Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More Signs the Surge is Working

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.


Unknown said...

Future--Can't disagree with a single thing you say. And, to take it a step further, the Dims will claim that "their pressure" forced the Pentagon and the GOP to develop a workable plan.

And sadly, a large chunk of our society will buy that argument, hook, line and sinker.

Andy said...

Since when are causality numbers a measure of success in any war, particularly this one? If you want a metric to measure success, this is not it.

Unknown said...

Andrew--I only mention the casualty totals because the MSM used rising counts for WIA/KIA as proof that our strategy wasn't working. Now, with casualties on the decline--and evidence that the number of attacks is dropping as well--the MSM is predictably quiet.

You are correct--casualty totals are a less-than-optimum way of measuring success in combat. But if you're going to use those numbers to support the alleged "failure" of a policy, then you ought to acknowledge when the totals go the other way, and examine their relationship to possible improvements in the situation.

Angevin13 said...

Despite the signs of success that "the surge" is showing (I've been covering this at my blog for several weeks), the MSM still prints garbage like yesterday's editorial in the Boston Globe, "'Surge' doomed to final failure," where among many faults the author actually quite outrageously compares the Iraqi insurgency to the American Revolution.

I agree that the MSM won't give any of this any attention until the "deadlines" approach ("Future Imperfect" has the spin correct), or might even focus (as they are currently) on violence outside of Baghdad. I also think that it'll take a significant downturn in car bombings for the MSM to take notice. Thoughts on this?