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Estimates: Iraqi Gulf War Casualties

Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2000 16:14:55 +0100
From: Leila Kais-Heinrich <>
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.06 [de] (Win95; I)

On 2 January 2000 you wrote:

>Does anybody have precise statistics referring to the dead, wounded, and
lost >on all sides (Kuweitis, Iraqis, and soldiers of the international
alliance) during >the Gulf war?

For a low estimate on the number of Iraqi casutalties (both fatal and
non-fatal) during the Gulf War:

Heidenrich, John G., "The Gulf War: How Many Iraqis Died?", Foreign Policy
(90, Spring 1993)

Below, two articles [the first from "Jane's Defence Weekly" and the second
from "The Vancouver Sun"] summarize Heidenrich's article.

Nathaniel Hurd

The Center for Global Analysis (CGA)
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel.: 617-492-4570
Fax: 617-354-2832

Copyright 1993 Jane's Information Group Limited, 
All Rights Reserved   
Jane's Defence Weekly 

March 13, 1993 
SECTION: Vol. 19; No. 11; Pg. 5 
LENGTH: 429 words 
HEADLINE: Report puts Iraqi dead at 1500 

Iraqi combat deaths during the Gulf conflict were possibly as low as 1500,
far below the widely accepted 100 000 figure, a former US Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst reports. 

In an forthcoming article in the monthly journal Foreign Policy, John
Heidenrich says fewer Iraqis fought in the theatre of operations than
originally thought. Military prudence dictated that the Pentagon estimate
the highest number; therefore its minimum estimate was 500 000 troops,
logical if all Iraqi units were full strength. 

Heidenrich believes the number before hostilities was under 400 000, based
on Iraqi prisoner reports of units deployed at only 50-75 per cent troop
strength. This number fell rapidly with the desertion of several tens of
thousands of Iraqis once Coalition air strikes started. Perhaps only 200
000-300 000 troops were left to fight. 

Based on Iraqi prisoner statements, Heidenrich contends that Coalition
aerial bombardment produced an overall casualty rate of only two or even
one per cent, because "its main purpose was to destroy Iraqi equipment",
not dug-in soldiers. 

At the 300 000 level, with 1-2 per cent casualties and using the standard
three-wounded-to-one-dead ratio, Heidenrich estimates the total at 750-1500
dead and 2250-4500 wounded from the air campaign. In the ground war,
similar formulas give "a few hundred" to an absolute maximum of 6500 dead,
and an absolute maximum of 19 500 wounded. The upper figures would be if
all vehicles hit had full crews. 

Heidenrich points out that of the 71 000 Iraqi soldiers taken prisoner,
only around 2000 were wounded. In addition, US forces buried only 577
Iraqis. His estimate of civilian deaths is less than 100. In May 1991, the
DIA estimated 100 000 Iraqis killed in action, 300 000 wounded, and 150 000
desertions. It added that the data had an error factor of "50 per cent or

Heidenrich says that the Pentagon's reluctance to publish more definitive
casualty figures was due to "quite simply, fear. Senior officials fear that
any estimate will provide ammunition to Pentagon critics. A high estimate
could bring charges of barbarism. A low one might bring accusations of a
coverup. And any estimate could evoke unwanted (and unfair) parallels
between (the GulfWar) and the body count mentality of Vietnam." 

US casualties were low. Despite a pre-war prediction by the Center for
Defense Information of 10 000 dead and 35 000 wounded, the total was 148
combat dead and 467 wounded. Of those, 35 deaths and 72 injuries were from
'friendly fire'. 


LOAD-DATE: December 11, 1994 


Copyright 1993 Pacific Press Ltd.   
The Vancouver Sun 
March 11, 1993, Thursday, 1* EDITION 

LENGTH: 221 words 
HEADLINE: War victims exaggerated, analyst says 
   As few as 1,500 Iraqi soldiers may have been killed by allied forces in
the Persian Gulf War - a tenth of the previous lowest estimate - according
to a former analyst in the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, John Heidenrich. 

The most conservative estimate of Iraqi battlefield casualties from allied
air and ground action had been 15,000 but most range from 25,000 to
100,000. Fewer casualties could help to explain the astonishing speed of
Iraq's military recovery after the war. 

According to a former British chief of defence staff, Sir David Craig, the
allies stopped their advance before achieving their objective of destroying
President Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard partly because they feared
accusations of "butchery." 

It has always been a mystery what happened to hundreds of thousands of
Iraqi soldiers thought to have been in the Kuwait theatre of operations
south of the Euphrates. A senior British officer said after the war that he
assumed thousands of dead lay "in collapsed trenches." 

Based on interception of signals from more than 40 divisions, allied
intelligence had to assume that there were more than 600,000 Iraqi troops
when the allied air bombardment began on Jan. 17, 1991. It is now widely
accepted that those divisions were at between 50 and 75 per cent strength,
at most. 


LOAD-DATE: March 12, 1993 

NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. 

The Center for Global Analysis (CGA)
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel.: 617-492-4570
Fax: 617-354-2832
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