A Summary Estimate Of Iranian Casualties In The Iran-Iraq War (9)

[Conflict Iran]

[This post is based on “Iranian Casualties in the Iran-Iraq War: A Reappraisal,” by H. W. Beuttel, originally published in the December 1997 edition of the International TNDM Newsletter.]

Posts in this series:
Iranian Casualties in the Iran-Iraq War: A Reappraisal
Iranian Missing In Action From The Iran-Iraq War
Iranian Prisoners of War From The Iran-Iraq War
The “Missing” Iranian Prisoners of War From The Iran-Iraq War
Iranian Killed In Action And Died Of Wounds In The Iran-Iraq War
Iranian Wounded In Action In The Iran-Iraq War
Iranian Chemical Casualties In The Iran-Iraq War
Iranian Civil Casualties In The Iran-Iraq War
A Summary Estimate Of Iranian Casualties In The Iran-Iraq War

If we estimate that at least 5,000,000 troops (about 12% of Iran’s then population) served in the war zone, then the military casualty distribution is not less than the following (Bold indicates the author’s choice from ranges):

Killed in Action/Died of Wounds: 188,000 (156,000-196,000) (17%)

Wounded in Action: 945,000 (754,000-1,110,000) (83%)

Severely Wounded/Disabled: 200,000 (18%) (Note: carve out of total wounded)

Missing in Action: 73,000 (6%) (Note: Carve out of total KIA plus several thousand possible defectors/collaborators)

PoW: 39,000-44,000

Total Military Battle Casualties (KIA + WIA): 1,133,000-1,302,000 (28% theater rate)

Possible Non-Battle Military Deaths: 74,000

Non-Battle Military Injuries: No idea.

With Civilian KIA (11,000) and WIA (34,000) and “chemical” (45,000) Total Hostile Action Casualties: 1,223,000

Possible Military Non-Battle Deaths (74,000):1,297,000

Total Deaths Due to the Imposed War: 273,000 (104% of Pentagon estimate of 262,000)

Of 5,000,000 estimated Iranian combatants (1 million regular army, 2 million Pasdaran, 2 million Baseej)

~ 4% were Killed in Action/Missing in Action

~ 4% were Disabled

~ 13% were Wounded

~ 1% were Non-Battle Deaths

~ 1% were PoWs

Total military losses all known causes ~ 27%

The military battle casualty total percentile (27%) is intermediate between that of World War I (50% ~ British Army) and World War II (13% ~ U.S. Army/U.S. Marine Corps, 22% British Army).[118]

The author acknowledges the highly speculative nature of much of the data and argument presented above. It is offered as a preliminary starting point to further study. As such, the author would appreciate hearing from anyone with additional data on this subject. In particular he would invite the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to provide any information that would corroborate, correct or expand on the information presented in this article.


[118] Kenneth R. Timmerman, Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq, New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991, pp. 406-407, n. 3

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Shawn Woodford
Shawn Woodford

Shawn Robert Woodford, Ph.D., is a military historian with nearly two decades of research, writing, and analytical experience on operations, strategy, and national security policy. His work has focused on special operations, unconventional and paramilitary warfare, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, naval history, quantitative historical analysis, nineteenth and twentieth century military history, and the history of nuclear weapon development. He has a strong research interest in the relationship between politics and strategy in warfare and the epistemology of wargaming and combat modeling.

All views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of any other private or public organization or entity.

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