Q&A Friday #38: Why Don’t We Have Enemy Casualty Numbers?

Question: “Is it listed ANYWHERE how many enemy casualties our troops have caused? I hear the death toll of OUR troops all the time, I’d very much like to see the ratio between them and us.” — daytrip

Answer: As Paul T. mentioned in the comments section, the Brookings Institution has some numbers, but they don’t look too much more than “guesstimates” that may or may not be wildly off in either direction.

The reason we don’t have better numbers on enemy casualties is twofold.

First of all, it’s just extremely difficult to estimate. Oftentimes, there’s just no way for soldiers to definitely say how many people they killed in a firefight and since you have enemies who are often dressed as civilians, blown to bits, covered with rubble, who crawl off to die, who are carried off, who were injured, but not killed, etc., etc., it’s often not really possible to get an accurate count even after the fact.

Secondly, since the mainstream media is so hostile to the troops, the military is just extremely reluctant to try to count scalps when they know they will get it wrong a lot. That’s because every time they made a mistake, the media would accuse them of lying and attempting to deliberately inflate the enemy body count.

Since that is the case, the military is better off avoiding body counts.

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