Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Rest of the Story

Today's article in the Washington Post certainly fits the "surge isn't working" template:

"April Toll Is Highest Of '07 for U.S. Troops"

Consider the opening paragraphs from WaPo writers Sudarsan Raghavan and Karin Brulliard in Baghdad; it's enough to convince the casual reader that the war is lost, and the Democrats "Cut and Run" plan may be the right strategy, after all:

The deaths of more than 100 American troops in April made it the deadliest month so far this year for U.S. forces in Iraq, underscoring the growing exposure of Americans as thousands of reinforcements arrive for an 11-week-old offensive to tame sectarian violence.

More than 60 Iraqis also were killed or found dead across Iraq on Monday. Casualties among Iraqi civilians and security forces have outstripped those of Americans throughout the war. In March, a total of 2,762 Iraqi civilians and policemen were killed, down 4 percent from the previous month, when 2,864 were killed. Iraq's government has yet to release any monthly totals for April.

Attacks killed a total of nine U.S. troops over the weekend, including five whose deaths were announced Monday. The weekend's fatalities brought the toll for the month to 104 Americans killed, in the sixth most-lethal month for American forces since the U.S.-led invasion four years ago.

Under the new counterinsurgency plan, many U.S. forces have left large, more secure bases to live in small combat outposts and to patrol hostile neighborhoods where the risk of insurgents targeting them has multiplied.

Highlighting the vulnerability of American forces, a series of explosions Monday night rocked Baghdad's Green Zone, the most heavily secured enclave in the capital and home to thousands of U.S. troops, Western diplomats and Iraqi government officials.

Pretty hard to find a silver lining in that grim report. But to reinforce the notion that the security situation is growing worse, the Post paid a visit to a base near Baghdad International Airport, for a little Q&A with the troops. Not surprisingly, their mood was pessimistic:

On Monday, U.S. troops at Camp Victory, a sprawling base near Baghdad International Airport, reflected on April's deadly toll on their comrades.

Sitting at a picnic table outside a recreation center, four soldiers smoked Marlboros under a starry sky. Part of the Headquarters Headquarters Support Company for the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga., they had arrived last month. They were on the base, just "sweeping parking lots and waiting for a sandstorm," as Pfc. Richard Gonzalez, 22, put it.

Still, they said, frequent news of troop deaths made even their mission more frightening.

"It makes me feel depressed to be in Iraq right now," said Gonzalez, who is on his second deployment. "It's a whole lot different than last time."

..."There's a whole lot more activity," said Spec. Krystal Fowler, 21, of Hampton, Va. She said it "kind of bothers" her to know other troops are taking hits in the field and she can't help.

...Gonzalez said the deaths made him realize that "there's a war going on out there."

...Fowler sighed. It's a war between Iraqis, she said.

"We are just interfering, and letting our soldiers die."

So, is there any good news from Iraq? Well, Martin Seiff of UPI examined April's casualty totals and discovered an encouraging trend--something you won't find in converage from the Washington Post.

Benchmarks: U.S. Iraq Death Rate Falls.

As Mr. Seiff reports:

U.S. fatality rates in Iraq have fallen during the past two weeks despite insurgent attempts to target American soldiers deployed as part of the "surge" strategy.

As of Monday, 3,342 U.S. troops had been killed in Iraq since the start of military operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003. Of these, 2,723 were killed in action, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

In all, 33 U.S. soldiers were killed in the 12-day period from April 19 through Monday at an average rate of 2.75 per day. This marked a significant improvement on the previous 28-day period from March 22 to April 18 when 87 U.S. soldiers were killed at an average rate of just over 3.1 per day. It was also considerably better than the previous 22 day period from Feb. 28 to March 21, when 67 U.S. soldiers were killed at an average rate of just over three per day.

Obviously, even a single military casualty in Iraq or Afghanistan is one too many, and we mourn for all the heroes who have been killed or wounded in the line of duty. But Mr. Seiff's analysis provides more anecdotal evidence that the surge may be achieving desired results. The decline in combat deaths occurred as more troops moved into hostile areas and established a permanent presence. Military officials had warned that this phase of the plan would expose more troops to hostile fire, and produce a potential spike in casualties.

According to Mr. Seiff, the drop in combat deaths over the last 12 days of April suggests that Iraqi militants and Al Qaida terrorists are largely avoiding direct confrontations with American troops, concentrating instead on inflicting mass casualties among Shiite civilians in the Baghdad area. I would suggest that the decline also reflects other factors, including an improving security situation in Al Anbar Province (where a number of local tribes have taken up arms against Al Qaida), and successful efforts to close defensive "gaps" that facilitated a series of high-profile attacks in mid-April.

Make no mistake; the battle for Baghdad is far from won. But the situation is not as grim as the MSM would have you believe.

1 comment:

jamminedward said...

Your point is well taken, but getting tired and those who need to get it--the MSM and general sheeple public aren't. The most important issue here, though is that none of our guys should be put in front of an AK or RPG that isn't a mangled, melted piece of slag from the artillery and high altitude carpet bombardment that preceded sending any soldiers in. Anyone who's watched an old WWII war movie knows you've got to "soften up" a target, before you send in troops. Shoot we've got old nukes we've got to dismantle--certain parts of Iran and the Iraqi/Syrian border seem like good candidates for atomic level disposal. Simple, economical, effective.