IED-related casualties in Baghdad began to trend upward in March 2007, at a time when additional U.S. troops were being deployed. However, the analysis also shows a significant drop in IED-induced casualties that initially started last summer.
Although the instances of IED casualties occasionally have moved upward on a month-to-month basis, they remain well below what the U.S. Defense Department reported last year.
For example, in May 2007, 36 U.S. casualties resulted from IEDs in the Baghdad region. By comparison, only 5 were reported in May 2008, a decline of 86 percent. There were 12 IED casualties reported in Baghdad Province in April 2008 versus 31 in April 2007, a decline of about 60 percent.
The comparison between March 2008 and March 2007 also shows a noticeable decrease. There were 19 IED casualties reported in March 2008 versus 30 last year, a drop of almost 37 percent.
IED casualty figures in the Baghdad region experienced their largest month-to-month jump in 2007, from 11 in February to 30 in March, an increase of more than 60 percent. This jump coincided with one of the earliest missions initiated as part of the surge strategy.
“Operation Enforcing the Law” involved the deployment of five additional brigades for the purpose of securing Baghdad, Fred Kagan, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and a chief architect of the surge strategy, notes on his Web site.
The uptick in casualties that occurred throughout the spring and summer of 2007 was not unexpected, Kagan told Cybercast News Service.
Several offensive operations were launched against former Al Qaeda strongholds in Baghdad and in other combat zones as part of the surge strategy, and this resulted in more casualties over the short term, he explained.
The influx of new troops that began in January 2007 was fully implemented in June 2007 when IED-related casualties peaked in Baghdad, the analysis shows.
However, this upward spike fell back almost immediately, according to the Cybercast News Service database. There were 19 IED casualties reported in July 2007, a reduction of over 50 percent from June 2007.
With combat operations moving out of Baghdad and more into the northern part of Iraq, it is not surprising to see IED activity pick up in the Diyala, Ninawa, Kirkuk and Salahuddin Provinces, Kagan indicated.
To date, the highest concentrations of casualties in 2008 have occurred in those regions. For example, six soldiers died in combat on Jan. 9, 2008, in Sinsil, a city in the Diyala Province, as a result of wounds suffered from an IED. Five soldiers died on Jan. 28 in Mosul, a city in the Ninawa Province, from an IED.
One of the heaviest days for casualties for U.S. forces absorbed so far this year was on Feb. 8, when four soldiers were killed after their vehicle hit an IED in Taji, a part of the Salahuddin Province.
"IEDs are the weapon of choice for the enemy," Lt. Col Richard Goldenberg, a member of the New York National Guard who was deployed to Iraq in 2005, told Cybercast News Service. "They are easy to manufacture and deploy."
Staff Sgt. Sean Goodridge was stationed just north of Baghdad city in Balad from Oct. 2003 to Jan. 2005. Although his deployment ended before the insurgency reached its peak, the IEDs were already becoming a menace, he said.
“You really had to be on your P’s and Q’s every time you went outside of the wire,” he said. “The use of IEDs just evolved. It began with just roadside bombs but then we began to encounter vehicle-born IEDs with suicide bombers. You had to be cognizant of every single vehicle pulling up to you.”
The supply routes in Balad and other parts of the Baghdad region offered up scenarios reminiscent of the “Mad Max” films starring Mel Gibson, Goodridge said. U.S. service members who lacked armor would come up with different techniques to protect themselves, he said.
“You would see a lot of innovation out on those supply routes,” said Goodridge. “It really was like watching something out of Mad Max.”