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August In Iraq Makes For More Dog Days

File photo: An injured US soldier in Iraq.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington DC (UPI) Sept 1, 2006
U.S. forces in Iraq continued to suffer the same old levels of low but grinding attrition through the dog days of August. The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq through Thursday, Aug. 31, since the start of operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,635, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Therefore, 29 U.S. soldiers were killed during the two-week period from Aug. 18 through Aug. 31 at an average rate of just over two per day.

This figure confirms a general pattern of rates of U.S. soldiers killed per day over the past five weeks. U.S. soldiers were killed during the three week period from July 28 through Aug. 17 at an average rate of 2.33 per day. From July 21 through July 27, 14 U.S. soldiers were killed at an average rate of two per day.

Before this relatively stable five week period, the rate at which U.S. soldiers were killed per day in Iraq had risen for almost eight weeks. Some 1.75 per day were killed during the eight-day period from July 13 through July 20. And 1.36 U.S. soldiers were killed per day during the 15 day period from June 29 through July 12. However, during the eight days from June 21 through June 28, 24 U.S. soldiers died at an average rate of three per day.

The latest figures still fit within the parameters of casualties we have recorded during the past five months. Some 1.75 U.S. soldiers per day died in Iraq during the seven-day period from June 14 through June 20. During the eight-day period of June 6-13, 2.5 U.S. soldiers were killed per day. During the six-day period of May 31-June 5, some 11 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of 1.82 per day.

The latest figures also conform to the general pattern during the 48-day period from April 13 to May 30, when 107 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of just over 2.2 per day. But they were more than 40 percent worse than the previous longer-term trend during the 68-day period from Feb. 4 to April 12, when 112 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of 1.65 per day.

The rate at which U.S. soldiers were being injured in Iraq continued to slowly but inexorably rise. From Aug. 18 through Aug. 31, 19,775 U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq at an average rate of 18.7 per day. This was an increase of more than 12 percent on the previous three week period from July 28 through Aug. 17 when 354 U.S. soldiers were injured at an average rate of 16.857 per day.

This was still a great improvement upon the seven day period from July 21 through July 27 when 169 U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq at an average rate of 24.14 per day. However, that figure may have reflected a short-term surge in insurgent attacks that was a statistical anomaly. For the preceding eight-day period from July 13 through July 20 saw an average figure of 14.25 U.S. soldiers injured per day in Iraq -- making a total of 114 injured during that time.

As of Aug. 31, 19,773 U.S. soldiers have been injured in Iraq since the start of hostilities.

The latest rate of U.S. troops wounded per day, however, was still more than 60 percent worse than the figure of 178 U.S. troops wounded over the 15-day period from June 29 through July 12 at an average rate of 11.2 per day. The latest rate was also 20 percent higher than the figures of 124 wounded during the June 21-June 28 eight-day period at an average rate of 15.5 per day. It was also far worse than the 82 wounded in seven days from June 14 through June 20 at an average rate of 11.7 per day.

The latest figures, however, were far better than those during the eight-day period of June 6-13, when 236 U.S. troops were wounded in Iraq at an average rate of 29.5 per day. But they were far worse than the levels of May 31 to June 5, when 70 U.S. soldiers were wounded at an average rate of 11.67 per day.

Most significantly, however, the latest figures were more than 29 percent worse than the long-term average rates for U.S. troops wounded in Iraq over the four months from February through May. Some 635 U.S. soldiers were wounded in the 48-day period from April 13 to May 30 at an average rate of just over 13.2 wounded per day. That figure showed a remarkable statistical consistency compared with the previous 68-day period from Feb. 4 to April 12 when 943 U.S. soldiers were wounded in 68 days, an average rate of just below 13.9 wounded per day, according to figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

As of Aug. 31, 8,991 of these U.S. troops were wounded so seriously that they were listed as "WIA Not RTD" in the DOD figures -- in other words, Wounded in Action Not Returned to Duty. This marked an increase of 105 such casualties in 14 days at an average rate of 7.5 per day. This marked an increase compared with 113 such casualties in the previous 21 days at an average rate of 5.38 per day.

The U.S. efforts in recent weeks to boost the operational use of Iraqi Army forces, including against Shiite militias, has not led to any significant drop in the rates at which U.S. forces continue to suffer casualties in the conflict.

Source: United Press International

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