U.S. Combat Deaths in Iraq Down 86 Percent from Last September

October 1, 2008 - 2:56 PM
U.S. monthly combat casualties are down 86 percent from a year ago for September, making it one of the least deadly months since the war began.
(CNSNews.com) - U.S. monthly combat casualties are down 86 percent from where they were a year ago for September, making it one of the least deadly months since the war began, according to a CNSNews.com analysis of U.S. Defense Department data leading up to Sept. 30.
 
Combat casualties are down not just from where they were last year, but have also fallen from where they were in the prior month. There were six combat deaths in September compared with 43 last year, and there were 13 combat deaths in August 2008.
 
This means combat deaths are down almost 54 percent from where they were in August.
 
U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq either as the result of explosives or small arms fire, Pentagon reports indicate.
 
This past July marked the least deadliest month of war since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March 2003, according to the CNSNews.com database. Only five combat casualties were reported for that month.
 
U.S. soldiers were more likely to die in non-combat incidents, such as vehicular accidents, helicopter crashes, illness and other non-hostile incidents than they were from enemy action over the past few weeks.
 
The worst single day for U.S. casualties occurred on Sept. 18 when a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed in Tallil, Iraq, about 200 miles south of Baghdad. The crash was not the result of hostile action but was most likely caused by a malfunction, according to press reports.
 
No U.S. Marines have been reported as casualties as of Sept. 30. Instead, all combat and non-combat figures involve U.S. Army personnel.
 
Half of the combat deaths came about from the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that are typically planted at roadsides to intercept vehicles. As CNSNews.com previously reported, IED-caused casualties have dropped almost 90 percent in Iraq since the troop surge went into full effect in June 2007.
 
The CNSNews.com database shows that U.S. IED-caused casualties in Iraq peaked at 84 in May 2007, the month before the surge was completed.
 
In June 2007, as Army Gen. David Petraeus launched his operations into al Qaeda sanctuaries, IED-caused casualties dropped to 71. In July 2007, they dropped to 36. By December, they were down to eight – the lowest number since August and September 2003, the first year of the war.
 
Although the United States has had more success recently in intercepting and disrupting IEDs on the battlefield, recent congressional testimony suggests terrorists and insurgents have not lost their affinity for weaponry that is relatively cheap and easy to use.
 
In spite of the recent success U.S. forces have had in pre-empting the use of IEDs, they will never be completely removed from the battlefield and remain the “weapon of choice” for the enemy in Iran and Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz said in testimony before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in September. (See Related Story)
 
Metz currently serves as director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), which was formed in 2006 for the purpose of counteracting the strategic influence.
U.S. Casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom in September
 
Combat Casualties
 
- Army Staff. Sgt. Kenneth Mayne, 29, of Fort Benning, Ga., died Sept. 4 in Baghdad when his vehicle collided with an (IED).
 
- Army Pfc. Bryan Thomas, 22, of Battle Creek, Mich., died Sept. 4 in Baghdad when his vehicle collided with an (IED).
 
- Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Taylor, 25, of Charleston, S.C., died in Baghdad Sept. 21 in Baghdad from small arms fire.
 
- Army 1st Lt. Thomas Brown, 26, of Burke Va., died Sept. 23 in Salman Pak, a part of the Babil Province, from small arms fire.
 
- Army Capt. Michael Medders, 25, of Ohio, died Sept. 24 in Jisr Naft, inside the Diyala Province, when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb.
 
- Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Phillips Jr., 33, of Conway, S.C., died Sept. 25 in Bahbahani, a part of the Babil Province, when his vehicle encountered an IED.
 
Non-Combat Casualties
 
[The Department of Defense defines a non-hostile casualty as “a person who becomes a casualty due to circumstances not directly attributable to hostile action or terrorist activity. Casualties due to the elements, self-inflicted wounds and combat fatigue are non-hostile casualties.”]
 
-  Army Pfc. Patrick May, 22, of Jamestown N.Y., died Sept. 2 in Baghdad from a non-combat incident that is still under investigation.
 
- Army Pvt. Jordan Thibeault, 22, of South Jordan, Utah, died Sept. 5 at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq from a non-combat incident that is still under investigation.
 
- Army Sgt. First Class Daniel Sexton, 53, of Wentzville, Mo., died Sept. 10 at Joint Base Balad, located in the Baghdad Province, from a non-combat shooting incident.
 
- Army Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., died Sept. 14 in Tunnis, located in the Baghdad Province, from wounds sustained in a non-combat incident.
 
- Army Sgt. Wesley Durbin, 26, of Hurst, Texas, died Sept. 14 in Tunnis, located in the Baghdad Province, from wounds sustained in a non-combat incident.
 
- Army Lt. Col. Ralph Marino, 46, of Houston, Pa., died Sept. 14, at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, from illness not connected with combat.
 
- Army Pfc. Leonard Gulczynski, 19, of Carol Stream, Ill., died Sept. 17 in Baghdad from a vehicle accident. The incident is under investigation.
 
- Capt. Darrick Wright, 37, of Nashville, Tenn., died Sept. 17 in Baghdad from illness not connected with combat.
 
- Army Chaplain (Col.) Sidney Marceaux Jr., 69, Beaumont, Texas, died Sept. 14, from non-combat illness after evacuation from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
 
- Army Pfc. Jamel Bryant, 22, of Belleville, Ill., died Sept. 27, in a non-combat       vehicle accident in Wahida.
 
      (Below: Seven U.S. soldiers died when their CH-47 Chinook Helicopter crashed about 200 miles south of Baghdad in Tallil, a part of the Dhi Qar Province. The crash was most likely the result of a mechanical failure, according to the U.S. military and is not thought to have been brought down by enemy fire.) 
 
- Army Chief Warrant Officer Corry Edward, 38, of Kennedale, Texas, died Sept. 18 in Tallil, located in Dhi Qar Province, from a non-combat helicopter crash.
 
-  Army Sgt. Daniel Eshbaugh, 43, of Norman, Okla., died Sept. 18 in Tallil, located in the Dhi Qar Province, from a non-combat helicopter crash. 
 
-  Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Mason, 37, of Springtown, Texas, died Sept. 18 in Tallil, located in the Dhi Qar Province, from a non-combat helicopter crash.
 
-  Army Sgt. Maj. Julio Ordonez, 54, of San Antonio, Texas, died Sept. 18 in Tallil, located in the Dhi Qar Province, from a non-combat helicopter crash.
 
-  Army Chief Warrant Officer Brady J. Rudolf, 37, of Oklahoma City, Okla., died Sept. 18 in Tallil, located in the Dhi Qar Province, from a non-combat helicopter crash.
 
-  Army Cpl. Michael Thompson, 23, of Harrah, Okla., died Sept. 18 in Tallil, located in the Dhi Qar Province, from a non-combat helicopter crash.
 
-  Army Cpl. Robert Vallejo, 28, of Richland Hills, Texas, died Sept. 18 in Tallil, located in the Dhi Qar Province, from a non-combat helicopter crash.