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Relatively good news from Reuters - attacks (and subsequent US deaths) in Iraq have declined:
The death toll among U.S. troops in Iraq dropped back to average levels in December and January after a bloody autumn, and U.S. officials said on Tuesday insurgent attacks have been waning since October.US deaths in Iraq tend to vary widely from month to month. One significant factor not included in this story (or most others) are that the peaks occur when the US is involved in the larger scale offensive operations. As for lulls, Iraq does have a winter - and that's now, with cold rain and temperatures near freezing. This sort of weather tends to keep insurgent activity down.
The number of attacks conducted by insurgents has dwindled from more than 700 per week in the first week of October, just before the October 15 referendum on a new Iraqi constitution, to the current level of about 430 per week, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.
This counts all attacks against U.S. and other foreign troops, Iraqi government security forces, civilians and infrastructure targets, Col. Johnson said. Attacks that cause damage or casualties are considered ``effective.''
``They've had a fairly consistent effectiveness rate of about 24 percent throughout that period,'' he said.
But down is good. And with Sunnis turning against al Qaeda foreigners, US and Iraqi Forces conducting operations designed to decrease infiltration along the Syrian border, and a new government offering some hope for progress, perhaps this is the beginning of a trend. (The Washington Times notes that a decrease in suicide bombings in January may further reflect that.)
I'm hopeful, but also inclined to agree with the quoted experts on this one:
``We've seen these cycles of ebb and flow half a dozen times or more since the war began. One can hope that this is a permanent decline, but it's still much too early to reach that conclusion,'' said defense analyst Ted Carpenter of the Cato Institute think tank.Other information given in the story includes current troop strength levels:
``As we continue to progress and as the new government gets settled in, I think we're in a position for this trend to continue. But whether that will be the case, who knows?'' Col. Johnson said.
Trained Iraqi security personnel: 227,000
United States: 138,000 (down from a peak of 161,000 in October and nearly that level in December)
Other coalition forces (British, South Korean, Italian, Polish, etc.) 20,000
The moderate-left Brookings Institute publishes a weekly Iraq Index PDF with lots of data and graphs - insurgent attacks, Iraqi and civilian deaths, electric production, registered cars, etc. Link is http://www.brookings.edu/iraqindex. The vast majority of these are going in the right direction - attacks, coalition, Iraq military, police and civilian deaths, etc. The only one that is flat is electicity production. I have Corp of Engineer friends over there who say we have added a lot of capacity, but attacks on power lines still are a hindrance. They also say power demand is way up as the economy grows and Iraqi's are buying laundry machines, A/C, appliances, satellite dishes in huge quantities.Posted by JOHNK IN TEXAS at February 1, 2006 10:23 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(1) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)