US Wounded in Iraq Down 26%
USA Today notes that casualties in Iraq were down significantly in ’05 from the year before:
The number of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq fell by more than a quarter in 2005 from a year earlier, Pentagon records show. Military officials call that a sign that insurgent attacks have declined in the face of elections and stronger Iraqi security forces.
The number of wounded dropped from 7,990 in 2004 to 5,939, according to the Defense Department. There hasn’t been much change in the number of deaths, however. Pentagon figures show 844 U.S. troops were killed in the Iraq war during 2005, compared with 845 in 2004.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has announced plans to cut the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to about 130,000, down from about 160,000 for last month’s elections. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said he’s optimistic that security in Iraq will continue to improve and more U.S. forces could leave.
U.S. military leaders say that one of the biggest changes was in the number and quality of Iraqi forces. About three dozen Iraqi battalions, each with about 700 soldiers, are taking the lead in battling insurgents, said Army Lt. Gen. John Vines, commander of multinational forces in Iraq. There were no such battalions in early 2005, he said.
Captain’s Quarters adds that the actual number of attacks on coalition forces decreased in 2005 as well. However, the steady number of combat deaths can be attributed to the use of more sophisticated and powerful bombs by the enemies in Iraq.
In August, 2005, US officials reported seeing more sophisticated explosions, which were better at piercing armored vehicles. Military officials said they had been seizing shipments crossing the Iran-Iraq border.