America’s North Shore Journal has some good graphs on the comparisons in combat deaths between US and enemy casualties in Iraq. I wish they had also done a graph illustrating the casualties of NATO forces compared to Taliban casualties in Afghansitan. They have run nearly 100 to one in favor of the allied forces there. Casualties in Iraq, in contrast, has been running about 10 to one. If one was to figure in the casualties of our allied Iraqi army and police forces it would be a much more sobering figure. The untold heroes of the bloody war in Iraq have been the various Iraqi armed forces who have suffered large scale casualties against an aggressive and ruthless enemy that does not distinguish between soldier and civilian and certainly is not ‘handicapped’ by anything like personal restraint, rules of warfare or the humane treatment of captured opponents.
Conclub has, across the board, been fairly harsh, critical and disgusted with the administration and prosecution of the war over the last several years but it is important to see what the media has not been forthcoming in reporting. According to Jules Crittenden, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno had a press conference recently, in which he reported 3,184 terrorists killed since January 2007, and another 1,018 wounded. I only partially care about ‘body counts’ though they are a helpful guide. What I do want to see is the destruction, annihalation, subjegation or neutralization (politically or militarily) by any means possible of the enemies of the US and Western Civilization. In the end, what matters is not body counts, but results.
I mourn the death of my fellow Americans as much as anyone, and I’ve sat and listened to some of my friends and others who’ve served tell some harrowing stories of their time in Iraq, but we must also not be afraid to compare it to the battle casualties of past conflicts.
The Rough Riders on San Juan Hill
Just for historical comparison the US lost 124 killed and 817 wounded at the Battle at San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. The US lost 1177 sailors in just a few minutes with the sinking of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. At the Civil War battle of Antietam the North suffered 12,400 casualties and the Confederacy lost some 10,300 men. During the battle of Okinawa in WWII the Americans dead (both sea and land) numbered 12,000 with the Japanese losing 107,000 men killed. The British and their allies suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead in just the first day of the Battle of the Somme in WWI. In four months this battle alone resulted in 420,000 British, 200,000 French and 500,000 Germans casualties.
The US must avoid at all costs further entanglements in bloody insurgencies and should use proxy armies, paramilitaries, civilian contractors, allied clans, native guerillas, tribal militias, local forces, and friendly insurgents to do the dirty work, and absorb the casualties, that we as a nation have basically stated we aren’t willing to suffer. In the future we will be inevitably engaged, overtly and covertly, in a variety of conflicts as the War on Terror and Islamic Jihadism continues throughout the world. If we no longer have the stomach to fight and win wars, then we must be prepared to utilize others to do so.
Northern Alliance soldier surrounded by dead Taliban
We can effectively provide the training, guidance, funding, arming, direction, political cover, and air power to make use of such forces instead of letting our troops play policeman and be the target of every unfriendly in the neighborhood. The initial operation in Afghanistan and the latest actions by Ethiopia in Somalia are two great examples of the kind of battles and wars the US will have to adapt itself to in the future. There can be no WWII style occupation of ‘conquered lands’ and that concept must be abandoned. No more utopian nation building, only destruction of the enemy and the immediate substitution of toppled governments with the best replacements available.
CIA paramilitary in Afghanistan