Attrition: Counting The Dead In Iraq

July 4, 2008: Even though the Iraqi government does not have the most accurate record keeping (which is understandable, given the terror campaign there), it appears that about 70,000 civilians and 10,000 members of the security forces have died since early 2003. About 6,000 of Saddams troops and security forces died during the 2003 invasion, and about 20,000 terrorists since then. Most of these were Sunni Arabs, either pro-Saddam, or Sunni Arabs who simply wanted another Sunni Arab dictator in charge. These  included over a thousand foreigners. There were also a few hundred Kurdish terrorists associated with al Qaeda. Some of these were killed by Iranian troops.

Many more members of the security forces deserted, and it's only in the last three years that large numbers of Iraqi police and troops have stood and fought. The desertion rate is still high (by U.S. standards), but it always was high, even under Saddam (and earlier).

Thus about four percent of the dead in Iraq have been foreigners, mostly American. About two-thirds of the dead have been civilians, most of them killed by Sunni Arab terrorists. However, nearly half the Iraqi dead have been Sunni Arabs, either terrorists, Saddam's forces or civilians killed by Sunni and Shia terrorists. Thus while the Sunni Arabs comprise only about 20 percent of the population they have suffered three times as many dead (about one in a thousand) as the Shia (about one in three thousand). While most of the civilian dead were Shia, the Sunni Arab terrorists took much higher casualties.

All this, except for the coalition losses, are estimates. There is only fragmentary data on civilian and terrorist losses. But based on historical losses in similar conflicts, good estimates can be made. Many partisan groups have issued bad estimates, but that's part of the enemy Information War, something that also has a long historical record.

 

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