Attrition: October 16, 2003


In two years of operations, 71 Special Operations troops have been killed in combat or accidents. Another several hundred have been wounded and injured. Only about 10,000 Special Operations troops have been in combat, and this includes some support troops, and crewmen on Special Operations helicopters and aircraft. So the annual loss rate from the deaths and injuries are not quite one percent a year. But it takes 2-3 years to replace losses, and recruiting and training efforts have been increased. Even in peacetime, there would be close to ten percent losses a year from retirement, resignations and injuries. So the wartime losses are not a major strain. But replacing the additional losses also makes it more difficult to increase the number of Special Operations "operators" (like Special Forces, Delta Force and SEALs). Increased recruiting and training operations underway indicate that the Department of Defense is looking at the war on terror is going to be a drawn out operation.


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