Attrition: The Zarqawi Dip

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June 29, 2006: In Iraq, although there was a brief "spike" in the number of terrorist attacks per day following the death of al Qaeda leader Zarqawi on June 7th, since then the daily average has fallen by perhaps 15- to 20-percent over the rate prevailing in the week or so prior. This appears to be the after-effect of over 500 raids resulting from capturing Zarqawi's laptop. Over a thousand al Qaeda members and supporters were arrested. Because the al Qaeda and Baath (pro-Saddam) terrorist organizations are intertwined, the raids crippled the major terrorist organizations in the country.
American casualties are also down, but that's more a matter of how active U.S. combat units are than anything else. So far, American casualties for the first six months of 2006 (about 2400) are down 40 percent from what they were for the first six months of 2005. Part of this is due to the redeployment of many American troops to new bases outside the cities, and increasing the security on the main supply routes. The net result is that the enemy simply has fewer opportunities to attack American forces with any chances of success. Tactics have changed as well, with U.S. troops being used more for attacking enemy strongholds, and leaving the more dangerous patrolling and police work to over a quarter of a million Iraqi soldiers and police. Those American attacks are not as dangerous to U.S. troops as it sounds. The American soldiers and marines have the initiative, being able to choose where and when they will strike. With control of the night (because of all that night vision gear), U.S. forces usually catch the enemy by surprise. Most American casualties occur after these battles, as U.S. troops patrol areas devoid of organized resistance, but still full of hostiles who are willing to take a shot at you, or plant bombs. American troops don't hang around a long time, knowing that Iraqi forces will have an easier time dealing with the locals. Well, at least the Iraqi police understand the curses being hurled at them by unhappy and unemployed Sunni Arabs.

 


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