FACT CHECK: Viral Post Misstates American Casualties In Major Conflicts

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows the number of American casualties in some major military conflicts.

“The price of freedom,” reads part of the post.

Verdict: False

The image only counts individuals killed in combat. Data from the Department of Defense (DOD) shows casualties – killed and wounded – for the conflicts were much higher.

Fact Check:

The image, shared by the Prepare to Take America Back page, claims to show the number of American casualties suffered in some major U.S. conflicts: the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom.

However, it appears to only count those killed in combat as casualties, despite the term “casualty” having a broader definition. (RELATED: Did The Military Get Its Biggest Pay Raise In Almost 10 Years?)

“Casualties when used in military terms always means killed and wounded,” Yale University history professor Mark Peterson told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “The wounded in most cases can no longer fight, so are just as much a loss to the military effort as the killed. And the wounded usually bring long term social costs of care for and loss of productivity from the disabled.”

The DOD defines a casualty as “any person who is lost to the organization by having been declared dead, duty status – whereabouts unknown, missing, ill, or injured.” Merriam-Webster offers a similar definition for the term.

While the post’s numbers do match up with the number of “battle deaths” listed for each conflict on a Department of Veteran Affairs fact sheet, they only represent a fraction of the total casualties actually suffered. According to historical data from the DOD’s Defense Casualty Analysis System, here are accurate casualty figures – deaths and wounded in action – for each conflict:

It is important to note that these figures do not include ill service members who would be considered casualties under the DOD’s definition, so it’s possible that the casualty figures for each conflict may actually be higher. (RELATED: Did Kamala Harris Say, ‘Our Military Are Soulless Cowards’?)

The image does not include other major conflicts, such as the Civil War, Mexican-American War and Spanish-American War.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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