Wednesday, August 01, 2007

July War Statistics

Last Monday’s New York Times contained an op-ed piece by two Brookings Institution scholars, Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, who have, in varying degree, been critical of the war in Iraq.

The two men had just returned from an eight-day trip to Iraq to get a close-in look at the effects (if any) of the Bush troop “surge” first announced on January 10th but took until mid-June to get the nearly 30,000 additional U.S. soldiers and Marines into Iraq. Apparently, if O’Hanlon and Pollack are to be believed, the tide of battle is shifting in favor of the U.S. Why? Because the foreign fighters and al-Qaeda-in-Iraq “imports” have forgotten the first rule of an insurgency: keep in the good graces of the local power brokers – in this case, the sheiks.

The two scholars noted the fall-off of U.S. fatalities in Iraq during the month of July, the first full month after all the troops were in place. Whereas the U.S. had endured more than 100 fatalities in each of the previous three months, July’s total was “only” 78, a drop of 30 percent from the April-June average.

They also found U.S. troop morale higher than during previous visits, a change they said that reflected a sense that the coalition forces and the Iraqi police and army were finally making progress against the militias, foreign fighters, death squads, and others who attacked the security apparatus.

What was striking about the op-ed was its focus on the U.S. perceptions of the problem, the change in tactics brought by the new coalition commander, General David Petraeus.

This is all well and good, but to draw any conclusion from these and other heretofore rare experiences (e.g., walking down a street in Ramadi without body armor) misses the fundamental point: what matters is the experiences and the sense of security engendered by Iraqi forces army and police units among the Iraqis who have hung on in their own homes despite the daily threats and the daily bombings.

And while the “new” tactics may seem to be working, one must never lose site of the fact that there is no military solution for Iraq’s impasse. The necessary political component of strategy – a political reconciliation of the factions and sustainable progress on the 18 benchmarks the Iraqis set for themselves – has remained stuck on dead center.

So the numbers:

U.S. fatalities in July: 78, for a total of 3,657 since March 19, 2003 , of whom 78 are women and 116 died of self-inflicted wounds. U.S. wounded total 25, 558. Four soldiers are missing.

UK fatalities increased by 8 in July to 164; other coalition countries have lost 129 soldiers in Iraq. Of these latter figures, UK female deaths stand at 5 while Ukraine has lost one woman among its 20 deaths.

Iraqi civilian deaths in July, based on informal totals from the various Iraqi ministries, were 1,652,an increase of 30 percent over June – offsetting almost exactly the 30 percent decrease in U.S. fatalities. Another 232 Iraqis in the security forces also were killed in July. Since January 2005, at least 42,195 Iraqis have been reported killed

As for monetary costs, the Government Accountability Office released an estimate that put direct war costs at $1 trillion. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported that the Pentagon could not locate or otherwise account for 190,000 small arms given to Iraq police and army in 2004-2005. This is part of an overall sum of $19.2 billion in equipment sent to Iraq that is missing. The Inspector General called the corruption epidemic among Iraqis a “second insurgency.”

Iraqis in Baghdad still have to live with one to two hours of electricity per day. The World Bank estimates that repairing – better yet rebuilding – the electricity grid in Iraq will cost $27 billion; so far the U.S. has invested $4 billion.

Over in Afghanistan, the 12 U.S. fatalities in July raised the total for the year to 63 and fore Operation Enduring Freedom to 420. Coalition forces suffered 17 fatalities in July, the highest monthly total for 2007. This puts their total for the year to date at 66 and for the war at 225.


Blogger JSN said...

In 2006 the death rate in Iraq for allied military was 75 +/- 24 per month and for the first seven months of 2007 the rate was 100 +/-16 per month. The mean errors 24 in 2006 and 16 so far in 2007 are so large that it is not possible to make reliable conclusions about trends based on death rates alone.

I do not think these figures include suicides and it is my impression that the 116 suicides you noted occurred in Iraq. Suicides by Iraq vets in this country are not counted but they are obviously related.

According to Thomas Ricks in "Fiasco" about 400,000 individual US military personnel have served tours of duty in Iraq. I suspect by now that number has increased my guess is 450,000. The total death rate is approaching 1% and the number of severely wounded and unable to return to duty has not been reported to my knowledge but it must be at least 1%.

Most persons would not do something where the odds of their being killed or seriously injured were 1 in 50.

8:39 AM  

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