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December 13, 2004
In The Rear With The Gear

If you were running a war, say, and you had some highly trained soldiers and some who only train one weekend a month, which ones would you send on your most important missions? How about on your most dangerous missions, which are not necessarily the same?

WASHINGTON -- In a reversal of trends from past wars, part-time soldiers in the Army National Guard are about one-third more likely to be killed in Iraq than full-time active-duty soldiers serving there, a USA TODAY analysis of Pentagon statistics shows.

According to figures furnished by the military branches, the active Army has sent about 250,000 soldiers to Iraq, and 622 have been killed. That works out to one death for every 402 soldiers who have deployed. About 37,000 Army Guard soldiers have been sent to Iraq since the war began and 140 have died there -- one fatality for every 264 soldiers who have served, or about a 35% higher death rate.

There are several reasons for the greater death rates among so-called part-time soldiers, who generally drill one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer when there's no war. The Pentagon has called up thousands of part-time troops for tours of a year or more in Iraq. Some of the most dangerous missions, including driving convoys and guarding bases and other facilities, frequently are assigned to Guard and reserve troops.

USA Today

What's most interesting to me about this data is that it's a "reversal of trends from past wars."


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