As Bush’s war continues, more Americans die


More American troops were killed in combat in Iraq over the past four months — at least 334 through Jan. 31 — than in any comparable stretch since the war began, according to an Associated Press analysis of casualty records.

Not since the bloody battle for Fallujah in 2004 has the death toll spiked so high.

The reason is that U.S. soldiers and Marines are fighting more battles in the streets of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and other cities. And while hostile forces are using a variety of weaponry, the top killer is the roadside bomb.

In some respects it is the urban warfare that U.S. commanders thought they had managed to largely avoid after U.S. troops entered Baghdad in early April 2003 and quickly toppled the Saddam Hussein regime.

And with President Bush now sending thousands more U.S. troops to Baghdad and western Anbar province, despite opposition in Congress and the American public’s increasing war weariness, the prospect looms of even higher casualties.

The shadowy insurgency has managed to counter or compensate for every new U.S. military technique for defeating roadside bombs, which over time have proliferated and grown increasingly powerful. The U.S. has spent billions trying to counter that threat, and the Bush administration in its budget 2008 request to Congress this week asked for another $6.4 billion to find more effective defenses against it.

The Pentagon’s terse death announcements only begin to tell the story:

• Sgt. Corey J. Aultz, 31, of Port Orchard, Wash., and Sgt. Milton A. Gist, 27, of St. Louis, died Jan. 30 in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, of wounds from an improvised bomb that detonated near their vehicle.

• Three days earlier, three soldiers — one just 19 years old — were killed by a roadside bomb in Taji, just north of Baghdad. And a week before that, four soldiers, from towns in the four corners of this country — Florida, New Hampshire, Oregon and California — were killed by a roadside bomb not far from Fallujah.

The increasingly urban nature of the war is reflected in the fact that a higher percentage of U.S. deaths have been in Baghdad lately. Over the course of the war, at least 1,142 U.S. troops have died in Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, through Feb. 6, according to an AP count. That compares with 713 in Baghdad. But since Dec. 28, 2006, there were more in Baghdad than in Anbar — 33 to 31.

The surge in combat deaths comes as the Pentagon begins adding 21,500 troops in Iraq as part of Bush’s new strategy for stabilizing the country. Most are going to Baghdad, but some are being sent Anbar.

With the buildup, U.S. forces will be operating more aggressively in Baghdad as they try to tamp down sectarian bloodshed, a tactical shift that senior military officials say raises the prospect of even higher U.S. casualties.

“There’s clearly going to be an increased risk in this area,” Adm. William Fallon, Bush’s choice to be the next commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, told his Senate confirmation hearing last week.

Risk is already extraordinarily high from known threats, including roadside bombs.

The frustrating fact about the hunt for a solution to the roadside bomb is that the Americans have improved their ability to find and disarm them before they detonate, and they have outfitted troops in better body armor. But the insurgents still manage to adjust: new tactics in planting the bombs, new, more powerful explosives, different means of detonating them and, amazingly, a seemingly endless supply of materials.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday that 70 percent of U.S. casualties are caused by such bombs. He said that lately Iran, allegedly in league with renegade Shiite groups in southern Iraq, has had a hand in supplying a more lethal version so powerful it can destroy a U.S. Abrams battle tank, which is shielded with heavy armor.

On Jan. 22, Army National Guard Spc. Brandon L. Stout, 23, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was killed by one of those more powerful bombs, known as an explosively formed projectile, that went off near his vehicle in Baghdad. A week earlier, four soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in the northern city of Mosul.

It is not possible to fully track the trend in bomb-caused deaths by month. The U.S. military considers such information secret because it is considered potentially useful to the insurgents and their backers. Also, the Marines do not announce the specific cause of any of their combat deaths, whereas the Army does.

Hostile forces also have had more success lately shooting down U.S. helicopters, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged Tuesday. He said four U.S. helicopters in recent weeks have been shot down by small arms fire, including a Black Hawk in which all 12 National Guard soldiers aboard were killed.

What’s more, there have been troubling new twists to some other attacks, including the sneak attack in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers; four of them were abducted and executed by unknown gunmen. U.S. officials say they are studying the possibility that Iranian agents either planned or executed that Jan. 20 attack.

A leading war critic, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said he was aware that U.S. casualties were rising, particularly in Anbar province.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all because they are targeting American troops,” he said.

Less than a year ago, U.S. commanders were anticipating a different scenario, starting a U.S. withdrawal and a more central role for Iraqi troops in battling the insurgents in major cities. Instead, U.S. troops had to step in more directly as the Iraqis came up short, particularly in Baghdad.

