“We’re going to bring everybody back.” How often have you heard a commander say that?

How often have you heard comparisons of casualty counts between OEF/OIF and Vietnam? In about the same timeframe, we’ve suffered 5,312 combat deaths and 1,434 non-combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, as compared to 58,300 combat and non-combat deaths in Vietnam. This is universally pointed to as a good thing. (Unless you are politically opposed to the administration in office at the time, in which case ever single death is highlighted as the personal fault of the politicians of the opposing party. More on this later.)

But is the ultimate goal when you go to war to minimize your own casualties? If it is, you may as well not go to war at all. War is lethal violence applied against an opposing party to force them to your will. The other party will be applying, or attempting to apply, the same lethal violence to force you to their will. This means people are going to die, on both sides. If you cannot stomach that from the get-go, don’t go to war.

There’s a word for that, especially when the other side fired the first shot: Surrender.