.

    2.  Lousy Iraqi infrastructure?  Again, it was lousy in Somali, Haiti, etc ... Hard to imagine that Iraq was that much worse than Haiti, where many roads seemed like mass numbers of pot holes occasionally broken up by a few feet of flat pavement.

    3. Worse training of military drivers?  Hard to see how the quality has fallen so quickly but don't have statistics for this.

    4.  Driving more aggressively due to combat risks in Iraq?  This one, on the other hand, might be a reasonable explanation.  U.S. soldiers might be driving much faster, taking more risks to attempt to reduce risk from attacks by insurgents.  If this is the real basis for additional accidents / traffic deaths, perhaps these should not be classified as 'non-combat'.  A soldier who died jumping into a foxhole to avoid enemy fire would could as a combat death -- this is the same type of action.

    This is quite interesting even if the data as presented here does not allow a meaningful correlation analysis.
  •  Here's a relevant recent story. . . (none)
    This is the story of one of the recent revoked Purple Hearts.

    As Ferrell recovered and could finally, talk, he began asking questions about what had happened to him, Ahern reported. He learned the Humvee he was in was driving with no lights on -- and was involved in an accident in the middle of the night.

    "I don't recall exactly what happened, but we do know our vehicle slammed into the equivalent of an Army 5-ton [vehicle]," Ferrell said.

    To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice. Magna Carta 1215

    by Robespierrette on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 12:14:36 PM PST

  •  These are combat related deaths (none)
    Soldiers swerve their vehicles to avoid explosives or debris left by explosives and can often get into terrible accidents.  I simply don't believe the military is telling us the whole truth.  We know they underreport the number of casualties and people only get those stats from looking at hospital records.  So why wouldn't they lie or mislead about cause of death when possible?
  •  Thought-provoking (none)
    and good discussion going on. I wish I had more time to read and discuss with you. I recommended this diary, which is substantive and well-written like others of yours that I've read.

    Thanks Welshman; keep up the good work over there.


  •  Active duty military deaths (none)
    Please see the Military Casualty Information site. The first pdf table includes US Activie Military Deaths 1980 through 2002. Also includes information by conflict.

    I don't know if this helps your point or not. They are DOD numbers so my sense is that will be met by skepticism (snort) by many posting here.

    But I would urge people to look at the number of non-combat deaths from a wider lens. For example, there are 15 years between 1980 and 2002 with no deaths attributed to "hostile action" and some of these  years have over 2000 total deaths. For example, in 2002 there were:

    • Total Deaths 1007
    • Accident         538
    • Hostile             17
    • Homicide         46
    • Illness            178
    • Pending            78
    • Self-inflicted     78
    • Terrorist         130

    Accident alone accounts for about half of all active duty deaths each year. Frankly, I find this more horrifying than unreported/misclassified deaths in a combat zone. One Marine told me that a massive training at Parris Island had to be cancelled after the first day because so many Marines had gotten killed on the first day. In a training exercise.

    "I still think politics is about who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing." -Molly Ivins

    by hono lulu on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 03:34:15 PM PST

  •  man, they should have never shown (none)
    "rebel without a cause" to those kids.

    i'm an agnostic, i'd be an atheist if it weren't for mozart

    by rasbobbo on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 03:40:09 PM PST

  •  hope I am not too late to post here on something (none)
    remember last week when the marines had to return their purple hearts?  Well, as far as I am concerned they should keep them.  There got injured in a war zone and that makes every injury a ligit one, in my book and I am an old vetetan.  So there you go Rummy, take that in your pipe and smoke it!!!!
  •  One other possibility.. (none)
    (besides the possibility that Humvee = Ford Pinto)-- suicide.
  •  Don't miss the car lot for the cars (none)
    Look, the focus should be on deaths. Period. In a war zone, where vehicles are targeted and most of the combat and patrolling is done at night, in all types of terrain and substandard roads, no lights, there are no "accidents." These are combat related deaths, with very few exceptions.

    If you want to know where deaths have been hidden, it is on contractors i.e. former military performing military tasks. How many contractors were killed when the bomb exploded in the mess tent?

