Iraq: August 22, 2003


The media announced that the death toll among coalition soldiers had reached 65 (since May 1, the end of large scale fighting.) The coalition does not release much in the way of casualty figures, especially of Iraqis. This is to avoid getting into a "body count" situation with the media, which loves to do bizarre things with casualty numbers. This is another aspect of "if it bleeds, it leads." Much of the combat action is done at night or in surprise operations, so the media cannot cover it. Some media have run with stories that the military is now hostile to the media, but in reality the need for surprise and secrecy in the fight against terrorist and criminal gangs rules out allowing much media participation. 

The guards the UN hired for their Baghdad compound were largely the same men who were assigned by Saddam Hussein's government to spy on UN operations. Why these men were hired by the US after Saddam's government fell is not clear, but American security experts believe it was a bad move, as many men from Saddam's secret police are being picked up for terrorist activities. The UN refused security help from the US as it did not want Iraqis to think that the UN was cooperating with the US.

Coalition forces have screened, trained and hired some 70,000 Iraqis for security jobs. This number will be doubled, or even tripled. Screening, training and supervising this force is time consuming and ties up bi-lingual troops and local Iraqis that are needed for other tasks. More contractors are being used to assist with the effort. But the increasingly large Iraqi security forces allows more coalition troops to be used for offensive operations against Baath Party and terrorist forces. 


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