Civilian casualties were down about a
third in June, while American military casualties were about the same (although
combat deaths were down about 20 percent. )
Given the larger number of U.S. troops in Iraq, the casualty rate was at
its lowest point so far this year (about five percent a year, on an annual
basis). While no one but military historians, and the troops themselves, seem
to notice it, the American casualty rate in Iraq is the lowest in military history. The casualty rate (killed
and wounded) is less than half what it was in Vietnam, and less than a third of
what it was in World War II. It's a combination of better training, better
equipment and better leadership, the end result of post-Vietnam reforms that
have not ended. But this is not news. What is news is the declining terrorist
activity. But that won't be big news until there are no more bombs going off.
The terrorists realize this, and are scrambling to keep the car bombs coming.
This is increasingly difficult as troops and police move through the Baghdad
suburbs, finding and destroying the bomb workshops. Not only that, several
recent raids have also captured large amounts of cash. The terrorism in Iraq is
sustained by cash, because most attacks are paid for. The Sunni Arab population
suffered an economic catastrophe once Saddam and his Baath Party were out of
power. For decades before 2003, the Sunni Arabs, 20 percent of the population,
got most of the oil money, and any other economic action. Suddenly, they were
getting less than even their fair share of 20 percent. Baath Party moneymen had
cash, and they offered paid work for those willing to help drive out the
Americans, and get the Sunni Arabs back in power, and at the head of the line
for all things financial. That plan has not worked out so well, but many Sunni
Arabs will fight to the death. Because if they are caught, they are likely to
die because their names are on a list. The Kurds and Shia Arabs keep lists of
Sunni Arabs who have misbehaved.
The U.S. is releasing more evidence that Iran has
been actively supporting attacks against government and coalition forces in
Iraq. More Iranians have been captured lately, including some Lebanese
Hizbollah Shia terrorists. Iran has terrorist training camps, in Iran, where Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, and
others, are taught how to be more effective killers. Many of the graduates,
even if they are not Iraqi, are sent across the border to practice what they
have learned. But American action against the Shia groups that work with
Iranian terrorists, has captured more people, documents and weapons lately.
Islamic radicals in Iran want the U.S. to attack Iran, as this would unite many
anti-government Iranians behind the government, at least for a while.
The quality of the Iraqi security forces,
especially the army, increases. The U.S. Army tracks this progress, but keeps
the scores secret. This is because a primary cause of poor performance in Iraqi
units is corrupt officers. Too many people in Iraqi society are for sale. This
can have deadly results if you are an army officer or police commander. Morale
quickly collapses in a unit when the troops realize their boss is only in it
for the money. The American advisory teams have worked out various drills to
try and get rid of corrupt commanders, but they often find several higher
layers in the chain of command that are also corrupt. The senior U.S.
commanders end up having tense meeting with senior government officials, or the
prime minister himself, over this. Getting rid of dirty generals is difficult
if the general is well connected politically. For this reason, experienced
Sunni Arab officers are preferred, even if they are hated by the majority Kurds
and Shia Arabs. The Sunni Arab guy knows he is on a terrorist hit list for just
wearing the uniform, but usually has the idea that if he does well, the new
government will protect him and his family. These men serve as models and
mentors for less experienced Shia officers. While officers are divided by a bloody religious and political
history, they are united by professional respect, and necessity.