January 21, 2008:
The coalition air
forces in Iraq (mainly the U.S. Air Force, but also U.S. Navy, Marines and
British Royal Air Force), dropped a lot more bombs in 2007 (over 1,500)
compared to 2006 (under 200). There were two reasons for this. First,
intelligence efforts have uncovered a lot more targets in remote locations. In
urban fighting, when there are a lot of civilians around, soldiers and marines
prefer to use missiles and portable rockets, or GPS guided artillery shells and
rockets. All of these contain less explosives than the smallest air weapon (the
250 pound SDB, with 51 pounds of explosives). But out in the countryside,
bigger is often better.
The second reason was more offensive
operations. This was the "surge", which put five more infantry brigades in
Iraq, and generally turned loose most of the twenty U.S. brigades over there.
Growing numbers, and capabilities, of Iraqi security forces, freed many of the
American troops from security work. Going after the Islamic terror groups meant
many of the bad guys were flushed out of their safe houses and urban hide outs.
When they holed up in a farmhouse somewhere, a GPS guided bomb was the easiest
solution to the problem. These bombs were also used to hit known bomb workshops
and weapons storage sites.
Despite the increased use of aerial
bombing, civilian casualties were miniscule. By historical standards, there has
never been a war this intense, that produced so few civilian casualties. Over
90 percent of Iraqi civilian deaths have been at the hands of Islamic terrorist
groups, who use suicide bombers and death squads to slaughter those who
disagree with them. While Vietnam saw thousands of civilians dying each month,
for years on end, as "collateral damage" from aerial bombs, Iraq gets a few
dozen such deaths a month, at most.
Until the development of smart bombs, you had to drop a hundred or more
bombs to hit one specific target. In Vietnam, over ten million bombs were
dropped, that's over a million bombs a year. In Iraq, about a thousand bombs a
year were dropped. It makes a difference.