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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Iraq update: the situation on the ground

The other day, I talked about Iraq at a local event on the Middle East and Afghanistan after 9/11.

Much of what I said would be familiar to my readers. However, I did compile some fairly up-to-date information about the war. Here's a selection:
  • US resources are under increasing strain: The Congressional Research Service has determined that the Iraq war is now costing $2 billion per week. That's double the cost of the war during the first year and up 20% from last year.
An independent assessment, based on British military intelligence, said, “Based on current usage, there are enough stocks of illegal explosives to continue the same level of attack for 274 years without re-supply.”
In case you've not been paying attention, October 2006 is the deadliest month of the war for US troops since 2004 -- and the total number of troop deaths is about 2800 now.
At least 914,000 Iraqis have fled their homes since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, more than a third of them since sectarian bloodshed increased early this year, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday.
750,000 are internally displaced, the rest have fled to neighboring states.
The political and security situation in western Iraq is grim and will continue to deteriorate unless the region receives a major infusion of aid and a division is sent to reinforce the American troops operating there, according to the senior U.S. Marine intelligence officer in Iraq [Colonel Peter Devlin].
Without the deployment of an additional division, "there is nothing MNF- W can do to influence the motivation of the Sunni to wage an insurgency," the report states, according to a military officer familiar with the assessment.

MNF-W stands for Multinational Force-West, which is the formal name of the U.S. Marine command. A division generally numbers about 16,000 troops....The assessment describes Anbar as a region marked by violence and criminality. The region generally lacks functional governments and a respect for the rule of law.
The report adds: The Sunnis' "greatest fears have been realized."

That insecurity is a recipe for extending the insurgency indefinitely, eh?

Note: Hat tip to Rob at LGM for the IED data.

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