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 United States Department of Defense">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.
PKIA means "presumed killed in action" This term is used when personnel are lost in battle, initially listed MIA, but after not being found, are later presumed to have not survived.
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 "killed in action" or 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.