Most people know that more US soldiers are dying than at any previous time in the Iraq war/occupation. 2007 was the deadliest February, March and May, and the second deadliest January and April. June will surely be another grim record-setting month.
542 troops have already died in 2007. In 2006, the 542nd troop died in October. That's one surge no one wants - even the NeoCons. ICCC
This got me thinking about the causes of US deaths. My expectation was that, given the surge, we would see a lot more troops dying in combat operations as they take the fight directly to the enemies. This is what the military has had us expect.
Unfortunately, this presumption doesn't hold up to the facts on the ground. The Brookings Institute tracks the cause of US deaths into broad groups - IEDs, mortars/rockets, RPGs, helicopter losses, other hostile fire (which I presume be to mainly from enemy rifles and guns) and non-hostile causes.
Breaking this down, non-hostile deaths have generally numbered between 5 and 10 per month recently. Mortars/rockets, RPGs, and helicopter losses are very small contributors - one percent or less of total troop losses. (Note that deaths from each of these categories have come way down over time.)
This leaves two categories - IEDs and other hostile fire. Here's the breakdown for the entire war and for the time period from March 1 through June 10.
Percent of US troop fatalities from:
IEDs: Entire War = 39%; March-June 10, 2007: 63%
Other hostile fire: Entire War = 31%; March-June 10, 2007: 28% Brookings
Even through the percent of deaths from non hostile file is slightly down recently, more soldiers are dying from this cause because, well, more soldiers are dying, period. I presume these soldiers are mostly dying fighting the enemy - a point the military brass have been making. I never want to say any death is acceptable, but the point is merely made that these men and women are dying fighting.
On the other hand, the huge increase in IED fatalities is simply unacceptable to me. These soldiers are simply sitting ducks, dying as the drive the roads of Iraq. This is an incredibly tragic outgrowth of the occupation, and I presume, the surge. And it is yet another example of why the surge is failing.