Monday, March 24, 2008

We've Crossed Another Sad Milestone...

How many time have we heard this? A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday... How many times do we have to hear it? Well, it looks like it's going to be a while. A grim milestone came on the same day that rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone - pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000. Navy Lt. Patrick Evans, a military spokesman, expressed condolences to all the families who have lost a loved one in Iraq, saying each death is "equally tragic." "There have been some significant gains. However, this enemy is resilient and will not give up, nor will we," he said. "There's still a lot of work to be done." Last year, the U.S. military deaths spiked along with the Pentagon's "surge" — the arrival of more than 30,000 extra troops trying to regain control of Baghdad and surrounding areas. The mission was generally considered a success, but the cost was evident as more and more soldiers returned home in flag draped caskets. When will it end?

The death toll has seesawed since, with 2007 ending as the deadliest year for American troops at 901 deaths. That was 51 more deaths than 2004, the second deadliest year for U.S. soldiers. The milestones for each 1,000 deaths — while an arbitrary marker — serve to rivet attention on the war and have come during a range of pivotal moments. When the 1,000th American died in September 2004, the insurgency was gaining steam. The 2,000-death mark came in October 2005 as Iraq voted on a new constitution. The Pentagon announced its 3,000th loss on the last day of 2006 — a day after Saddam Hussein was hanged and closing a year marked by rampant sectarian violence. The deaths taken by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, however, are far less than in other modern American wars. This should make us feel better? In Vietnam, the U.S. lost on average about 4,850 soldiers a year from 1963-75. In the Korean war, from 1950-53, the U.S. lost about 12,300 soldiers a year.

Commanders often say there is no guarantee the trends will continue. They would like to see the Iraqis take more of a front-line role in the fighting, but their ability to operate without American support could still be years away. So folks, sit back and get ready for more. Until we change our "strategy", whatever that may me, we're going to be hearing, "A roadside bomb killed..." for a long time. To the people on the front line...Thank You. To the grieving families...I am truly sorry. To our President...this has got to end soon!