Myers: Iraq Insurgency Same as Year Ago

Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers said yesterday that, although the U.S. is winning by “almost any indicator you look at,” the insurgency is “about where it was a year ago” in terms of the sheer number of attacks.

Myers: Insurgency same as year ago (CNN)

The insurgency in Iraq is “about where it was a year ago,” in terms of attacks, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said but he said American and Iraqi troops are gaining ground in the two-year-old conflict. Gen. Richard Myers told reporters Tuesday that the number of insurgent attacks has run between 50 and 60 a day in the past week, up from a recent average of about 40 a day. “In terms of the number of incidents, it’s right about where it was a year ago,” he said. “And weeks will differ, and months will differ a little bit. But if you look at the scope of this, over time since May of 2003, that’s the conclusion you draw.”

However, he said half of those attacks are ineffective, and the level remains “nowhere near” the volume of attacks ahead of Iraq’s January elections. In addition, he said, Iraqis are more willing to come forward with intelligence about the insurgents, and Iraq’s security forces are taking on more responsibility. “Almost any indicator you look at, the trends are up. So we’re definitely winning,” he said. “However, there will be a lot of challenges ahead. Like any insurgency, we become impatient. And in the end, the Iraqis must do this for themselves.”

My headline above is based on the CNN coverage. Interestingly, the major U.S. media played this one in very different ways. (Note: As I often do for stylistic/space reasons, I’ve taken sloppy newspaper-style one-sentence paragraphs and consolidated them into normal narrative.)

Pentagon Plays Down New Rise in Iraq Violence (WaPo p. A16)

Top Pentagon officials yesterday acknowledged a recent jump in insurgent violence in Iraq but described the escalation as nowhere near the peak levels of the past year and disputed suggestions that it represents a lack of progress. At a news conference, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the level of attacks is about the same as it was a year ago, with the insurgency retaining the ability to surge. But he and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld cited other developments — including a greater willingness by Iraqis to provide intelligence on insurgents and growth in Iraqi security forces and political institutions — as evidence of improvement.

U.S. Learning in Iraq, Officials Say

The ability of Iraqi insurgents to attack U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians has remained constant over the last year, but American forces are slowly gaining better intelligence about them, top Pentagon officials said Tuesday. After a lull that followed Iraq’s national election in January, the Pentagon has acknowledged that there has been a recent surge in attacks. Arms and money continue to flow to guerrillas, ensuring that they remain a potent force, officials say. “I think their capacity stays about the same, and where they are right now is where they were almost a year ago,” said Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

At the same time, both Myers and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said more Iraqis were providing valuable intelligence, helping U.S. and Iraqi forces hunting for insurgent leaders. “As the political process goes forward and as the economic progress goes forward, there’s going to be more intelligence coming from Iraqis, and their insurgency will have a more difficult time and it will be losing more people,” Rumsfeld said during a briefing he and Myers held with reporters.

NYT doesn’t cover this as a separate story, merely mentioning it as part of more generalized coverage of the news conference. Like LAT, it focuses mostly on the improved intelligence angle.

Myers admits the U.S. failed to kill the Iraqi resistance (Al-Jazeera)

Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff admitted on Tuesday that the Iraqi resistance is “about where it was a year ago”. However, Myers insists the U.S.-led occupation forces are winning the war and is confident of victory. “I’m going to say this: I think we are winning, okay. I think we’re definitely winning. I think we’ve been winning for some time,†Myers told reporters on Tuesday. Myers admitted that the number of attacks has increased, however he maintains that was a poor measure of the resistance.

I’d argue that the WaPo and LAT coverage and headlines best captured the story. It’s almost uncanny how similar the CNN and Al-Jazeera treatments were.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ken says:

    The main point is that despite all US efforts the Iriqi resistance remains as well entrenched today as it was a year ago. This means they are winning.

    It is just pathetic to see the US high command delude themselves in public about this.

    The Bush war in Iraq was lost the day it was launched. They are just too scared to admit it.

  2. legion says:

    Meyers’ comments don’t seem to make sense…

    If we’re gaining better intelligence about the insurgency, but the insurgency is “about where it was a year ago”, the only conclusion I can draw is that the intelligence we have is actually crap.

    I suppose an alternative interpretation is that we have _great_ intel on the insurgency; we’re just not using it to stop them from doing anything. That doesn’t sound so good either.