Statistics in a detailed new combat study show that the first few firefights make all the difference.
More than 2,500 U.S. military personnel have died in firefights in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly as many as killed by improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. We recently completed an investigation validating the widely held belief that soldiers and Marines surviving their first few firefights have increased long-term survivability in later, prolonged exposure to combat. 1 The study also identified the underlying factors and behaviors that contribute to casualties and survival. Identification of factors amenable to explicit training of individuals and groups has motivated consideration of these issues since the first armies were formed.