The U.S. Marine Corps 2/7 (2nd battalion of the 7th marine regiment)
recently completed a six month tour in Afghanistan. The unit was expecting less
action than they experienced in Iraq, but this proved not to be the case. The
thousand man battalion suffered 150 casualties, including twenty dead. This was
more losses than the 15,000 marines in Iraq suffered during the same period.
to earlier wars, the losses were quite low for the 2/7. During the Vietnam war,
the 1/9 (1st battalion of the 9th marines) averaged 93 men killed in combat
every six months for the four years the battalion was in Vietnam. Overall, the casualty
rate in Iraq was about a third of what they were in Vietnam. And the casualty
rate, even recent ones, in Afghanistan have been lower than in Iraq before al
Qaeda was defeated last year.
War is still
dangerous, especially for the marines, who are primarily infantry (most of
their support troops are sailors, including the combat medics attached to each
marine unit.) The marines are not only infantry, they are "light
infantry" (few armored vehicles), and employ very aggressive tactics. This
leads to quicker, and more frequent, battlefield success, but also results in
more friendly (and enemy) casualties.