Death Surge Iraq Coalition Forces

Death surge: Iraq Coalition Forces Completing their deadliest Quarter:
Guest Editorial

William Blanchard writes:

In early April, 2006, the New York Times ran a front page article in the Sunday paper trumpeting declining casualty rates among the coalition troops in Iraq. March, 2006 had been an unusually quiet month, and the Times published a chart showing 6 consecutive months of declining fatalities. However, it was clear that the so-called trend was bogus. If the chart had shown 7 or more months, the trend would have all but vanished. As it turned out, April was one of the deadliest months of 2006, and the supposed decline was no longer mentioned.

Now there is a much clearer trend, heading in the opposite direction.

I suspect that lots of people had the same two reactions I had when the President Bush officially announced “the new way forward” (a.k.a. “the surge”) in January. My first reaction was, “it’s too little, too late”; and my second reaction was, “it’s going to get a lot more of our soldiers killed.”

Even pro-war analysts seemed to admit right out of the gates that the surge’s success was anything but assured. John McCain said if it had been up to him, there would have been more troops in the surge.

Sidney Blumenthal reported in February on a group of policy planners meeting at the Pentagon, all of whom believed the surge was destined to fail.

At his confirmation hearings, General Petraeus spoke of ominous emails from his friends and colleagues which said, “Congratulations – – I think”.

President Bush himself said, while announcing his new strategy, ”The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve.”

Now we can start to see the sacrifices to which the President referred. We are about to complete the deadliest quarter of the Iraq war so far for the coalition troops in Iraq.

We have reached 349 coalition fatalities for the past three calendar months, and with a more than a day left in June, the number is bound to go higher (It may be higher by the time you read this). The previous deadliest 3-month period was 11/04-1/05, during which there were 344 coalition fatalities.

For the first time, coalition fatalities have been over 100 for three months in a row. We’ve never had two months in a row before with more than 100 fatalities.

This will also be the deadliest 4-month period, with 431 coalition fatalities so far vs. 414 during 2/07-5/07 and 412 during 10/04-1/05.

It will be the deadliest 5-month period, with 515 dead vs. 500 during 1/07-5/07 and 499 during 9/04-1/05.

It will be the 2nd deadliest 6-month period, with 601 dead vs. 615 during 12/06-5/07 vs. 559 during 9/04-2/05.

I didn’t calculate 7 through 11 months, but it’s worth noting that we are about to finish the deadliest 12-month period (calendar months) of the entire war, with 981 coalition fatalities so far.

The previous deadliest 12-month period ended last month with 946 fatalities and before that it was 1/04-1/05 with 906 casualties.

It will also be the deadliest 3-month period for US troops (vs all coalitition troops) with 324 US soldiers killed since 4/1/07 vs. 316 for 11/04-1/05.

And the deadliest 12-month period for US troops (vs all coalitition troops) with 928 US troops killed since 7/1/06 vs 899 for the period ending last month and 837 for the 12-month period through 1/05.

One explanation for the rise in troop deaths is simple math. With more troops in harm’s way, there are bound to be more fatalities. However, it’s not clear that we’ve actually had much of a surge at all. According to, we are currently at 162,000 troops “in country”, up from 132,000 in January, but just 2 months earlier, in November, 2006 we were at 152,000. And in December, 2005, we were at 160,000.

There are other possible explanations. It could be that the new counterinsurgency tactics under General Petraeus leave the troops more vulnerable to attack. It could be that the attacks are just more numerous or more deadly than they have been in the past. Whatever the reason, it is certain that we will have to suffer many more months or years of the slow-motion train wreck which is President Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq.

– William Blanchard

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