On this day when we remember our war dead, it’s worth looking back at the when and the how of the 3455 US military fatalities in Iraq, 100 of them soldiers from Fort Riley. Rates of woundings and fatalities in Iraq show the same pattern, a sharp rise in fatalities and woundings since roughly last November. There is too little data to attempt to determine whether the escalation since January has changed the trend. Daily fatality rates are higher than the levels during the invasion itself – the era known as “major combat operations.”
In the time before the “Mission Accomplished” speech on the aircraft carrier, an average of 3.26 American soldiers per day were killed. An average of 3.71 American soldiers died each day during May.
The current upsurge in casualties (the green line above) seems to begin roughly with the 2005 Iraqi parliamentary elections. It was suggested at the time that the upsurge in violence might have been a result of the campaigning itself, an attempt to terrorize voters. the persistence of violence long after the elections clearly falsifies those claims. Violence has continued because of the political failure of the elected Iraqi leadership. An ethnically fractured government has governed by carving up the nation, and American troops have had to mediate that civil war.
Whether or not that surge in violence corresponds to a change in weaponry, but surely does indicate growing technical ability of the insurgents. It’s hard to look at these data and not remember a comment made by a Marine in Iraq, who complained that when his squad went on patrol after a day of marksmanship training with local police, insurgent snipers got a lot more accurate. The extent to which we are training and equipping our own enemies needs to be investigated. Ideally, before the line of fatalities (below the fold) climbs even higher).