Attrition: Location Is Everything

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February 17, 2011: Terrorist violence in Iraq was down 20 percent in 2010 compared to the previous year. Since the peak of 2006-7, such violence is down over 90 percent. Terrorists, mostly Sunni Arabs, including al Qaeda, continue to set off bombs and assassinate people, but most of the country sees little or no such violence. The terrorists prefer to make their most spectacular attacks in places, like Baghdad, where international media will notice, and make it seem like the war continues. But it doesn't. The Islamic radicals behind most of this violence will keep going until their own bloody demise. Given the continued popularity of Islamic violence in the Moslem world, the violence will continue for years.

Most American troops have left Iraq, and U.S. deaths were down 60 percent (from 150 to 60) between 2010 and 2009. U.S. troops strength dropped 50 percent between 2009 and 2010. Although Iraqi police and troops are handling nearly all security in the country, there are still 50,000 American troops, including over 3,000 SOCOM (Special Operations Command) intelligence specialists and commandos (mainly army Special Forces). The Americans serve mainly to help with training Iraqi troops, and provide high-quality intelligence services. These, the Iraqis don't want to lose, although there is strong popular support for all U.S. troops leaving.

In particular, Iraqis want better security. This goal is hindered by poor discipline and leadership in the security forces. A particular problem is corruption, with officers and senior officials stealing money and equipment, and too many troops open to bribes from the terrorists. Overcoming these problems is pretty much up to Iraqis, and more Iraqis are becoming aware of this, and change is underway. But slowly. It's still unclear if the essential changes are coming too slowly.

 

 


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