    The other mind-blowing numbers that are almost always overlooked are injuries and illnesses. These are 10 times the deaths, and many, many are life altering.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:13:22 PM PST

  •  I saw a report about this (none)
    on tv a few weeks ago. It was about how the Pentagon was taking war deaths and redefining them as vehicle accidents.  Its the worst kind of hypocracy.

    This saves money. Can you believe these fuks?  It SAVES MONEY!!

    Lifes too short when youre this good.

    by ksecus on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 06:21:31 PM PST

    •  ksecus!!! (none)
      What! You write: "I saw a report about this on tv a few weeks ago. It was about how the Pentagon was taking war deaths and redefining them as vehicle accidents." This is central to the concern of this diary. Please see if you can recall more about the programme and its contents.
  •  Absolutely worth researching.... (none)
    Go for it!

    "Think for yourselves, and allow others the privilege of doing the same." - Voltaire, "Essay on Tolerance"

    by The Peanut Gallery on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:46:27 PM PST

  •  A different approach? (none)
    I was thinking that maybe it would be better not to question the military's methods of classifying deaths.  Regardless of how much we complain, there will always be a way to fudge combat fatalities as non-combat accidents.  So let them.  

    Instead, let's see if we can get regular fatality reports that contain ALL deaths, regardless of cause, and ALL injuries, regardless of cause.  I want to be able to turn on MSNBC and see a monthly fatalities table with all the fatalities, and I don't care how they're all classified.  If the military want's to report that all 69 fatalities in a month resulted from GIs accidently falling into village wells in the desert, let them.  The beauty is that if all the fatalities are reported, Americans will see the true cost of the war, because it's commonly known that without the war, none of these fatalities would have occurred.

    "You beat on this prick enough, he'll tell ya he started the Chicago fire - that don't necessarily make it so!" -Nice Guy Eddie, Reservoir Dogs

    by Subterranean on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:53:23 PM PST

  •  I think they can be explained. (none)
    Eight times as high as in the US seems reasonable. Not wearing seatbelts in war, because of bulky gear, or wanting to be able to jump out fast seems credible.  
    This ABC site lists many non-combat vehicle accidents, all occuring within a short span of time. I don't trust BushCo, but the reports seem real.
    •   thoreau247365 (none)
      Thanks for your comments and links. The explanation for why the casualty rate is so high is reasonable in explaining part of it.

      I cannot, however, feel comfortable with the acceptance that "Eight times as high as in the US seems reasonable". It is a heck of a lot of deaths from non-hostile action. We'll see as we do more work and contact some of the experts that people on the thread have suggested.

  •  Some Usual Things About Deaths (none)
    1. Deaths are not counted in the "official" totals unless the person is dead at the scene, if moved and then dies....not counted.  I'm told by a Vietnam vet that it was a common occurance then too.  Common doesn't make it right.

    2. Some "non-combat" related deaths are suicides.  One of my Marine's concerns after he saw more than one suicide and helped prevent another, hopefully more than just a temporary solution.

    3. Also counted among the "non-combat" deaths are those strange "died in sleep" incidents and blood clots that were thought by some to be related to vaccines and/or medications given to troops. There was a rash of these during my Marine's first tour in Iraq, I haven't read anything written about them since.  

    Contacted Senators Lugar(IN-R), Bayh(IN-D) and Levin(MI-D) about all 3 points.  Lugar's response was he would look into them, as it was the first he had heard of these things.  Bayh's response....nothing not even a form letter (re-sent 3 times with still no response).  Levin said he shared concern and sent two updates including one that said more mental health professionals were being sent to Iraq to address 2).

    Across the River

    by Marines Girl on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 03:24:07 AM PST

  •  New Link (none)
    Hey Welshman, here's a Salon article that discusses the spate of recent accidental deaths in Iraq. Thought you would find it interesting.
  •  This article came out today (none)
    U.S. troops in Iraq have suffered a rash of fatal vehicle accidents and other non-combat deaths in recent weeks, even as the number killed in insurgent attacks has declined.

    Act as if it were impossible to fail. - Dorothea Brande

    by crkrjx on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 11:04:59 AM PST

    •  local story (none)
      A Tucson paper reports a contract has been awarded to a local company by the military to address the high rate of comabat theater accidents AND an increase in traffic fatalities among vets returning home.

      Arizona Daily Star

      George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

      by mbryan on Mon Feb 21, 2005 at 05:49:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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