Monday, January 22, 2007

From Green to Amber

Tonight I imagine President Bush is working on his State of the Union speech.

If so, I hope he can find a moment to reconsider his opposition to timelines or benchmarks or whatever the latest “non-cut-off or non-end point word is acceptable within the White House.

The reason for mentioning this is the high fatality rate in Iraq the last three days Over the weekend, 27 U.S. service personnel died while today nearly 90 Iraqis perished

With nine more days remaining in January so far at least 1,131 Iraqi civilians and security personnel have died. A week ago, the UN reported that in 2006, 34,452 Iraqis had been killed in the insurgent and sectarian struggles, with December’s numbers still to be finalized. These 1,131 already are 350+ more than reported for all of January 2006 and at this pace, January 2007 will see nearly 1,600 dead.

U.S. fatalities now stand at 3,057. Since December 31, 2006, when the 3,000 and 3,001 deaths were recorded, another 56 have died. For all of January 2006, the U.S. lost 62. At the current rate, this month will see at least 79 killed. The interval between the 2,500 and the 3,000 fatality was 6 ½ months, and already more than 10 percent have died, a chilling statistic in light of the increased exposure to danger that U.S. forces can expect in the coming months..

But even more worrisome is the tactic used in Karbala where insurgents dressed in U.S. military uniforms and driving U.S. vehicles and “acting” like U.S. troops penetrated three Iraqi police checkpoints and opened fire on U.S. troops providing security for a U.S.-Iraqi meeting on next steps against the insurgents. Five soldiers died. The attackers escaped.

This incident reveals a lapse in operational security – the insurgents had to know when and where the meeting would take place – and the obviously careful study by the insurgents of U.S. habits and attitudes that they were able to mimic so convincingly.

Such adaptability also suggests that those in charge of operations may want to reconsider their “color code” choice to remind everyone, from president to private, that in Iraq there is no “safe zone.” At best, it is “Forever Amber.”

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