Data provided by the Multi-National Force -Iraq Combined Press Information Center offers more evidence that the troop surge is working. Since the launch of new security measures in mid-February, the number of deaths among U.S. troops in Baghdad has dropped by 60%.
According to the military, only 17 troops died in the Baghdad region during the one-month period between 14 February and 13 March, compared to 42 deaths from 13 January-13 February. Those periods represent the first month under the new security measures, and the last 30 days before they went into effect.
And, as this report from the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) points out, the decrease in combat deaths occurred as U.S. troops established a permanent presence in some of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods, and stepped up patrols in the Iraqi capital. Before the troop surge began, many pundits predicted at least a short-term spike in casualties, with more troops exposed to sniper fire, IEDs, and other hazards.
The KUNA dispatch offers other encouraging signs from Iraq. Successful attacks against U.S. helicopters have all but ended, after a flurry of crashes in late January/early February that claimed the lives of more than 30 soldiers. The military also reports that sectarian violence in Baghdad has dropped by 80% since the new security measures were implemented.
In fairness, the Kuwaiti report notes that the combat losses do not include U.S. casualties in outlying provinces, such as Anbar and Diyala, where some insurgents are attempting to regroup. Wondering if the same trend was evident across Iraq, I researched totals at the normally accurate Iraq Coalition Casulaty Count. Here's the "nationwide" data, including Baghdad, for the same referenced periods:
January 13 - February 13 2007
Total U.S. Military Deaths During Period: 113
From non-hostile causes: 9
Combat deaths during period: 104
February 14-March 13 2007
Total U.S. Military Deaths During Period: 69
From non-hostile causes: 7
Combat deaths during period: 62
Decrease in combat deaths: 59%
While these numbers are certainly encouraging, they are not a harbinger of impending victory. General Petraeus (and other senior commanders) have repeatedly cautioned that it will take several months for definitive proof that the surge is achieving desired effects. But if the first three weeks are any indication, we appear headed in the right direction.
The greatest irony about this story is its source--the Kuwaiti News Agency. We can only assume that "western" reporters attended the same press conference where the Baghdad numbers were released, but I have yet to see those statistics in any report from the AP, Reuters, AFP, or any of the MSM's broadcast outlets.
And is that any surprise?
ADDENDUM: John Hinderaker at Powerline has some equally encouraging numbers on the drop in Iraqi civilian deaths since the troop surge began. Those totals were released by Iraqi officials and recounted in a Reuters report, but (again), I can't find any significant coverage of the drop in U.S. casualties by the MSM.