Now, under a new approach announced by Bush on Jan. 10, U.S. troops will be paired up with Iraqi brigades in each of nine districts across Baghdad, rather than operating mainly from large U.S. bases.

“Our troops are going to be inserted into the most difficult areas imaginable — right into neighborhoods, right in the face of the Iraqis,” Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said. “How are we going to avoid the inherent risks that are created?”

The recent rise in U.S. combat deaths has developed with relatively little notice in Congress, which has focused on the broader issue of whether to begin withdrawing forces and, now, whether to opposed Bush’s troop buildup.

The American public clearly has soured on the war. In an AP-Ipsos poll taken Jan. 8-10 , 62 percent said they thought, looking back, that it had been a mistake to go to war, while 35 percent said invading was the right decision.

Gates, while not ruling out a rise in casualties during the buildup, told reporters Jan. 26 that he sees a possibility that some insurgents and renegade militias will back off temporarily “in the hope that they can wait us out and filter back once we’re gone.”

That could mean a decline in the U.S. casualty rate, at least temporarily. And if Bush’s plan — which couples a troop buildup with stronger economic development efforts and a renewed push to get the Iraqis to reconcile their political differences — works as intended, then a drop-off in deaths might be longlasting.

The 334 U.S. troops killed in action in Iraq over the past four months does not include 36 who died of non-hostile causes like vehicle accidents. The previous highest total for those killed in action during any four-month period was 308 between September and December 2004, which included the November battle to retake the city of Fallujah.

The recent increase is not linked to variations in U.S. troop levels. That number shifted from about 137,000 troops at the end of January 2006 to a range of 130,000-150,000 during summer and fall before ending the year at 128,000. It has risen now to about 138,000, with the buildup in Baghdad just getting started.

Since the start of the war in Iraq, nearly 3,100 U.S. troops have died, of which nearly 2,500 were killed in action.

In the first half of 2006 there was a downward trend.

From February, when the bombing of a key Shiite mosque in Samarra, north of Baghdad, triggered a surge in sectarian killings, through May, 194 U.S. troops were killed in action, according to Pentagon figures. That was down from 247 in the previous four months. Shortly afterward, Iraqi civilian deaths surged.

From June through September, the total for U.S. troops killed in action was 214, down from 231 in the same period in 2005.

The upward trend began in August, the same month that U.S. and Iraqi forces launched the second phase of a Baghdad security crackdown, dubbed Operation Together Forward, that ultimately failed. From a total of 38 killed in July, the number rose to 58 in August, 61 in September and 99 in October, according to an Associated Press count.

It slipped to 59 in November but jumped to 96 in December and totaled 80 in January.


On the Net:

Defense Department

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. Kent Shaw

    If there is ever another “legitimate” terrorist attack, that is, other than a false flag attack, in the U.S., then the perpetrators will have simply walked or driven into this country from Mexico. We know it. Bush knows it. Everyone knows it. For 1% of what we’ve spent in blood and money in Iraq we could have secured this country from attack by closing the southern border. All else is nothing but zionist neoconservative “creative destruction”. Everyone knows this. All other discussion is obfuscation. We know it. Bush knows it. Everyone knows it.

  2. JimZ

    John – “Most of the current generation”

    That’s a pretty wide brush to use.

    If what you mean is young people, what I find in teenagers & people in their 20’s I know, is they DO know things are pretty screwed up; after all, look at the divorce rate in their families? They know this whole thing is a charade, the Feds on down. However, what I see in them is political LETHARGY and they are cynical. They just don’t get out and VOTE en-masse. In their defense, they just don’t emphasize political knowledge and participation in the schools anymore, like they used to. Now they want to teach everyone how to just be consumers and be good little sheep.

    Now if you want to get more specific yet, the generation I see that just doesn’t get it is the post-WWII baby-boomers. I am related to some of them, and am myself on the tail end. You want to talk about heads buried in the sand? Despite their 60’s-70’s upbringing, during Vietnam, and all the political upheaval of the times, I see more ignorance from them than younger people. They have truly bought into the “consumption economy concept”.

    Now I know there’s exceptions, not everyone in the boomers are like that. But I feel I’m right about it as a collective whole. THEY are the voting power in this country.

    I have seen much progress in the “Greatest Generation” who are now seniors, but there’s more room to grow. Most of them, I think, now realize they were duped about Bu$h and what the “conservative” and “liberal” movements are. Now THEY are getting cranky…

  3. Kent Shaw

    Henry Kissinger, quietly and unobtrusively behind the scenes advising the Bush administration in foreign policy matters, once said “The soldier is just a dumb, stupid animal to be used by the politician.” So I don’t understand the big deal. So a few more dumb, stupid animals die along the way to Israel’s conquest of the Middle East. There is so much more to gain, it must be worth it. Hegemony. Oil. World domination. Its a win, win, win situation.

