The Washington Post this morning reports on Army Spec. David Hickman, who died last month in Bagdad, the victim of a roadside bomb. The paper notes that Hickman could very well be the last last of the 4,474 Americans to die in Iraq:
With the final U.S. combat troops crossing out of Iraq into Kuwait, those who held Hickman dear are struggling to come to terms with the particular poignancy of his fate. As the unpopular war that claimed his life quietly rumbles to a close, you can hear within his inner circle echoes of John F. Kerry’s famous 1971 congressional testimony on Vietnam:
How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
The story is accompanied, both online and in print, by a column chart visualizing day-by-day fatalities during the eight-year war. This version shows all deaths:
This version shows soldiers who, like Hickman, died from improvised explosive devices:
A nice stack graph from The Economist:
THE American government is keen to show its commitment to security in Asia by putting boots on the ground there. As this analysis shows, the number of American troops (Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force active duty personnel) in Asia is only slightly smaller than the number in Europe, where Americans in uniform are largely a hangover from the carve-up of the continent at the Yalta conference in 1945. Indeed, the one lesson that can be drawn from the data is that today’s strategic priorities can shape deployments for decades to come, long after the original reason for putting G.I.s in a particular region has gone. Another is that American forces do not pay much attention to Africa, despite the number of active or dormant conflicts there. The methodology used for this analysis has changed slightly from 2006 as the Department of Defence reports deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan based on contributing troops rather than actual boots on the ground, but that does not seem to make a huge difference, at least to this chart.
The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy ended today, eliminating a practice that led to more than 13,000 service member discharges since 1993. Its enforcement has been in decline since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to unofficial stats from Wikipedia:
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