Monday, June 02, 2008

May War Statistics

May was a ”good” month – comparatively – except for the 19 U.S. service members and the two soldiers from the Georgia Republic who died while participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The U.S. toll is the lowest of any month recorded since the invasion in March 2003. The previous low of 20 came in February 2004, a 29 day month (leap year).

Four of the U.S. fatalities were due to non-hostile causes, raising the total fatalities for U.S. troops due to non-hostile causes to 743, approximately 18% of the war’s 4,085 total U.S. dead through May 31 of this year. Total Coalition killed in Iraq now stands at 312, with Great Britain suffering the most killed among Coalition countries with 176 dead.

May also saw two more U.S. female soldiers die, raising the U.S. total so far in calendar 2008 to five bring the Coalition total for female fatalities to 105, 98 of whom were in the U.S. contingent. (Of the other 7 females to have died in Iraq, six were British and one was Ukrainian.)

Iraqi casualties decreased in May as compared to April. Iraqi Security forces lost 110, down by three from April. Iraqi civilian/non- combatant deaths were reported at 396 in May, down 37 percent from April’s 631.

In Afghanistan, May saw a total of 24 U.S. and coalition fatalities, 17 U.S. and 7 from other coalition countries. Considering that the year to date totals for the U.S. and other coalition countries are 38 and 40, respectively, this was an extremely bloody month with nearly half – 45 percent – of U.S. fatalities for 2008 coming in May.

In fact, the 17 U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan for May almost equaled U.S. fatalities in Iraq – 19 – for the same month. This near conjunction is the result of:

-heavier fighting in Afghanistan against a revived Taliban;

-less exposure of U.S forces in Iraq to al-Qaeda- in-Iraq and other insurgents;

-the completion of withdrawing the two Marine battalions and three of the five Army Brigade Combat Teams that constituted the “troop surge”;

-the continuing stand-down of the Mahdi army; and

-the general adherence of the Sunni “Awakening Councils” in Anwar province to their pledge to not fight against U.S. and coalition forces.

How long Iraq remains quiet is an open question, but with the last two Brigade Combat Teams due to leave Iraq this month, the opposition to the U.S. presence will be better positioned to renew the fight. Over this past weekend, a very vocal segment of Iraq’s society peacefully protested against the U.S.-Iraq “Declaration of Principles” that the U.S. is trying to use as the basis for an “agreement” that would legitimize the continuing presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the UN mandate expires December 31, 2008.

The message, apparently not heard by Washington, is uncomplicated: “Goodbye!”

What part of this sentiment does the Bush administration not understand?

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