The following chart breaks out every 500th U.S. death. Note that the shortest interval occurs between the 1,000th and 1,500th fatalities which encompasses September 2004 to March 2005. almost exactly six months.
U.S. Fatality Milestones
First March 21, 2003
9 ½ months
500th January 8, 2004
1,000th September 6, 2004
1,500th March 2, 2005
7 months 3 weeks
2,000th October 23, 2005
7 months 3 weeks
2,500th June 15, 2006
6 months 2 weeks
3,000th December 31, 2006
Three months have elapsed since the 3,000th U.S. fatality; President Bush is increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq by nearly 30,000 via tour extensions, moving forces in ahead of schedule – including some who have been back from the combat zone for less than twelve months. Another 1,800 Marines from the Inactive Ready Reserve will be sent, involuntarily, starting in October, as support troops although reportedly 200 will fill combat infantry positions.
About half of the 30,000 being added are in country, with the rest either in Kuwait or getting ready to depart for the Gulf region (all are to be in place by the middle to the end of May).
With 253 U.S. fatalities recorded in the three months since January 1, 2007, the number of dead are on track to hit 3,500 by the end of June. Should that occur, the first half of 2007 will match the shortest previous elapsed time to record 500 fatalities. And with the surge in U.S. troops seemingly being matched by increased attacks in even some of the neighborhoods of Baghdad and al-Anbar, the 3,500th death may come earlier than July 1.
Also of note: considering the “surge” is lifting U.S. troop strength to at least 160,000, during the September 2004 – March 2005 period, troop strength went from a “steady state” of 138,000 in September 2004 to 155,000 in February 2005.
Some say the U.S. has already passed the 3,500th mark and in fact has passed the 4,000th fatality. This is based on applications to the Department of Labor’s Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Division which handles workers’ compensation claims for deaths and injuries sustained by contractors working in the war zone. The Chicago Tribune reports that as of the end of 2006, 770 contractors working for U.S. companies had been killed and another 7,761 had been wounded or injured – IF they were killed while “on duty.”
Accurate Iraqi fatalities going back to March 2003 continue to be elusive. But in the last seven days of this past March, at least 517 Iraqis were killed. This one week sent the reported civilian death toll for March 2007 to 1,869 compared to February’s total of 1,646. However, the total from March 2003 to April 2007 of Iraqis killed as compiled by Iraq Body count now stands between 60,411 and 66,280. This contrasts with the 29,039 recorded since January 2005 by Iraq Coalition Casualty web site.
It took seven years from the first public hearings in Congress in 1966 – which themselves were not held until three years after the start of the build-up of advisors for the South Vietnamese army -- for U.S. troops to leave Vietnam. If this year marks the equivalent of 1966, U.S. troops will be in Iraq until 2014 – UNLESS we do something very different from Vietnam – and do it quickly.