We are bombarded daily with grim images from Iraq; car bombings, assassinations, wounded American soldiers and Marines. But how bad is it in Iraq? Go to your favorite news sites, get the latest run-down on events in Iraq, then take the following quiz (answers will be provided later this week).
1. How many attacks (or other violent acts) occurred in all of Iraq during the past week (ending 18 February)?
--About 400; less than half the total reported last November, at the height of our operations in Fallujah.
2. Have the number of attacks decreased since the Fallujah offensive and the run-up to the elections? If so, how much of a decrease has occurred?
--Nationwide, down by approximately 40-45%; violence in some regions is down by an even higher margin
3. How many attacks or violent acts typically occur outside the Sunni triangle in a given week?
--Less than 100. Typically, about two-thirds of the violence reported in Iraq occurs inside the Sunni triangle. The rest of Iraq--particularly the Kurdish north and the Shia-controlled south, is relatively peaceful.
4. How many times did enemy gunners attempt to engage coalition aircraft during the past month? How does that compare with the last three months of 2004?
--There were only a half-dozen engagement attempts in January; that's a 50% decrease from last fall.
5. Over the past four months, have the number of vehicle bombs in Iraq increased or decreased? Estimate the percentage of increase or decrease.
--Decreased. By mid-February, the number of car bombs had dropped by at least 35%. That's an indication of more effective tactics by our troops, and improved support from Iraqi civilians, who increasingly report the location of IEDs (and other insurgent activity) to our soldiers..
6. What percentage of all car bombings in Iraq are considered effective, that is, inflicting a minimum amount of casualties and/or damage?
--Less that 18%, as defined by inflicting a minimum amount of damage/casualties.