Accidents, Illness Kill Most Troops in Iraq

"Nonhostile" incidents pose greatest threat in recent months
By Amelia Atlas,  Newser User
Posted May 3, 2009 5:27 AM CDT
An Iraqi woman passes US troops and Iraqi police officers as they stand guard in the Bab al-Jadeed area of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, last month.    (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)
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(Newser) – Troops serving in Iraq in the past eight months were most likely to die from "nonhostile" causes such as illness or accidents, according to new statistics. The period marks the first time insurgents have not been responsible for the majority of troops deaths, reports the Boston Globe. While the statistics highlight the decline in insurgent violence in recent months, they also raise disturbing questions about military safety.

The Defense Department plans to deploy hundreds of trained safety specialists to examine conditions and to teach new safety drills, such as how to escape from a flipped Humvee. Officials worry that the rising number of accidental gunshot deaths, particularly in new units, suggest a lack of preparedness. Such deaths, alongside suicides, also reflect the mounting stress on troops serving multiple tours of duty. "That is a sign of wear on the force. It has become cumulative," said one veteran.