An increase in ineffective attacks in Iraq

Maj.Gen. William Caldwell:


This has been a tough week. Over the past two weeks, we have seen a rise in the number of attacks, especially in Baghdad. Let me point out that an "attack" can mean anything from a stray round fired from a rifle to a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

In terms of attacks, this week's suicide attacks were at their highest level in any given week, with half of them targeting security forces. Last week almost 50 percent of the vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices were suicide attacks.

The clear intent of these high-magnitude attacks are to produce mass casualties. But while we are seeing this increase in overall attack numbers, their effectiveness has not increased. That is, casualties have not increased proportionally with the number of attacks.

Keep this in mind when you hear about Bob Woodward's new book and its assertion that the Bush administration has understated attacks in Iraq. It is also hard to make the case that such figures have been understated when they have been release almost weekly at the MNFI press briefings. There is much more in this briefing with several slides showing where much of the sectarian violence is taking place in Baghdad.


  1. What matters more: The effectiveness of the attacks or the total number of Iraqi civilians being murdered?

    Your are right, the effectiveness is waning. But what difference does that make when more civilians are dying now than ever before?

    The death rates go up as the effectiveness of each attack goes down. Which do you think Iraqis are more concerned with? And what does that say about our efforts to stabilize Iraq?


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