Why American Casualties are Higher
StrategyPage: Why American Casualties are Higher
So far in April, 99 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq. There are three reasons for that high number of combat losses.
First, the itÃ¢€™s no longer a wartime situation. This means American troops donÃ¢€™t go charging towards objectives in large numbers, with artillery and bombers ready to obliterate any opposition. In this wartime mode, American troops moved fast and shot frequently at any sign of resistance. A year later, most of the firepower is gone, and the troops move more slowly to avoid civilian casualties.
The Rules of Engagement (ROE) U.S. troops operate by put great emphasis on avoiding civilian casualties. While the ROE put the lives of U.S. troops first, the need to be more careful slows things down in a way that makes American troops more vulnerable.
Lastly, the Iraqis, like the Afghans in 2001, quickly learned how to cope with some of the American battlefield advantages. In particular, the Iraqis learned to exploit the ROE. This meant setting up combat bases in mosques and moving and firing while surrounded by women and children. The civilians usually were not volunteers for this duty, but Iraqis with guns tend to get their way with other Iraqis.
These are all points worth remembering. Of course, they are all part and parcel of fighting this type of war against this type of enemy. Indeed, this is one of the few ways in which this conflict actually is like Vietnam.