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  Chapter Eleven:

  Government Spending
  Government Employees
  Federal Entitlements
  Federal Judiciary
  Military Personnel
  Blacks in the Military
  Women in the Military
  War Deaths
  Patriotic Attitudes



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War Deaths

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In the five major conflicts in which the United States engaged during the century, American losses were highest in World War II.
A total of 440,000 U.S. military personnel were killed in action in the wars of the twentieth century, two-thirds of them during World War II. The battle death rate ranged from 3.1 percent of the Marines in World War I to 0.006 percent of naval personnel in the Persian Gulf War. In all five conflicts—World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the Persian Gulf War—Marines and Army ground units bore the brunt of the losses. But none of the services approached the 6.1 percent rate of battle deaths recorded by the Union forces in the Civil War. 

These tragic losses were much lighter in number than those borne by our allies and adversaries. Worldwide, more than 100 million soldiers and civilians were killed in the wars of the twentieth century. Besides the human costs, most of the nations involved in these wars suffered vast physical destruction. Because of its geographic location, the United States was exempt from the civilian casualties, property damage, and most of the domestic disruption suffered by other nations. 

Aside from the risks of combat, wartime military service became progressively less hazardous during the century. In every war the United States fought before this century, deaths of military personnel from disease and accidents greatly outnumbered battle deaths. As late as World War I, nonbattle deaths were somewhat more numerous than battle deaths, but thereafter the balance shifted. In the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, for example, battle deaths outnumbered nonbattle deaths by almost 5 to 1. 

Battle death rates declined because of America’s increasing technological advantage in military equipment and improved treatment of battle wounds. U.S. weapons, vehicles, and defensive measures were superior to those of most of its adversaries. American casualties were quickly evacuated to hospitals, saving thousands of lives.

Chapter 11 chart 8

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series Y 857, Y 859, Y 860, Y 879, and Y 880; WA 1998, page 149.


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