Artillery: September 28, 2004

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: While the U.S. Department of Defense wont release any data on enemy deaths in Iraq, the Iraqi Health Ministry has begun doing so. In the six month period from early April to early September, 3,487 Iraqis were killed because of combat action. Another 13,720 Iraqis were wounded. This data only covered fifteen of Iraqs 18 provinces, and most of the action was in fighting against the al Sadr Shia gunmen in Najaf, Baghdad and other cities. The three Sunni Arab provinces that are most hostile to the government made collecting such data there impossible. During that same period, 432 American soldiers were killed, in all 18 provinces. The Iraqi deaths also include government security forces (police and troops.) The Iraqi casualties in the three Sunni Arab provinces were high, and probably increased the overall number of deaths by at least 20 percent, to about 3,800 adult males killed. Some of these were innocent civilians caught in the cross fire. Actually, a third of them were, according to the Health Ministry, were Iraqis killed by anti-government forces. The Health Ministry also believes that many deaths of anti-government fighters are not reported, to prevent further investigation of the family by the police. Coalition troops have noted anti-government fighters trying to take their dead with them, for the same reason. 

What American troops do report, and this is often observed when journalists are about, are strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties. About two thirds of Iraqis are women and children. Since only nine percent of the combat dead are women and children, the American efforts appear to be working. The Israelis use the same approach when fighting Palestinians, and get the same results. Moreover, the Israelis have much more information available on the Palestinians they are fighting, and have found that over 80 percent of the adult males killed are actually hostile fighters. 

American troops appear to have a 4:1 casualty ratio (for dead Iraqis for each dead American) with the anti-government forces. This varies quite a lot depending on the type of unit. American combat units appear to have a 10:1 ratio, while non-combat units, which get hit by roadside bombs, ambushes and mortar attacks, have a less than 2:1 ratio. The non-combat troops often fire back when they have a chance, but experience has shown that the best way to deal with an ambush is to increase speed and drive away from it. The overall experience with American troops shows why the anti-government forces and terrorists prefer to attack Iraqis. However, even this is becoming less effective, as better trained Iraqi combat troops appear in greater numbers. Some 90 percent of the of the coalition combat operations are conducted by American troops.

 


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