News & Opinion | June 1, 2018 5:00 am

Research: One-Third of Military Injuries in Iraq, Afghanistan Were Not From Battle

Car accidents, falls and equipment mishaps caused the injuries.

iraq
A US soldier advising Iraqi forces is seen in the city of Mosul on June 21, 2017, during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi troops to retake the last district still held by the Islamic State (MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

According to research published Wednesday in the medical journal JAMA Surgery, about one-third of the injuries sustained by nearly 30,000 U.S. service members during three military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq weren’t from battle. Instead, the injuries came from car accidents, falls, equipment mishaps and other nonbattle incidents. These accidents cost the lives of more than one in 10 injured service members deployed to those conflicts, reports CNN. 

“Nonbattle injury among deployed forces may have different possible causes, deplete medical resources, increase costs, decrease mission capabilities, and result in long-term disability for injured service members,” wrote the research authors, led by Dr. Tuan D. Le of the US Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, according to CNN. 

Injuries unrelated to combat accounted for 13 percent of the hospital admissions during the Vietnam War and 25 percent during both Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Half of all U.S. service member deaths during Operation Desert Shield were caused by nonbattle injuries. Better understanding the possible causes of injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq could help better safety practices in the military, the authors wrote, according to CNN.