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Temporary grave of an American machine-gunner during the Battle of Normandy.

A casualty is a person who is the victim of an accident, injury, or trauma. The word casualties is most often used by the news media to describe deaths and injuries resulting from wars or disasters. Casualties is sometimes misunderstood to mean fatalities, but non-fatal injuries are also casualties.

In military usage, casualties usually refer to combatants who have been rendered combat-ineffective, or all persons lost to active military service, which comprises those killed in action, killed by disease, disabled by physical injuries, disabled by psychological trauma, captured, deserted, and missing, but does not include injuries which do not prevent a person from fighting.

Civilian casualties is a military term describing civilian or non-combatant persons killed or injured by military action. The sum of casualties, whether military personnel or civilians, is known as the casualty count. Civilian prisoners of war are also casualties of war, but are counted separately from those injured or killed.

In combat before World War II, deaths by disease usually outnumbered deaths in combat.

In the past, 20-30% of those wounded in combat died, about 1 in 4. Due to modern medicine and armor, the ratio has decreased to around 1 in 9.

References

  • Casualty - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary [1].

Further reading

  • America's Wars: U.S. Casualties and Veterans [2]. Infoplease.
  • Online text [3]: War Casualties (1931), by Albert G. Love, Lt. Colonel, Medical Corps, U.S.A.. Medical Field Service School, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. The Army Medical Bulletin Number 24.
  • Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century [4].
  • Statistical Summary: America's Major Wars [5]. U.S. Civil War Center.
  • The world's worst massacres [6]. By Greg Brecht. Fall, 1987. Whole Earth Review.
  • Twentieth Century Atlas - Death Tolls [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15].
  • Gifford, Brian. “Combat Casualties and Race: What Can We Learn from the 2003-2004 Iraq Conflict?” [16]. Armed Forces & Society, Jan 2005; vol. 31: pp. 201-225.
  • Kummel, Gerhard and Nina Leonhard“Casualties and Civil-Military Relations: The German Polity between Learning and Indifference.” [17].Armed Forces & Society, Jul 2005; vol. 31: pp. 513-535.
  • Smith, Hugh. “What Costs Will Democracies Bear? A Review of Popular Theories of Casualty Aversion.” [18]. Armed Forces & Society, Jul 2005; vol. 31: pp. 487-512
  • Van Der Meulen, Jan and Joseph Soeters.“Considering Casualties: Risk and Loss during Peacekeeping and Warmaking.” [19]. Armed Forces & Society, Jul 2005; vol. 31: pp. 483-486.
  • Bennett, Stephen Earl and Richard S. Flickinger. “Americans’ Knowledge of U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq, April 2004 to April 2008.” [20]. Armed Forces & Society, Apr 2009; vol. 35: pp. 587-604.
  • Varoglu, A. Kadir and Adnan Bicaksiz“Volunteering for Risk: The Culture of the Turkish Armed Forces.” [21]. Armed Forces & Society, Jul 2005; vol. 31: pp. 583-598
  • Ben-Ari, Eyal. “Epilogue: A ‘Good’ Military Death.” [22]. Armed Forces & Society, Jul 2005; vol. 31: pp. 651-664
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