Iraq: January 27, 2004

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So far, there have been 610 coalition troops killed in combat. This includes 518 Americans, 56 Britons, 17 Italians, eight Spaniards, five Bulgarians, two Poles, two Thais, one Dane, and one Ukrainian.

Six American soldiers, and seven Iraqis were killed in five attacks today, two of them involving roadside bombs. There are an unusually large number of American vehicles on the roads as 105,000 American troops enter Iraqi to replace the 130,000 already there. Security preparations for this movement have been intense, because it was expected that hostile Iraqis would try and take advantage of a "target rich atmosphere." As much as possible, vehicle movements were routed around Sunni Arab areas in the Baghdad suburbs were most of the Iraqi attackers live and have support. UAV, aircraft and vehicle patrols along the movement routes was increased. One major complaint the troops have is that the curfew was lifted last year, as a political gesture, but this makes it easier for hostile Iraqis to plant their bombs at night. Many have been caught doing this, by UAVs or helicopter crews using night vision equipment. 

Most of the convoys moving now are composed of troops who did not normally spend a lot of time on the road. The low casualty rate so far, given the number of ambushes and roadside bombs planted, was because the American troops on the road every day were trained to deal with these hostile acts, and had lots of practical experience. But with all the less well trained and experienced troops out there during the troop replacement, there will be more opportunities for the Iraqi attackers to inflict casualties.


 

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