How well are we doing in Iraq?
How well is our opposition doing?

September 22, 2003

Contributed to Defense and the National Interest by Fabius Maximus, an amateur military historian.

Here is a quick summary of the situation, in 6 dimensions. Major conclusion: not much available deep analysis or hard data available from public US sources.

US casualties (all sources)

September Coalition Fatalities of approx. 1.1/day, down slightly from 1.5/day in July.

Why the slight decrease in the death rate? Has the number of opposition attacks decreased? Have Coalitions forces moved to a more defensive posture? Have opposition forces shifted their attacks to other foreign elements and domestic collaborators?

Limited data on casualties, appear to be 5 to 8 times the number of deaths payback from wide use of body armor and high-quality armored vehicles.

By all accounts opposition attacks steadily grow more sophisticated. Note the increasing number and sophistication in opposition use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). War is the ultimate form of Darwinian evolution. Guerillas learn swiftly; only the most capable survive.

Opposition casualties

Little hard data, like almost everything about our opposition. Who are they? What goals? How many? Numbers increasing or falling? From where? Why fighting?

Iraq Civilian casualties from Coalition Fire

Limited data. A reliable public source indicates 12 deaths in September thru 9/10; similar rate to deaths of Coalition forces.

Some indications of deteriorating fire discipline by US troops. If true, a bad trend. Of course, a probable goal of the opposition is to encourage indiscriminate fire by Coalition troops.

Other casualties

I could not find a public database of civilian casualties from Opposition fire.

  • Increasing number and size of attacks against Iraq civilians aiding Coalition programs.

  • Increasing number and size of attacks on personnel of UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This demonstrates the ability of opposition leaders to identify and attack strategic weaknesses of Coalition programs.

Control of territory

Unknown. Some indications that US troops have pulled back from "hot" spots.

  • Increasing Shiite control of limited urban areas.

Success of both sides in advancing political objectives

  • Unclear at this time, with many conflicting reports.

  • Appears to be increasing Iraq Sunni opposition to Coalition.

  • Kurdish support for Coalition remains strong.

  • Shiite attitudes remain mixed.

  • Support for Iraq war in US and GB appears to be declining.

  • Opposition to Iraq war among non-Iraq Moslems appears to be increasing.

Support for Iraq war among non-Coalition governments appears to be decreasing.

War in Iraq: New developments & implications, November 22, 2003

A brief look at Coalition Progress in Iraq, November 9, 2003

A one month follow-up to my September "posting":  October 31, 2003