    Isn’t it?

  4. Kent Shaw

    JimZ: “Now if you want to get more specific yet, the generation I see that just doesn’t get it is the post-WWII baby-boomers. I am related to some of them, and am myself on the tail end. You want to talk about heads buried in the sand? Despite their 60’s-70’s upbringing, during Vietnam, and all the political upheaval of the times, I see more ignorance from them than younger people. They have truly bought into the “consumption economy concept”.

    Now I know there’s exceptions…”

    So sad but so true. I was born in 1949 so I’m smack in the middle of the baby boom generation. There is so much apathy among my peers it is unbelievable. They just do NOT want to hear about it. Total denial. And like you said, not all of them, but yes, most. I have a few friends that are concerned and aware but most of the people we know just want to wish it would all just go away. When massive inflation hits and destroys us all they will be totally blindsided. When all of a sudden their property taxes go from $2000 a year to $100,000 because of the massive inflation being engineered in order to pay the national debt off with cheap dollars they will be dumbfounded. And when the banks own everyone’s property and we are all out in the streets they will wonder how the hell THAT just happened.

    Now pass me the sports page if you’re done with it. I’d like to read up on the coming NASCAR season before I go out to put another coat of wax on the car for the little wife. She’s at her Oprah book club chatting about Paris and Brittney.

  5. john

    Thank you Kent and Jazz. You too are an example of what I speak. All mouth and no action, what have you proposed except that the American people, for whatever reason, refuse to act. The government has nothing to fear from this type of inactivity so why should they change? The last election is a god example, we voted for change and not a damn thing has changed but the names. Excuses will get you nothing but a seat on the bus or train to a camp, action may get your freedom back.

  6. JimZ

    Now wait, Congress is “trying” to get us out of there! (yea, right)

    The U.S. Congress & Senate play the fiddle while more U.S. troops and thousands of civilians die.

    We keep getting told by the Bu$hevics that “al-Queda” is responsible for much of the insurgency, yet all we hear from the NIE and other intelligence sources they are less than 10%. We are told by the Bu$hevics Iran is responsible for much of the insurgency, yet we find out that there is scant evidence that much, if any, weapons & personnel are crossing the Iran/Iraq border, and again, the NIE and other intelligence sources tell us this is the case. Now they’re trying everything to bait Iran to attack us (or fake one) just to start ANOTHER WAR!

    For every civilian that gets killed, at least one more “insurgent” or “terrorist” is created.

    How is this a “War On Terror”?

    Sounds like we are the terror.

    And the neocons just keep raking in the money.

    By the way, Paul Bremer, what happened to all those pallets of cash printed & sent to Iraq back when you were in charge?

  7. JIM Z and ALL !!

    CONGRESS “fiddles” in endless “threats, threats of filibusters and the never ending whining tone of joe liberman singing “Why can’t we all just get along”

    As Jim says, the neocons just keep “raking it in”l Every helicopter thaty goes down, every bullet that is used up. Someone in a NO BID-Contract assigned by this administration makes money.

    We are told constantly, we CANNOT we WILL NOT forget the troops. HELL, they have forgotten all about the troops EONS ago. The only people thinking, really thinking about the TROOPS are the 72% of the American people that had said ENOUGH !!

    Bush however doesn’t listen, because he will NOT BE ALLOWED to listen by the NEOCONS to stop this war until the deal is made to let the likes of KBR, Halliburton and whomever else control everything in Iraq they want to.

    Certainly, BLAME Bush because as President he IS untimately responsible….but if your looking for the real culprits here…START with Cheney and go on down the list.

    The war is about OIL MONEY and POWER. It is not about DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM or SHARING…Never has been.

    HOW’s that for FAIR & BALANCED …PERIOD

  8. JimZ


    The people actually calling the shots are the people who visit Dick Cheney in his office or “secret location”. No wonder why he wants all visitation records classified. Cheney is simply the enforcer and Karl is the “idea” guy.

    Can you imagine any of these people having warm blood? They are vampires.

