April 30, 2008 [LINK / comment]
Combat deaths surge in April
After a lull that began last fall, a hopeful sign that the "Surge" policy was working, the number of U.S. combat deaths climbed to  in April, the most since last September (62). The U.S. offensive against the militia forces loyal to Moqtada al Sadr in Sadr City district of Baghdad is dragging out week after week. It is exactly the kind of urban attrition warfare that we have been trying to avoid all along, and there is a growing risk of alienating the local population if some of our soldiers fire at the wrong targets. In all such counterinsurgency campaigns, that risk must constantly be managed by military commanders. (See Washington Post.) In the south of Iraq, meanwhile, the offensive by government forces against the Shi'ite militiamen apparently gained very little. The virtual absence of the British army since earlier this year has left a power vacuum that the militias have eagerly filled.
Including fallen soldiers whose relatives have not yet been contacted, the total number of U.S. war deaths in Iraq crossed the 4,000 threshhold in March. It is sad that, as the frequency of news stories about Iraq declines, many Americans are paying less attention to the struggle.