General Robert Scales On The Steep Price Paid By America’s Infantry


15-Year Member
Retired Moderator
Feb 2, 2008

Since World War II the majority of American combat deaths have come from the infantry. This band of brothers, and now sisters, makes up a small minority of the military, but does the bulk of our fighting and dying.

These are our nation’s warriors. Their job is one that requires them to leave the wire every day with the intention of finding, closing with, and killing the enemy. They do battle with their foes close in and at the small unit level. These engagements should be one-sided fights, with the odds weighted in favor of American infantrymen and special operators. Tragically, this is not the case.

Good article.

It's often overlooked that since World War 2 the US has been in many wars, with substantial casualties, but has experienced tremendous air and naval superiority. America's economic might & advances in technology have made this possible. What air force or navy can compete with America's? None. For now. Moscow & Beijing are planning otherwise in the future.

Thus, no huge air losses like the US Eighth Air Force suffered over Europe.

Thus, no huge naval losses like those experienced at the hands of the German U-Boats in the Atlantic or Japanese Imperial Navy in the Pacifac. Guadancanal & Okinawa saw the US Navy lose as many dead at sea as the Army/Marines did on land.

Hell, even the Army artillery and armor have done pretty well since the opening months of the Korean War, casualty-wise. Being a chopper pilot in Vietnam was pretty rough, though.

The Brits nicknamed it the "PBI" (Poor Bloody Infantry) in the mud-and-blood-drenched fields of Flanders during the Great War. They were right.

In the modern era, when defeating (or merely wearing down) US military strength consists of unconventional insurgency tactics, it will be the boots-on-the-ground types that do most of the bleeding and dying. Comes with the job description.
And the 99% owe a whole lot to the 1% . One of my best friends was a Slick Ship Pilot in Vietnam and died on the Eighteenth hole at Martha's Vineyard's Farm Neck. We gave him a Par for the hole. We very few.