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The paradox of warfare is that as weapons have become more lethal, the mortality rate has decreased. A soldier wounded by spears and arrows during the siege of Troy, where Homer described a 90% mortality rate in the Iliad (1200 BCE), was almost guaranteed to die of wounds, whereas a soldier wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED) during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003–2011) was virtually guaranteed to live, having an approximate survival rate of 90%, according to C. K. Murray.

The three factors that determine a wounded soldier’s survival are nature of the wound, the interval from wounding to medical care, and the skill and capability of the medical personnel. The sooner a wounded soldier receives medical care after sustaining injury, the better his outcome.

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