Iraq War 10 years later: 189,000 dead, 32,000 U.S. troops wounded

• Longterm U.S. costs expected to exceed $6 trillion

By Brandon Reid
Assistant Editor

Saddam Hussein is dead, and so are an estimated 189,000 other people, on the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.

When former President George W. Bush launched the “shock and awe” of Operation Iraqi Freedom March 19, 2003, he launched the United States into an extended military presence that lasted nearly nine years.

Although “free” elections have been held and a “democratically-elected” government put in place, Iraq — marred by civil unrest between warring Shiites and Sunnis — is still far from the stable nation the Bush administration originally promised. Even on the 10-year anniversary of the start of the war, March 19, 48 people were killed in Iraq following a series of 17 car bombs, seven roadside bombs and two shootings.

According to Iraq Body Count, a U.K.-based group that tracks war deaths, the war “remains entrenched and pervasive, with a clear beginning but no foreseeable end, and very much a part of the present in Iraq. In major regions of the country, armed violence continues to exact a remorseless toll on human life, young and old, male and female, across society.”

The cost of the war has far exceeded initial estimates prior to the war that figured the total cost to be approximately $100 billion for a two-year involvement. According to nonpartisan congressional researchers, the war has cost at least $806 billion, which does not take into account related expenses, such as coming decades of veteran benefits and other costs associated with medical treatment and job retaining for wounded soldiers.

Brown University’s “Costs of War” project estimates the total costs of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to be at least $3.2-$4 trillion. March 14, the “Costs of War” project updated its estimated cost of the Iraq War, saying the war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion, with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades when interest is included.

Coalition deaths total more than 4,700, with the United States sustaining more than 4,480 deaths through the Iraq War’s official end Dec. 15, 2011. More than 32,000 other U.S. troops were wounded in Iraq, while more than 134,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during the course of the official war.

Bush launched the Iraq War in the aftermath of 9/11, basing his case on Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). However, no WMDs were ever found. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 296-133 and the U.S. Senate voted 77-23 to authorize the use of force against Iraq in October 2002.

A March 2003 Pew Research Center poll showed 72 percent of U.S. adults supported the invasion of Iraq. However, by February 2008, a Pew Research Center poll showed 58 percent of U.S. adults believed the invasion was wrong.

May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush became the first sitting president to make a landing on a fixed-wing aircraft on an aircraft carrier when he arrived at the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of San Diego. While wearing his flight suit, the president posed for photographs with pilots and members of the ship’s crew. A few hours later, standing in front of a large banner reading “Mission Accomplished,” Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq. However, as history would show, official combat operations in Iraq would last another eight years.

The U.S. retains an embassy in Baghdad, with about 17,000 personnel; consulates in Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk, which each have a staff of about 1,000; and between 4,000 to 5,000 defense contractors. About 160 embassy guards guard the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Posted March 19, 2013

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