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Casualties Creep Up In Iraq

File photo: US soldiers in Iraq. Photo courtesy of AFP.
By Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Jul 21, 2006
The grim paradox we noted in previous Iraq Benchmarks column continues. The rate at which U.S. troops are being killed in Iraq remain relatively low.

But this is only because rapidly escalating sectarian violence in Iraq appears to have distracted the Sunni insurgents from their previous assaults on U.S. forces.

The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq through Wednesday, July 20, since the start of operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,557, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Therefore, 14 U.S. soldiers were killed in the eight day period from July 13 through July 20 at an average rate of 1.75 per day. This was about 30 percent higher than the rate of 1.36 U.S. soldiers killed per day during the previous 15 day period from June 29 through July 12. But it was still 58.3 percent better than the period of June 21 through June 28 when 24 U.S. soldiers at an average rate of three per day.

The latest figures recorded a rate exactly identical to the rate of 1.75 U.S. soldiers killed by in Iraq per day during the seven-day period from June 14 through June 20. It was only 70 percent the rate per day during the eight-day period of June 6-13 when 2.5 U.S. soldiers were killed per day in Iraq. The latest figures were also marginally better than the six-day period of May 31-June 5 when some 11 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of 1.82 per day.

The latest figures were about 20 percent better than the longer-term trend of 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 somewhat 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 of 1.65 per day.

The rate at which U.S. soldiers are being injured in Iraq rose significantly during the same eight day period. From June 13 through June 20, 114 U.S. soldiers were wounded in Iraq at an average rate of 14.25 per day. As of July 20, 18,988 U.S. soldiers have been injured in Iraq since the start of hostilities. That was an increase of 114 wounded in eight days. This compared with 178 U.S. troops wounded over the previous 15 day period from June 29 through July 12 at an average rate of 11.2 wounded per day, an increase of 27.5 percent in the rate per day.

This was significantly, though not dramatically, better than the previous rate we recorded of 124 wounded during the June 21-June 28 eight days period at an average rate of 15.5 per day. It was statistically remarkably close to the figure of 82 wounded in seven days from June 14 through June 20 at an average rate of 11.7 per day.

The latest figures were also far better than 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. They were very close to the levels of May 31 to June 5, when 70 U.S. soldiers were wounded at an average rate of 11.67 per day.

The latest figures continue to show a marginal, though not marked improvement on the long-term average rates for U.S. troops wounded in Iraq over the previous 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 July 20, 8,661 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 101 such casualties in 23 days at an average rate of just under 4.4 per day. This showed a significant improvement almost 33 percent over the previous figure we monitored of 52 such casualties in eight days at an average rate of 6.5 per day. The latest figures were still 440 percent worse than during the June 13-June 20 lull when U.S. forces suffered only seven such casualties in seven days, or an average of one a day. However, the latest figures, while discouraging, were less than one third the rate during the day period from June 5 through June 12 when U.S. forces suffered 115 such casualties in eight days, an average of 14.38 per day.

These figures were only 63 percent the rate of May 31-June 5 which saw 42 such casualties, at an average rate of seven per day. And they were also only 73.33 percent the longer-term trends we recorded during the first four months of this year. There were 286 such casualties over 48 days from April 13 through May 30, at an average rate of just under six per day. The time period from Feb.4 through April 12 saw a rate of 5.5 such casualties per day over 68 days for a total of 375 seriously injured. The latest figures were only 80 percent of the rate during that longer term period

However, it is clear that the Sunni insurgency in Iraq has not diminished to any significant degree. The lower rates of U.S. casualties appear clearly attributable to two main causes:

First, the massive Shiite militia offensive against the general Sunni Muslim community in Iraq which Iraq's own new security services have proven totally unable to prevent or even mitigate to any significant degree.

And second, the policy of U.S. military commanders in Iraq to keep U>S, forces within protected compounds as much as possible and thereby minimize aggressive patrols and a significant high profile presence in most of the major insurgent areas at any time in order to minimize U.S. casualties.

We conclude by reiterating the same warning with which we concluded our previous Benchmarks column: The greatest concern of U.S. policymakers in the long term may be to try and prevent those Shiite forces turning on American troops as well.

Source: United Press International

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The Writing On The Wall Does Not Look Good In Iraq
Washington (UPI) Jul 21, 2006
The writing is on the wall in Iraq. U.S. policymakers and the new Iraqi government got that grim news this week. First, yet another suicide bomber in Iraq killed scores of people. This time, 59 people died in the provincial town of Kufa, a Shiite stronghold, in an attack Tuesday in a crowded market. The bomber lured day laborers to his mined minivan by offering them work.







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