2004 November 18 Thursday
Death Tolls Show Iraqi Government Troops Did Little Fallujah Fighting

Americans did the bulk of the dying for the new regime.

During a briefing via satellite to the Pentagon from Iraq, Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler reported the death of another Marine in the city. Marines and Iraqi security forces were going house to house, clearing buildings when they came under attack, and the Marine was killed. Another Marine was injured in the incident, and an Iraqi soldier also was killed. The Marines returned fire, and the attackers were "silenced," Sattler said.

The general said he cannot consider the city safe until Marines have gone through every house and purged the town of weapons and insurgents, "who may want to fight to the death."

The battle for the city has claimed the lives of 51 U.S. servicemembers, and 425 have been wounded. Eight Iraqi security force soldiers have died, and 43 have been wounded.

Sattler said it is safe to say that as many as 1,200 insurgents have been killed in the battle, and that the coalition is holding about 1,000 insurgent prisoners.

So we lost about 8 times as many soldiers as the Iraqis did even though our troops have better equipment and training. It seems safe to guess that down on the ground the American troops did an order of magnitude more fighting than the Iraqi troops. Unless the Iraqi troops become willing and able to take on more of the fighting the US could be stuck in Iraq fighting an insurgency for years. Regardless of whether you think that is a price worth paying my guess is that Bush will stick it out in Iraq for the next 4 years. What the next US President will decide to do about Iraq is difficult to guess.

I bet that out of those 8 Iraqi government soldiers killed and 43 wounded that a disproportionate number of them were Kurds. It would be interesting to know whether more Kurds or Shia Arabs died fighting for the government. My guess is more Kurds died even though there are about 3 Shia Arabs for every Kurd in Iraq.

Could a Kurdish Army be built up that would be willing and able to keep the Sunnis down so that the Shias could rule in a fashion that would be at least superficially democratic? Or would the Shias feel so much more loyalty for their fellow Sunni Arabs as Arabs that the Shias would be unwilling to make a political bargain with the Kurds that would induce the Kurds to play mercenary guardians of the new regime? Certainly the US could pay the Kurds for less money than it takes to keep US troops so far from home.

Steve Sailer points to a report that only at most two and half percent of the captured fighters in Fallujah were foreigners.

Col. Michael Regner, operations officer for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Fallujah, told Reuters that at least 1,052 insurgents had been taken prisoner. Only about two dozen were from outside Iraq.

The foreigners might have been more prone to flee while the local Sunni Fallujans stuck it out. But even if that is the case it seems obvious that the vast bulk of the insurgents in Iraq are Iraqis.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 November 18 04:18 PM  MidEast Iraq New Regime Failures

Invisible Scientist said at November 19, 2004 10:51 AM:


You wrote that Bush will stay in Iraq for another 4 years. From the way Bush and his people
are speaking overall, it seems that Bush might even attack countries outside Iraq.

At the same time, the Sunnis do not want to be outnumbered and ruled by the Shias
they had oppressed before, because in such a democracy, the majority would vote to
mistreat the minority for revenge.

Derek Copold said at November 19, 2004 4:12 PM:

An excellent piece by Martin Van Crevald on this war's hopelessness here:

Proborders said at November 19, 2004 4:20 PM:

"Militants Try to Stir Arab-Kurd Violence" is posted here.

Robert Martin said at November 20, 2004 4:07 PM:

"did most of the fighting"... There were some 10000 US troops; there were around 3000 Iraqi troops. Water is wet. The sun comes up in the east.... anyhting else to enlighten the population.

R.Parker said at January 9, 2005 10:32 PM:

Does anyone have updated numbers for US fatalities and wounds? I have not been able to locate any up to date figures.

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