Attrition: Iraq Body Count


October 1, 2007: The U.S. has deliberately stayed away from the enemy"body count" that was such a feature of the Vietnam war. But theAmerican military does keep count, they just keep their numbers secret. Reporters have been after those numbers for years, and some of them were finally released. Since 2003, U.S. forces have killed about 20,000 enemy fighters. There's a certain amount of estimate in that,as many were killed at a distance (by smart bombs or missiles) andmany bodies were blown to pieces or buried.

About26 percent of the dead hostiles were killed this year, so far.This does not include those killed during the initial invasion. Iraqicivilian dead during the invasion were under a thousand, and militaryand paramilitary dead were believed to be about 8,000. Since then,most of the civilian dead, perhaps as many as 100,000, have been theresult of Iraqis killing each other. It's hard to get a count of thecivilian dead, because over half the Sunni Arabs (who supply most ofthe terrorists) have fled their homes, and often the country. Whilethe terrorists have concentrated on killing Shia, in the last twoyears, the Shia have been going after Sunni Arabs with growing effect.

The U.S. has lost 3,800 dead. About half were lost during offensiveoperations (U.S. troops looking for a fight), and the rest mostly fromroadside bombs. During offensive operations, U.S. troops generallykill ten or more Iraqis for every American killed. That's why theIraqis prefer to use roadside bombs and other forms of ambush. TheIraqis still take higher losses, but it's not nearly as bad as when anAmerican combat unit comes calling. As military history shows, time and again, you are often safer when you are on the offensive, and have the enemy off balance. That is what has happened with the current "surge offensive." American casualties have gone down, and enemy losses have gone up.




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