An Argument for Documenting Casualties: Violence Against Iraqi Civilians 2006
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
Pagination or Media Count:
The problem of measuring the number of civilian fatalities in Iraq gained widespread media coverage when the Lancet published a study in October 2004 claiming that more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed since the U.S. invasion in March 2003. The authors of this study later released another report, published in October 2006, asserting that 655,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed since the invasion. The findings of both Lancet studies were widely debated along with other efforts to count civilian fatalities, such as the Iraq Body Count IBC. This debate has highlighted the problems associated with measuring civilian fatalities in a violent, unstable situation. Until recently, the U.S.-led Coalition did not have a formal system for documenting the level of violence directed at Iraqi civilians the only publicly available sources of data were independent studies Lancet, IBC, United Nations figures, and Iraqi government statistics. Because protecting the population is one of the central tenets of U.S. COIN doctrine, it can be surmised that trends related to Iraqi civilian fatalities should be a chief concern for the U.S. military. Thus, to develop a better picture of what is happening to the civilian population and support the creation of more-effective strategies to protect it, this document examines and analyzes available data on violent incidents involving Iraqis. The document begins by evaluating the open-source data currently available. Much of these data are problematic because of how they were collected or because of their level of fidelity. In response to these limitations, the RAND study team compiled a more robust dataset for 2006 by combining two extant databases, the IBC dataset and RANDs own RAND-Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism Knowledge Base dataset. This dataset provided the RAND study team with a basis for a thorough analysis of violence against Iraqi civilians in 2006.
- Sociology and Law
- Statistics and Probability
- Unconventional Warfare