Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More good news from iraq

October IED Casualties in Iraq Down 50 Percent http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?Page=/Nation/archive/200711/NAT20071106b.html By Kevin Mooney and Fred Lucas CNSNews.com Staff WritersNovember 06, 2007 (CNSNews.com) - Eighteen U.S. troops in Iraq were killed by IEDS in October, a greater than 50 percent decline from last October, when 37 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq by IEDs. In total, according to an analysis by Cybercast News Service, there were 31 combat-related U.S. casualties in Iraq during October. That represents a 24 percent decline from September of this year (when there were 41 combat-related casualties) and a 66 percent decline from October of last year (when there were 91 combat-related U.S. casualties).The 18 U.S. casualties in Iraq in October that were caused by IEDs was also a decline from this September, when there were 22 IED-caused casualties.Progress on the ground in Iraq can be attributed to another great generation of American soldiers who are "creative, innovative, resourceful, free thinking and brave," Jay Carafano, a senior research fellow specializing in defense and homeland security at the Heritage Foundation, said in an interview. "This has less to do with equipment and technology and more to do with people fighting smarter," he said. "Every generation of American soldiers is the greatest generation."Carafano has identified three primary factors responsible for the sharp drop in IED-related casualties from where they were a year ago. One key factor is the "flipping" of the Sunni chiefs in Anbar Province, where a lot of the bombings had previously taken place. Once they turned against al Qaeda, it became possible to dismantle the support networks and infrastructure supporting the terror group, Carafano explained. The removal of amateurs from the battlefield who got paid for setting off bombs has also helped improve conditions, he said. Although organized networks like al Qaeda, Sunni extremists and Iranian-inspired groups continue to use IEDs, amateur groups are no longer in play, said Carafano."Two years ago if you wanted to make a thousand bucks, you could get yourself a video camera, flop an IED on the ground, blow something up and take a picture of it and get paid," he said. "Now if you try that you get shot."And finally, U.S. tactics have greatly diminished the capacity of al Qaeda and other terror networks to inflict damage, he maintained. "What's really been driving down casualties is getting to the left of the bang," Carafano explained. "This means you go after the bomber network before they put the IED out there ... where we've really made our money is going after the network, the financing, the bomber, the logistics, the surveillance and trying to get them before the bomb goes in the ground," he said.The "untold story" now at work in Iraq is how adept American forces are at fighting insurgencies, Carafano argued. "This is really a great myth that America can't fight insurgencies," he said. "This was a myth in Vietnam. But by the time the American army left Vietnam in 1973 we had gotten really good at fighting insurgencies ... The Viet Cong infrastructure was wiped out and the countryside was largely pacified." Other analysts have attributed declining casualties to the surge of 30,000 U.S. troops in June, as well as to the help provided by Iraqi citizens in finding both weapons and terrorists. The Multi-National Force-Iraq reported Sunday that an Iraqi citizen led soldiers to a large cache of both IEDs and explosively formed penetrators (EFPs)."We are getting these weapons off the street, which feels great," said Sgt. Damon Farmer, leader of the platoon that found the explosives in a written statement released by the MNFI. "That stuff isn't going to blow up my truck. It isn't going to kill U.S. soldiers and it isn't going to kill Iraqis."A study released last week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said, "The U.S. was able to take advantage of a tribal uprising against Al Qaeda in Anbar, increases in U.S. forces, a shift to 'win and hold' tactics in Baghdad and some other parts of central Iraq, and improving intelligence and more successful U.S. attacks on al Qaeda centers of power."The study, written by Anthony Cordesman, the Burke chair in strategy for the CSIS, went on to say, "The end result is a trend towards tactical victory against some of the worst violence and most violent elements of the war in Iraq. But levels of violence are still high, and still the same as in spring 2006."The study, like other analysts, said political resolution is necessary. "The U.S. can not win this war; it can only give Iraq's central government and those leaders interested in national unity and political accommodation, the opportunity to do so."

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