A number of metrics have been developed to describe the severity of combat casualties. The interpretation of combat casualty statistics can be difficult because there are different ways of combining the data.



(1) wounded in action (WIA)

(2) killed in action (KIA) = deaths before reaching a medical treatment facility (MTF)

(3) died of wounds (DOW) = death after reaching a MTF = admitted or hospitalized but died

(4) admitted or hospitalized and survived

(5) return to duty within 72 hours (RTD) = minor wounds

(6) total number of combatants


total number of casualties =

= (number killed in action) + (number wounded in action)


number wounded in action =

= (return to duty in 72 hours) + (admitted or hospitalized and survived) + (admitted or hospitalized and died of wounds)


case fatality rate = CFR =

= ((number killed in action) + (number died of wounds)) / ((number killed in action) + (number wounded in action)) * 100%


percent killed in action =

= (deaths before reaching MTF) / (all combat casualties) * 100%


percent died of wounds =

= (deaths after reaching MTF) / (total number of casualties admitted or hospitalized) *100%



• The percent KIA and percent DOW cannot be combined to give the case fatality rate since the denominators are different.

• The return to duty (RTD) may be subtracted from all combat casualties to limit the analysis to significant injuries.

• Missing in action are not included in the statistics but are recorded separately.

• A person who dies of wounds months or years later may be hard to classify.



• A high percentage of soldiers killed in action may reflect lethal conflict or poor evacuation of the wounded.

• A high percent of soldiers who die of wounds may reflect more serious wounds or poor medical services.



• As indicated in Exhibit 1-1, page 15, Bellamy (1995) different rates can be generated depending on which data is included or excluded.


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