Friday, December 02, 2005

Iraq - Less Bombs, More Casualties, Better Targeting

The good news is that the number of suicide bombings has dropped to a seven month low. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a coalition operations officer, told reporters:

suicide bombings declined to 23 in November as U.S. and Iraqi forces were overrunning insurgent strongholds in the Euphrates River valley west of the capital.

...Lynch called suicide bombings the insurgents' "weapon of choice" because they can inflict a high number of casualties while sacrificing only the attacker. Classic infantry ambushes draw withering American return fire, resulting in heavy insurgent losses.

"In the month of November: only 23 suicide attacks — the lowest we've seen in the last seven months, the direct result of the effectiveness of our operations," Lynch said.

Car bombings — parked along streets and highways and detonated remotely — have declined from 130 in February to 68 in November, Lynch said.

However, suicide attacks have not consistently decreased over the past year. After more than 70 such attacks in May, the number fell in August by nearly half and then climbed to over 50 two months later.

The bad news is that casualties aren't going down because the number of attacks resulting in multiple fatalities is rising. And there attacks aren't from suicide bombers - they are from advanced IEDs and car bombs, showing another change in insurgent tactics.

The latest figures issued by the Department of Defense and other U.S. and Iraqi official sources reveal an insurgency still raging unabated in which the number of total casualties inflicted on U.S. troops is once again climbing, and where the insurgents appear to be switching resources from targeting Iraqi security forces to carrying out Multiple Fatality Bomb (MFB) attacks.

As of Monday, Nov. 14, the total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the start of U.S. operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,106 according to official figures issued by the Department of Defense, a rise of 45 in 14 days.

Improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs, continued to account for more than half the total casualties inflicted on U.S. troops -- an ominous indicator that the technical expertise of the insurgents is steadily advancing.

The rate of deaths showed a grim and consistent upturn on figures over the previous two weeks. The loss rate was just under 3.25 U.S. soldiers killed per day, a significant rise on the 2.4 killed per day during the previous 11 day period. But it was still much better than the figures in late October when 30 were killed during a five-day period, a rate of six per day.

However, the figures on U.S. soldiers being wounded in Iraq showed a very significant deterioration during the second half of November: The number of U.S. troops wounded in action from the beginning of hostilities on March 19, 2003, through Nov. 28, was 15,804, the Pentagon said.

This meant 236 U.S. troops were wounded in a 14 day period, an average of just below 17 per day. This was a very high rate of casualties suffered indeed, and more than twice the rate of just over eight per day in the previous 11-day period. It was even worse than the rate of 133 wounded in a nine-day period in late October, an average rate of just below 15 per day. However, it was still an almost 50-percent improvement upon the high rates of 30-plus per day injured during the Oct. 2- Oct. 16 period.

Forty multiple-fatality car or truck bombs were recorded in November up to the 27th, the second worst month of the whole insurgency. September was the worst with 46 such attacks. Up to Nov. 27, MFBs had killed 401 people and wounded 519 more in less than four weeks.

Less suicide bombers and more large car bombs and IEDs mean that US troops are still chasing the insurgency in the tactical loop - the insurgents are switching en-masse to methods which are the hardest for security forces to counteract. The larger number of deaths from each explosion mean they are concentrating their explosives into bigger bombs and then targeting them better. Its a worrying trend that does not point to an insurgency that is losing its best tactical minds nor its ability to adapt.

Yesterday ten Marines were killed and eleven more wounded near Falluja when their patrol was attacked by a massive IED comprising of several artillery shells wired together.

No comments: