Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans
North Texas Chapter

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America At War......

Below are listed the wars involving the United States and either themselves or a foreign power. They are listed in historically Chronological order. As you can see from the listing below, freedom and democracy are not free, and never have been.

The Revolutionary War

U.S. Military Deaths: 4,435

U.S. Wounded: 6,188

Cost: 101 Million in 1790 Dollars

The 4,435 war deaths represent nearly 0.2% of the population of the country at that time. While the U.S. at the time did not have a National Gross Product (GPD) in 1775, we can get a sense of the war's enormous economic cost by extrapolating from the GPD in 1790 when the nations entire wealth totaled only 189 million.

Barbary Wars, 1801-1805 and 1815

U.S. Military Deaths: 35

U.S. Wounded: 64

In 1795, the United States paid almost 1 million to ransom 115 sailors. Thomas Jefferson bitterly opposed this policy and overturned it as U.S. President, declaring, "It will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them.

War of 1812, 1812-1815

U.S. Military Deaths: 2,260

U.S. Wounded: 286,

Total Serving: 286,730

Costs: $90 million (2.2 percent of GDP in peak year)

After defeating the British Empire less than 30 years earlier, the young republic was soundly swatted back into place in 1812. U.S. forces were rounted in Canada, U.S. vessels seized, U.S. ports blockaded, and the Capitol and White House set ablaze. Congress declared war on Britain in June 1812.

U.S. Indian Wars, 1813-1838 and 1866-1890

U.S. Military Deaths: 1,000

Total Serving: 106,000

We know that some 4,000 Cherokee died during their forced westward migration, known as the "Trail of Tears" in 1838. But estimates vary widely about the number of Native Americans who died in the frontier wars.

U.S. and Mexican War, 1846-1848

U.S. Military Deaths: 13,283 (1,733 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded: 4,182

Costs: $71 million (1.4 percent of the GDP in peak year)

To put pressure on Mexico, President James Polk sent General Zackary Taylor to disputed an area on the Rio Grande where the U.S. defined the border and the Nueces River where Mexico define it. To Mexican troops this was an act of aggresion, and they attacked Taylor's forces. Congress declared war on Mexico in May 1846, after only a few hours of debate.

U.S. Civil War, 1861-1865

Union Military Deaths: 364,511 (140,414 battle deaths)

Union Wounded: 281,821

Confederate Military Deaths: 133,821

Union Costs $1.8 billion (11.3 percent of the GDP in peak year).

Total Serving: (2,213,363 (Union) 1,082,119 (Confederate)

Spanish-American War, 1898

U.S. Military Deaths: 2,446 (385 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded: 1,662

Cost: $238 million (1.1% of GDP in peak year).

Total Serving: 306,760

Phillipine War, 1899-1901

U.S. Military Deaths: 4,200

U.S. Wounded: 2,800

Total Serving: l20,000

Not unlike the Iraq War a centuary later, the post war occupation of the Phillipines lead to an insurgency that proved far bloodier than the initial conflict.

Mexican War, 1914-1919

U.S. Military Deaths: 21

U.S. Wounded: 35

U.S. Forces Deployed: 6,000

Supporting anti-government revolutionaries inside Mexico, President Woodrow Wilson ordered U.S. Troops to seize the port of Veracruz and prevent shipment of German arms to the Mexican government. The government was ousted, just as Wilson wanted. But when the new government proved too independent for Wilson, he began supporting forces under the command of Pancho Villa. When Wilson recognized the new government, the spurned Villa launched raids into the U.S., killing dozens of American civilians. Wilson then ordered General John Pershing to lead an expedition into Mexico to kill or capture Villa, but events in Europe soon trumpted all other matters of foreign policy.

World War I, 1917-1918

U.S. Military Deaths: 116,516 (53,402 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded: 204,002

Total Serving: 4.73 million

Cost: $20 billion (13.6% of GDP in peak year).

Congress declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1917, after Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare and tried to lure Mexico into the war against the United States.

World War II, 1941-1945

U.S. Military Deaths: 405,399 (291,557 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded: 670,846

Total Serving: 16.11 million

Cost: 296 billion, the equivilent of $4.3 trillion today (36% of GDP in peak year)

In 1941, Congress declared war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and then on Germany and Italy after their declaration of war on the United Satates. In 1942, Congress declared war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania after they declared war on the United States.

Cold War, 1947-1991

Total Serving: 35 million

Cost: $4.65 trillion (14.2% of GDP in peak spending year, 1953).

Berlin Airlift, 1948-1949

U.S. Military Deaths: 31

Peak U.S. troop level: 32,900

Cost: $224 million (2.2 billion today)

Blending the principles of strategic bombing with the efficiency of a Detrot assembly line, Lt. General Curtis LeMay crafted an air compaign unlike any in historyt. From June 1948 to September 1949, Allied pilots flew 277,00 missions and delivered 2.3 million tons of supplies to Berlin. About 75 percent of those missions were flown by Americans.