  9. bob bobson

    I feel bad for those who perish, but why are they taking part in that “war”. If you are ignorant enough to sign up and go there, then good riddance. Ohh, watch out for those scary terrorists. What is that line that makes me laugh every time I hear it? oh yeah: “We’re fighting them over there so they don’t come here.” Well, “they” could already be here thanks to DHS’ lack of border security. Besides, every red-blooded White American male should be able to defend himself, as long as he has a pair (like me and my buddy Hal Turner of the HalTurnerShow)

  10. Hi Jim Z.

    No Vampires is a good term all cold blooded, money hungry,unbelieveable bold, delete, delete.

    And Cheney I will bet so far has been successful in making sure “the visitors” are not known. You see in the day’s of my time as a reporter we used to recognize a story when there was one. We had to have at least two iron clad and in some cases three sources.

    Today’s reporters don’t, can’t or won’t and the likes of FOX for example is charged with keeping the waters stirred and cloudy with fluff and other nonsense so that the real story stays third or fourth generation or more

    We follow up the made up support the troops story with Britany’s Baby and they call it NEWS. What a crock !!

    You know what’s tragically sad and funny at the same time? Remember when early on after Bagdad was taken by American forces and there was a small mountain of cash uncovered in one of Saadam’s palaces. Well one GI apparently helped himself to about 100,000 so the story goes, and the military, Bremmer, Franks and the entire heirarchy KNEW about it faster than a speeding bullet. The GI was prosecuted to the full extent the law allowed so I am told.

    Now in testimoney before Congress, BREMER, our Medal of Freedom winner none the less, is saying that the 8.8 BILLION that he can’t account for when HE was running the show…that weighed mind you 363,000 TONS, was because “we were in the middle of a war and normal modern banking facilites and practices were impractacle.

    What BS and it looks like the CONGREES is going to let that one slide as well.

    Has any of them heard of simply SIGNING for whatever amount and simply keeping the paper in a lock box in the GREEN ZONE.

    NOPE…Guess not. What BS.

  11. Arion

    Wars are never as popular with the people who have to suffer and die for them, as they are with the profiteers and suppliers who get rich on them. Considering the estimated $300 Million that Cheney and Halliburton have made it’s pretty obvious why the war started in the first place.

    But isn’t it odd that while American troops battle for control of oil production in the Middle East, the American public is turning increasingly to bio-diesel, theanol, and other alternative fuels?

    I am reminded of Martin Sheen’s line in “Apocalypse Now” when he looks at the soldiers around him. “They weren’t looking for anything but a way home. Trouble was, I’d been back there; and I knew that it just didn’t exist anymore.” By the time U.S. troops come home, they will find a radically different country than the one they left.

  12. JimZ

    Interesting that we never hear anything anymore about the first “viceroy” of Iraq, Gen. Jake Garner?

    The Democrats seem to like to bring up Paul Bremer’s failings as the “viceroy”, but Garner just doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

    Anyone got any recent information on that guy and what he’s doing? (speaking out, etc.?)

    I seem to recall that Jake was more interested in rebuilding Iraq and turning it over to Iraqis then setting up for a permanent U.S. occupation with bases, with Iraq a “banana republic”, a subsidiary of U.S. Corporations (fascism).

    Garner got dumped and along came Bremer, a former employee of Kissinger & Associates (yep, THAT Henry Kissinger), one of the looters of war. Note that Bremer got an undergraduate degree from Yale. Anyone smell “Skulls & Bones” here?

  13. Ardie

    Bush hasn’t accepted the hard fact that a military solution is not feasible. Only negotiations have a chance of ending the present conflict. Short of this, it is more of the same: troops in, body bags out.

  14. John

    Most of the current generation is totally unaware of what is really going on. Of the remainder, many of whom write daily in areas such as this and have some intellect that shows promise but they so greatly fear loosing anything that they have yet to realize that just such inactivity will result in their loosing everything. Seems that even these mental morons should be able to see that even though the current Congress was put in by means of an overwhelming anti-Bush and anti-war majority that there is really no difference in these two parties and in fact the America some of us were born in is DEAD. If this governmental activity does not come to a halt immediately we will loose the few remaining freedoms we have, our property, our belongings and our lives as we are herded off to the camps. We still have the Second Ammendment and it was meant for times such as these. We who realize this would rather not use it, are definitely not running around with a death wish but if our elected officials will not do what the people want we have no need for them and they should be replaced as stated in the documents which declared our independance. Sorry to say this but you prim and proper candy asses and all your rehetoric has thusfar resulted in nothing but more of the same as those who make the laws do not have time for you or any of us. Thomas Jefferson once said that if your government no longer listens it is time for a new government. Ours is far too corrupt to cure and far too afraid of our standing up to remain should we do so. Those elected maggots in Washington act as if we are not here, I think it is time that we consider taking back our country.