Saturday, June 11, 2005

IED Deaths on the rise 
Good stuff from Knight-Ridder:

Deaths due to IEDs rose by more than 41 percent in the first five months of this year, compared with the same period last year, and account for nearly 52 percent of the 261 U.S. combat deaths so far this year, according to statistics assembled by Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, an Internet site that uses official casualty reports to organize deaths by a variety of criteria.

That’s a change from 2004, when IEDs accounted for 189 of the 720 combat deaths among U.S. troops - about 26 percent.

In the first five months of last year, 85 deaths were attributed to IEDs. In the same period this year, 120 deaths were due to roadside bombs. They were the No. 1 cause of U.S. combat deaths for each of the five full months so far this year.

Not too sure what to make of it. To an extent, though, we should remember that U.S. troops were engaged in more extensive offensive operations last year - and not just in Fallujah, but in Najaf and other Shiite areas, as well. With that comes an increase in direct fire engagements, and so the number of IED casualties as a total percentage of casualties would be expected to be lower.

But why is it the number of IED-related deaths are on the increase, in absolute terms?

My guess:

1.) U.S. forces are doing less patrolling, and relying more on Iraqi security forces, who are improving, but still less reliable and less aggressive about finding IEDs.

2.) The extensive offensive operations against Fallujah and other areas in the second half of 2004 kept the Muj in reactive mode, knocking them off balance.

However, we're now seeing more offensive activity in the Al Qaim area (sending a pointy message to Syria in the process). So we should soon see a blip up in direct fire and other casualties compared to IED casualties, a corresponding blip down in the percentage of IED casualties, and a general down trend in total casualties after that, if the operation is a success.

Hopefully that will be a secular decline, rather than a cyclical one. But the knockout blow continues to elude us. Fallujah and the elections were a powerful 1-2 punch to the insurgency, along with the apparent wounding of Zarqawi. But the enemy is clearly adjusting, and becoming smarter with his tactics. The IEDs were always his best card.

Splash, out


Hey, excellent website. A great Iraq resource is Deaths in Iraq. It breaks all of the casualties down by age, race, branch of the military, country, etc.
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