The Washington Post:
After generally rejecting body counts as standards of success in the Iraq war, the U.S. military last week embraced them — just as it did during the Vietnam War. As the carnage grew in Baghdad, U.S. officials produced charts showing the number of suspects killed or detained in offensives in the west.
Now, if we were to simply use body counts as a scorecard that told the whole story, this would be trouble.
Here are a few little snippets from the same story:
August was the third-deadliest month of the war for U.S. troops.
Lynch spoke at the close of a two-day onslaught of bombings and shootings that killed nearly 190 people, the bloodiest days in Baghdad since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
Over 17 days this month, guerrillas across Iraq killed at least 116 Iraqi forces and 346 Iraqi civilians in drive-by shootings, bombings and other violence, according to Iraqi officials.
So I guess I’m confused. Are body counts worthwhile or not?
The basic story seems to be this: “The US military has begun using numbers of killed and captured insurgents as some sort of measuring stick by which we apparently are supposed to be able to judge the situation in Iraq. Meanwhile four more American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb, pushing the toll of American forces killed in Iraq past 1,900.”
UPDATE: Incidentally, according to these numbers, the US has suffered 22 KIAs in the first 20 days of this month. Compare that to the 80 lost last September, and US forces have been involved in some fairly intense offensives along the Syrian border. Generally, offensive operations increase the likelihood of casualties.
Let’s say this rate holds. Think we’re likely to see “US deaths down nearly 60% since last year” headlines?