Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here! 

Well, it's not quite the earth-shaking event it turned out to be for Steve Martin's Navin R. Johnson. Because it's not really the phone book. It's the new Brookings Institution Iraq Index!

Salient points:

After a significant decline spanning several months, noted here on this blog, US fatalities from hostile incidents spiked sharply in April. Apparently, I jinxed us.

The percentage of fatalities resulting from hostile direct fire spiked in the first week of May to 32.3%. But in the several months before that, it has been well below the long term average of about 31%.

The spike in just one week is too short a time to draw any conclusions. And the standard deviation in the data series is rather high, but compare the following percentage figures to the long term average:

Long term average: 30.9%

Aug 05....31.8
Sep 05....6.1
Oct 05 ...11.5
Nov.05 ...28.6
Dec 05....13.2
Jan 06 16.1
Feb 06....12.7
Mar 06....29.0
Apr 06....19.4

There have been a couple of upward blips...but the percentage of fatalities attributable to direct fire is roughly on a par with those experienced in late 2003/early 2004. Maybe slightly higher, but nowhere near the high-tide months of the insurgency.

This suggests to me that the insurgency is not able to effectively follow up its IEDs with direct fire, and is not getting too many chances to engage even at a fleeting advantage.

I'm also struck by the relative ineffectiveness of the RPG. It's a nerve-wracking weapon, but it doesn't seem to hit much.

Interestingly, too, only 5% of US fatalities are a result of car bombs - even though these seem to account for most Iraqi fatalities. Looked at from a criminologists point of view, the Modus Operandi of the attacks on US patrols vs. the MO of the attacks on Iraqi civilians seems to indicate that they are the work of separate groups. If they were the same group, the methodology would be more similar.

The number of Iraqi police killed has been on the upswing since February, but nowhere near where they were last summer. Meanwhile, new police are being trained all the time.

The number of car bombs has remained steady at 22 per month since February, and represents a drop of more than two thirds from late 2005 levels. They are less than 1/6th of year ago levels.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed per month has increased steadily and sharply over the last four months, rising from 305 to 545. Again, though, the number is still well under its peak, even throwing out the incident where 900 Shia were tragically killed in a stampede after a bomb went off during a religious piligrimage.

Multiple fatality bombings per month have increased over time, and are at near peak levels now. There is no significant letup, even comparing last month to the bloody summer months of last year, when the number of car bombings per month was 136 rather than 22. Presumeably, the bombings are becoming more effective at causing casualties.

Crime related deaths in Baghdad seems to be pretty steady over the last couple of years. A lot of that is semantics, though.

2/3rds of the civilian deaths during the war have been in and around Baghdad - which would make sense if you were a ruthless enemy who wanted to manipulate a gullible media. Curiously, only a quarter of police deaths have been in and around Baghdad.

Civilian deaths have vastly outnumbered Iraqi police deaths almost everywhere...by huge, huge factors. By several orders of magnitude. In Qadisiya it was 68 to 1. In Karbala it was 938 to 21. In Diqhar it was 974 to 8. In Baghdad it's 20,125 to 527. This indicates to me that the insurgency cannot justly be called an insurgency. The numbers of civilian dead compared to military and police dead can only be the result of a terror campaign, not an insurgency. Media outlets who do not grasp this are not accurately describing the terror campaign to their readers.

The annual fatality rate for combat arms troops per 100,000 is 887, compared with 235 for Combat Support troops and 284 for Combat Service Support. That's right - the pogues are taking more of a beating than some of the fighters. But infantry, armor, cavalry, and artillery troops are taking a bigger beating than anyone by far.

Coalition troops have a remarkable knack for killing moojies in even, round multiples of 1,000.

Coalition troop strength is 152,000, down 14,000 from year-ago levels.

Attacks on gas and oil pipelines and infrastructure have declined markedly. It looks as if a cell or two which had concentrated on these attacks has been disrupted or broken up entirely.

Since April of last year, Insurgents apparently launch attacks in multiples of five. Weird, huh?

37% of the active army, 30% of the Guard, and 34% of the Reserves have been deployed more than once.

Actionable tips from the population have been rising modestly.

There are 300 political parties in Iraq. Can you imagine the living hell these people must be enduring? The junk mail alone has got to be unbearable.

Iraq's current electricity production is lower than the stated prewar average. But remember you have to seasonally adjust. Iraq has been able to match nationwide prewar electrical production figures during peak demand summer months (read: Air conditioners) for some time now. Arguments that Iraq can't even turn on the power are a non starter.

Iraqi per capita GDP has doubled since 2003.

Car traffic has quintupled since the war. Gas lines have not lengthened appreciably in two years. Supply is keeping pace with demand it seems.

9 of 10 Sunnis approve of attacks on coalition forces. That's ok. I approve of attacks on 9 of 10 sunnis.

84% of Shia believe the country's going in the right direction - only 6 percent of Sunnis do. Shows you how much those bastards have been raping the country for years.

77% percent of Iraqis think that ousting Saddam was worth the cost and suffering of the war. 91% of Kurds and 98% of Shias believe that. Only 13% of Sunnis do, of course. Ask Riverbend.

That's all I have time for. Much more on the Brookings page.

Splash, out


The spike in American fatalities was not as sharp as i predicted due the fact that the terrorists are now getting support from 8 generals turned traitor. I think they suddenly turned traitor out of fear that their replacements are doing such better jobs that it would reflect in a big way on their own failures.
April is always the spike month, no?

What's the year-on-year rate for April?
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