Iraq Casualties in December Down 80 Percent From Year Ago

By Kevin Mooney | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT

( - Combat-related U.S. casualties in Iraq were 82.9 percent less in December 2007 than they were in December 2006, according to an exclusive Cybercast News Service analysis of Defense Department data.

In December 2006, according to an analysis based on casualty reports released by the Defense Department, 82 U.S. military personnel were killed in Iraq as a result of enemy action. In December 2007, 14 U.S. military personnel were killed in Iraq as a result of enemy action. (Overall in December 2006, 90 U.S. military personnel were killed in Iraq, including not only those killed by enemy action but also those who died in non-combat-related accidents and for other reasons. In December 2007, 19 U.S. military personnel were killed in Iraq overall, including those who died for non-combat-related reasons.)

U.S. combat-related casualties in Iraq in December were the fewest of any month since March 2006.

At a Heritage Foundation forum last week, U.S. officials and national security experts credited the improving situation in Iraq to General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, for conceiving and implementing an effective counter-insurgency strategy, and to President Bush for following through with it.

Not everyone in the White House was keen on the troop surge, Mark Kimmitt, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Middle East Affairs, said during his presentation. He said some argued against a heightened U.S. military presence because they believed the troops would be exposed to escalating violence.

"No one last December [2006] had any idea we would see a Sunni awakening movement of such great scope and with such great effectiveness," he said. "No one expected the brilliant successes of our special forces against Al Qaeda in general. We have done better at the local level than we expected. But worse at the national level...The challenge for 2008 will be to link up these local efforts to the central government in a way that strengthens the latter while preserving the maximum space for local initiative."

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