While looking at the “Reaching out” photo this week and thinking of topics I could potentially write on, I began to notice how badly wounded the soldiers in the photo really were. After noticing this I started to wonder about the differences in the causes of casualties during the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so for my blog post this week, I want to compare the leading cause of casualties during the Vietnam War to the leading cause of casualties during the war in Iraq. During the Vietnam War, the leading cause of casualties was still, by a large majority, the result of small arms fire. The total number of casualties caused by small arms fire was 18,518, while the total number of casualties numbered 58,193, making small arms fire responsible for roughly 32% of the casualties during the war. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the leading cause of casualties has been IEDs, which have been the cause of 2,483 casualties out of a total number of 6,472. This makes IEDs responsible for about 38% of the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think these numbers are fairly significant because it shows a difference in the way the wars have been fought. None of these wars would be considered conventional conflicts, but I think that people may be overemphasizing the similarities between them. Since the statistics I’ve found show that the majority of deaths in Vietnam were from small arms fire, that tells me that Vietnam was more of a conventional war than Iraq and Afghanistan simply because the soldiers were being shot at by an enemy. In Iraq and Afghanistan the soldiers are mostly being attacked by IEDs when the enemy is not present. This is not to say that the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are not experiencing combat, but rather that the enemy they are fighting is doing their best to avoid engaging in combat and choosing to set off IEDs instead. I don’t think that was the situation in the case of Vietnam. While the Viet Cong were known for setting traps and using IEDs, they still predominantly engaged American soldiers with small arms fire, which implies a more conventional form of engagement.