Korean War, 1950-1953

U.S. Military Deaths: 36,574 (33,739 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded: 103,284

Total Serving in theater: 1,789,000

Cost: $30 billion (4.2% of GDP in peak year)

The War's economic cost as a percentage of GDP and battle deaths as a percentage of total military deaths underscore why the New York Times called Korea "World War 2.5".

Vietnam War, 1965-1975

U.S. Military Deaths: 58,220 (47,434 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded & Hospitalized: 153,303

Cost: $111 billion (2.3% of GDP in peak year)

Congress authorized President Lyndon Johnson to use "all necessary measures" against North Vietnam in 1964, after U.S. warships came under apparent attack in the Gulf of Tomkin. When Johnson asked military leaders what they needed to win, the answer was 7 years and 700,000 to one million troops and an unfettered air campaign. Instead Johnson and President Richard Nixon launched a combined 16 bombing pauses and 72 peace initiatives, thus undercutting battlefield momentum.

Lebanon, 1982-1984

U.S. Military Deaths: 265

U.S. Wounder: 177

Total deployed ashore: 1,800

President Ronald Reagan deployed 1,200 Marines to Lebanon as part of congressionally authorized multinational peacekeeping force. Also deployed were elements of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, including the USS New Jersey, which unloaded it's sixteen inch guns during the campaign, and the carriers Independence and John F. Kennedy, which launched air strikes into the war zone. On October 23rd, a truck loaded with explosives rammed into the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Americans.

Grenada, 1983

U.S. Military Deaths: 19 (18 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded: 116

Total deployed: 5,000

President Reagan deployed U.S. forces to Grenada to rescue U.S. citizens, reverse a Cuban-backed coup and restore order. U.S. forces discovered 800 Cuban advisors and enough weaponry to arm 10,000 troops.

Persian Gulf, 1987-1988

As the Iran-Iraq war spilled into the Persian Gulf, the two beligerents began attacking commercial shipping. Iranian fighters strafed Kuwait tankers. Iran boarded a U.S. civilian ship. An Iraqi warplane attacked the USS Stark, killing 37 sailors. To protect Kuwaiti vessels from the malestrom, the United States began reflagging and escourting Kuwaiti ships. In April 1988, USS Samuel B. Roberts struck and Iranian mine northeast of Qatar. The attack prompted President Reagan to order Operation Praying Mantis. "By the end of the operation. U.S. air and surface units had sunk or severly damaged half of Iran's opertional fleet", a Navy report details.

Panama 1989-1990

U.S. Military Deaths: 23

U.S. Wounded: 322

Total deployed: 26,000

In December 1989, President George H.W. Bush dispatched U.S. troops to protect American citizens, restore Panama's democratically elected government and apprehended General Manuel Noriega, who had been involved in drug trafficing, weapons smuggling, and a campaign of violence against his political oppoonents.

Gulf War, 1990-1991

U.S. Military Deaths: 382 (147 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded: 467

Total serving in theater: 694,550

Cost: $61 billion*

The United States led a large international coalition to defend Saudi Arabia from attack (Desert Shield) and eject Saddam Hussein's military from Kuwait (Desert Storm). Congress passed an authorization for use of military force (AUMF). * An asterisk is attached to the cost of the war because it was largely underwritten by international partners.

Iraqi Kurdistam, 1991

U.S. Military Deaths: 5

Peak U.S. troop level: 12,316

When Saddam Hussein moved against Kurdish minorities at the end of the first Gulf War, President Bush dispatched U.S. forces to mount a massive humanitarian operation in northern Iraq. U.S. forces rescued 400,000 Kurds from starvation. The five American deaths came in the initial phase of Operation Provide Comfort and were caused by land mines, weapons misfires, and transport accidents. The total-serving number is limited to the initial months of Operation Provide Comfort. Follow on operations continued in Iraqi Kurdistan for years. The GAO (Government Accounting Office) reported $320.5 million spent on Operation Provide Comfort in 1991. As late as 1996, Congress was still appropriating $143 million for Operation Provide Comfort. No-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq were and outgrowth of Operation Provide Comfort. Maintaining these protective umbrella's - and the related sanctions - and inspections regime - cost $13 billion annually through 2002.

Somalia, 1992-1994

U.S. Military Deaths: 43

Peak troop level: 28,000

Cost: $2.22 billion (fiscal 1992-fiscal 1995)

Acting on U.N. resolution, President Bush dispatched 28,000 troops to Somalia in the closing hours of his presidency to protect food shipments from tribal warfare and looting. But in 1993, the United Nations explanded the limited humanitarian mission into an ambitious nationn building effort. When Somali clans ambushed U.N. peacekeepers, President Bill Clinton sent hundreds of U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force operators into Mogadishu to apprehend clan leaders leading to the bloody "Black Hawk Down" episode and triggering the beginning of the end of America's mercy mission in Somali.

