Using Combat Losses of Medical Personnel to Estimate the Value of Trauma Care in Battle: Evidence from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan
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This study investigates the effect that US medical personnel deaths in combat have on other unit deaths and ‘mili- tary success,’ which we measure using commendation medals as a proxy. We use a difference-in-differences identi- fication strategy, measuring the changes over time in these outcomes following the combat loss of a medic or doctor and comparing it to the changes following the combat loss of a soldier who is not a medic or doctor. We find that overall unit deaths decrease in the five or ten days following the deaths of medical personnel in Vietnam, Korea, and the Pacific theater in World War II (WWII). In contrast, the WWII European and North African results indicate that overall unit deaths rise following medical personnel deaths. We find no relationship between medical personnel deaths and other unit deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. For Korea and the Pacific theater of WWII, our estimates suggest unit commendation medals decrease following the deaths of medical personnel. This pattern of evidence is consistent with a model in which units often halted aggressive tactical maneuvers and reduced pursuit of their military objectives until deceased medical personnel were replaced. The results for the other conflicts are mixed and show little connection between medical personnel deaths and commendation medals.
The article of record as published may be found at https://doi.org/10.1080/10242694.2015.1005897
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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