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Statistical Trends in the American-Iraqi War

As of June 2, 2007, Operation Iraqi Freedom had cost the lives of 3475 American soldiers, with another 12 deaths awaiting confirmation by the Department of Defense. On a monthly basis, the death toll for Coalition troops has been highly volatile, rising significantly during periods of intensified operations, such as during the seige of Fallujah in late 2004 and after. May 2007 marks yet another month of significantly higher casualty rates than are typical, and this is in part due to the “troop surge” President Bush initiated early this year, but it is also the result of what the Washington Post describes in a June 3, 2007, article as “increasingly sophisticated and lethal means of attack” being used by insurgents.

The graphic below, derived from statistics available at the private, highly informative site, Iraq Coalition Casualties, shows the month-by-month Coalition casualty numbers, the vast majority of which represent deaths of U.S. troops.

Note in the above graphic that the monthly number of troops killed had been trending downward from the beginning of this year until April, when the casualty figure jumped steeply and then climbed even higher in May. No let-up is expected: Queen Mary College military analyst Toby Dodge is quoted in the Washington Post article cited above as expecting “a very nasty summer” as disparate insurgent forces, including al-Qa’ida in Iraq, Ja’ish al-Mahdi, and others, turn away from targeting Iraqis and set their sites on killing American soldiers with increasingly sophisticated operational tactics and more destructive weaponry.

Evidence of the maturation of the insurgency in its various factions comes in many forms, but perhaps the most troubling statistic is captured below, which shows the month-to-month ratio of wounded-to-killed Coalition soldiers. The lower the ratio, the more lethal, on average, attacks had been during a given month. The chart below, again derived from data available at Iraq Coalition Casualties, shows the troubling trend.

The red line is the three-month (reverse sum) weighted moving average of the wounded-to-killed ratio, and it clearly shows that the ratio has been generally trending downward since about the last half of 2006. According to director John Pike, quoted in the Washington Post article, “[T]he closer you… get to that 3-to-1 ratio,” the more like a “stand-up fight” characteristic of 20th Century wars the American-Iraqi conflict becomes.

With the trend toward more sophisticated, targeted, lethal violence against U.S. troops, and with no prospect in the foreseeable future for any drawdown of American involvement in Iraq, the Summer is, indeed, shaping up to be “very nasty,” as is the Autumn and well beyond.

The Dark Wraith trusts that the Democrats in Congress have already prepared their future excuses for failing to stop the Bush Administration’s debacle.

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Dark Wraith

Dark Wraith