Haiti, 1994-1996

U.S. Military Deaths: 4 (all non-hostile)

U.S. troops deployed: 16,253 (plus 11,773 in "joint-operations area")

Cost: $2 billion

President Clinton dispatched troops to Haiti to restore democratically elected president to office and stabilize the troubled country. This was nothing new as U.S. forces intervened 16 times in Haiti between 1900 and 1913, before a lengthy occupation from 1915 to 1934. President George W. Bush sent troops into Haiti in 2004 as did Preident Obama in 2010.


Total serving: 100,000

Cost: $14.83 billion (fiscal 1992-fiscal 2004)

Between 1992 and 1995, the war in Yugoslavia claimed 250,000 people. It wasn't until a U.S. led air armada was allowed to take the offensive against Serbian militiamen in late 1995 Serbian strong man Slobadan Melosevic finally came to the peace table. In December 1995, President Clinton ordered the deployment of 25,000 troops to Bosnia as part of NATO's follow on peacekeeping operation. By the latter half of 2003. the United States had sustained only one hostile fatality, CRS reports. The last U.S. troops withdrew in December 2004.

Global War on Terrorism/

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/

Operation Freedom's Sentinel/

Operation Resolute Support, 2001-Present

U.S. Military Deaths and DOD Civilian Deaths: 2,355 as of March 2015 (1,845 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded: 20,067

American/friendly foreign nationals killed on September 11, 2001: 2,976

Total serving: 2.5 million+

As CRS details, the Bush and Obama adminstrations have reported "U.S. anti-terror related activities" in Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Phillipines, Georgia, Yemen, Iraq, Djibouti, and Somalia. DOD reports that OEF casualties have occurred in Jordan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Seychelles, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Guantonamo Bay (Cuba). This explains the differing casualty numbers in what might be called "OEF-global" and "OEF Afganhistan". OEF officially gave way to Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan in late 2014. Congress passed an AUMF in September 2001. According to the 9/11 Commission "Calling the struggle a war accurately describes the use of American and allied armed forces to find and destroy terrorist groups and thier allies in the field".

Kosovo, 1999-Present

U.S. troops deployed during hositilites: 31, 600

Cost: $9.56 billion

When Slobodan Melosivic tried to repeat in Kosovo what he had perpetuated in Bosnia, NATO launched a 78-day air compaign targeting his army and government. Melosivic's regime was mortally wounded, and 850,000 Kosavar refugees returned home. Two U.S. pilots were killed when their helicopter crashed in Albania. In addition, during the first year of the peacekeeping mission, three U.S. troops died in accidental deaths and 24 were injured. About 660 U.S. troops remain in Kosovo down from 7,000 in 1999.

Afghanistan, 2001-Present

U.S. Military Deaths: 2,215 as of March 2015 (1,832 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounded: 20,026

Total serving: 831,576 (as of May 2014)

Cost: $825.7 billion (0.7 percent of GDP in peak year)

The war in Afghanistan began October 7, 2001. Within weeks U.S. forces, in conjunction with an indigenous alliance of anit-Taliban militia, toppled the Taliban regime. Then U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan began to increase: 1,300 in 2001, 10,000 in 2003, 20,000 in 2006, and hitting a wartime high of 100,000 in 2010. CBO estimates that an additional $1 trillion will be appropriated from 2015 to 2024 "for military operations and diplomatic activities in Afhanistan and other possible overseas contingency operations".

Iraqi/Operation Iraqi Freedom/

Operation New Dawn, 2003-2011/

U.S. Military Deaths and DOD Civilian Deaths: 4,491 (3,529 battle deaths)

U.S. Wounder: 32,244

Total serving: 1.5 million+

Cost: $820 billion (1 percent of GDP in peak year)

Congress authorized military action against Iraq in October 2002, citing "Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups and "development of weapons of mass destruction". Saddam Hussein's army and regime were quickly routed, but Iraq's postwar proved costly. And the costs continue to mount.

Operation Inherent Resolve, 2014-Present

U.S. Military Deaths: 3 (as of March 2015

Cost: $8.4 million per day

The earlier stated casualty numbers and economic figures from the Iraq war do not enfold the U.S. military campaign in Iraq and Syria targeting the Islamic State. With military commanders expecting the operation to last no more than three years, Iraq promises to dominate the balance of Obama's presidency, just as it did the previous three administrations. This August will mark 25 years that the United States has been wrestling with Iraq

This Article was taken directly from the American Legion Magazine, May 2015. All rights reserved by the American Legion.