The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Sunday, December 28, 2003

IT TAKES ABOUT TWO WEEKS

...for the Washington Post to wake up from the "we got him!" victory daydream and notice that US casualties continue to mount.
From Sept. 1 through Friday, 145 service members were killed in action in Iraq, compared with 65 from May 1 to Aug. 30. The two four-month intervals cover counterinsurgency operations, far costlier than major combat operations, which President Bush declared over on May 1.

Increases in those wounded in action have been equally dramatic this fall. Since Sept. 1, 1,209 soldiers have received battlefield wounds, more than twice the 574 wounded in action from May 1 through Aug. 30.

Nor have casualties tapered off since the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein on Dec. 13. Through Friday, 12 service members were killed in action and 105 were wounded with Hussein in custody.

After a summer in which U.S. military commanders believed they were about to turn a corner and see a significant decline in casualties, attacks on American forces increased dramatically in October and early November, prompting a U.S. counteroffensive that culminated in Hussein's capture near Tikrit.

"The rate of casualties over the last four months is an indication that the insurgents are getting better organized," said retired Lt. Col. Andrew F. Krepinevich, director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank. "The insurgents have been encouraged by the fact that they have had some success."
And that doesn't even tell the whole story. Not applying stipulations designed to lower the bodycount, to date there have been 29 deaths (or 22 "hostile" deaths) since December 13th, the date of Saddam's capture.

Some casualty-related polling can be found in the WaPo piece:
Nevertheless, Americans are clearly growing weary of casualties. Washington Post-ABC News polling data from late March, during major combat operations, showed that 58 percent of Americans interviewed said they thought the number of casualties in Iraq was acceptable, with 34 percent saying the number was unacceptable.

The latest results, based on interviews conducted Dec. 18-21 with 1,001 randomly selected adults nationwide, indicate that those percentages have flipped, with only 33 percent saying the number of casualties is acceptable and 64 percent saying it is unacceptable.
The December polling, as I'm sure you noticed, was completed after Saddam's capture.

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