Wednesday, October 01, 2003

QUAGMIRE? NOT EVEN CLOSE!

When you check the US Centcom website, it reports the following "death toll" for US forces over the past week:

3 Combat deaths
2 Vehicle accidents - they keep dropping humvees into canals!
1 Building fire (?)
1 Non-hostile

This looks very similar to what I saw in Viet Nam (when I was responsible for processing about 20% of all the HRs -- "Human Remains" -- that were shipped back to the US). Specifically, with the level of intensity we see in Iraq today, more people are being killed by accident than as the result of hostile acts. There is always a "background" level of a few deaths a week due to accidents, suicides, "friendly" fire, etc.

And there is a low level of combat deaths, usually fewer than non-combat. Only if there is a major offensive or really bad luck (major ambush, barracks blown up, etc.) will this equation tilt towards higher levels of combat deaths. Trust me, even if they were still staged in Kuwait, we'd be losing a couple of guys a week just to bad luck.

Is this a quagmire? I'd think a quagmire would be a much higher level of combat deaths (like 50 a week, given our current troop strength) that persisted, and there would have to be little progress in making true reforms in the country. That would seriously weaken the perception that we are in control and strengthen the perception we are in the proverbial quagmire -- handcuffed to Iraq while bleeding hundreds of our best and bravest.

But it isn't happening . . .




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