Killed in action (KIA) is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own combatants at the hands of hostile forces. The United States Department of Defense, for example, says that those declared KIA need not have fired their weapons but have been killed due to hostile attack. KIAs do not come from incidents such as accidental vehicle crashes and other "non-hostile" events or terrorism. KIA can be applied both to front-line combat troops and to naval, air and support troops. Someone who is killed in action during a particular event is denoted with a † (dagger) beside their name to signify their death in that event or events.
Further, KIA denotes one to have been killed in action on the battlefield whereas died of wounds (DOW) relates to someone who survived to reach a medical treatment facility. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) also uses DWRIA, rather than DOW, for "died of wounds received in action". However, historically, militaries and historians have used the former acronym.
KIFA means "killed in flight accident". This term is used when personnel are killed in an aerial mishap that did not result from hostile action.
NATO defines a battle casualty as when a combatant is killed outright or who dies as a result of wounds or other injuries before reaching a medical treatment facility or help from fellow soldiers.