3 US Soldiers Killed North of Baghdad
Guerillas in the cane fields north of Baghdad detonated an enormous bomb on Saturday as a US military convoy went by, turning a 30 ton vehicle upside down and killing 3 US soldiers. Their deaths took the death total to over 500.
The press has concentrated on the significance passing the 500 mark (346 from hostile fire) with regard to deaths. But in this war, the injuries that have been survived have been horrific. Thousands of US soldiers are coming home with their faces blown off, or missing limbs, facing a lifetime in a wheel chair. The military medicine is good, and swift, and saves more lives. But the result is large numbers of permanently maimed vets. These have largely been hidden away from public view, and they haven’t even always been treated very well on their return by the military.
The other complaint I have is the fetish about daily number of attacks (down to 18, the military says, from a high of 50 a few months ago). But the rise to 15 attacks a day had once seemed intolerable, in the aftermath of the military victory. And the “reduction” to 18 a day appears to have been achieved over and over again. The important statistic is the number of our guys getting killed or wounded. That isn’t down appreciably in the past month, so fewer attacks that are more deadly seem to me to be just as bad as more attacks that are less efective.
[Several readers wrote in to point out that Newsweek says the number of US military sorties was cut to 500 in December from 1500 in November, and that the reduction in numbers of daily attacks may just mean the US soldiers are in their barracks and not so exposed to attack. Given the instability in the country, however, such a hunkered down posture may not be sustainable. If sorties were so drastically cut, this is surely for US domestic political purposes, since the casualties are unpopular and that means something in an election year.]