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The first post-Saddam month

I had a small bit of free time this morning, so I have counted the December numbers for Coalition deaths. Without further ado, here is this month’s plot:

Copyright Dale Amon. All rights reserved. May be used with attribution to Samizdata

This month contains a higher number of casualties among other Coalition troops than usual. 5 Bulgarians and 2 Thai’s are included in the combat deaths (hostile) count and one Pole was involved in a fatal accident (non-hostile). American combat deaths fell to 25; no Brits were killed either by accident or in combat in December (Two died in a road accident on the New Year). It is concievable but not provable the surviving Saddamites are specifically targetting non-US/UK forces in hopes of frightening their governments out of the coaltion. Only on the ground intelligence could tell us and that sort of information is rightfully not in the public domain.

Most significant, of course, is the large drop. One could hypothesize the opposition threw everything they had into a ‘Tet Offensive’. Like the Viet-Cong before them, they lost; unlike the Viet-Cong there is no regular army from a neighboring country, armed and funded by a super-power, to take their place.

This is only a supposition; one cannot state this with any confidence of being correct until there are a few more months of data to back it up. One could alternatively hypothesize the enemy is quietly regrouping after their offensive. I do not believe this, but it is certainly possible.

6 comments to The first post-Saddam month

  • R C Dean

    Thank God (and Dale). After November, that is exactly the chart that I was hoping to see – a drop from November’s (transient outlier?) spike back down to October levels.

  • Dave

    I hope so too, but the news from the South today is sounding pretty miserable.

  • Are there any reliable figures for Iraqi deaths attributable to “hostiles”? I assume Iraqi policemen, working for the interim authorities, would not count as coalition forces. Same for civilians, of course.

    The reason I raise this is a story circulating that the enemy, finding increasing force protection and security for coalition forces, are increasingly targeting Iraqis deemed sympathetic to the coalition and “soft targets”.

    Such a series of figures should contribute to the calculus of whether and when coalition forces will leave the country.

  • Dale Amon

    It is possible things are organized enough now that such figures are available… I don’t know where they are though. I can say from reading all the press conference transcripts that
    A) The Iraqi security and government people are being targetted more and more
    B) The numbers are relatively small, far too small to make a real dent in those forces and much, much less than the replacement rate.

  • Richard Thomas

    What are you talking about?

    That graph is so up and down that to claim the low number in December as a “decline” is really reaching. There’s just too much randomness and variability.

    I would hesitate even to draw a straight line through the whole thing (which would show somewhat of a decline of 1-2 deaths a month over the period shown).

    There needs to be *at least* another three months data before any conclusion can be drawn about the effects of Saddam’s capture from this kind of data.


  • Guy Herbert

    Garth makes a good point. What matters when you are trying to deal with insurgency is whether civilians are effectively protected from intimidation. If anyone could come up with them, civilian losses, success in the suppression of looting/kidnapping, and the level of private economic and social activity, are all more important to how things are going than troop casualties.

    The coalition forces can cut their own losses and still lose the long war. All the insurgents need to do to win is to prevent the re-establishment of independent civil society in a significant portion of Iraq until the allies get fed up and go away.