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Benchmarks: 20,000 U.S. troops injured

By MARTIN SIEFF, UPI Senior News Analyst   |   Sept. 18, 2006 at 4:14 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The trends in U.S. casualties suffered in Iraq through August continued into September.

The rate at which U.S. troops were being killed continued to slowly fall, but the rate at which injuries were suffered, including serious ones, continued to rise.

And since the beginning of this month, U.S. casualties in the war have passed another grim benchmark: More than 20,000 U.S. troops have now been wounded while serving in Iraq.

The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq through Tuesday, Sept. 18, since the start of operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,678, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense. Therefore, 33 U.S. soldiers were killed during the 18-day period from Sept, 1 through Sept. 18 at an average rate of 1.77 per day.

This was an improvement of more than 16 percent on the previous the two-week period from Aug. 18 through Aug. 31 when 29 U.S. soldiers were killed at an average rate of just over two per day.

This figure was also significantly better than the general rates of U.S. soldiers killed per day over the past five weeks. U.S. soldiers were killed during the three-week period from July 28 through Aug. 17 at an average rate of 2.33 per day. From July 21 through July 27, 14 U.S. soldiers were killed at an average rate of two per day.

Before that relatively stable five-week period, the rate at which U.S. soldiers were killed per day in Iraq had risen for almost eight weeks. Some 1.75 per day were killed during the eight-day period from July 13 through July 20. And 1.36 U.S. soldiers were killed per day during the 15 day period from June 29 through July 12. However, during the eight days from June 21 through June 28, 24 U.S. soldiers died at an average rate of three per day.

The latest figures therefore still fit within the parameters of casualties we have recorded during the past five months. Some 1.75 U.S. soldiers per day died in Iraq during the seven-day period from June 14 through June 20. During the eight-day period of June 6-13, 2.5 U.S. soldiers were killed per day. During the six-day period of May 31-June 5, some 11 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of 1.82 per day.

The latest figures are significantly better than the general pattern during the 48-day period from April 13 to May 30, when 107 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of just over 2.2 per day. But they were still slightly worse than the previous longer-term trend during the 68-day period from Feb. 4 to April 12, when 112 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of 1.65 per day.

However, the rate at which U.S. soldiers were being injured in Iraq continued to slowly but inexorably rise. From Sept. 1 through Sept. 18, 340 U.S. soldiers were in injured in Iraq at an average rate of 18.9 per day. This was an almost identical rate to the 18.7 per day who were injured from Aug. 18 through Aug. 31. Therefore over the past seven weeks, the rate at which U.S. troops have been injured in Iraq has remained remarkably consistent, and it was slightly up on the three-week period from July 28 through Aug. 17 when 354 U.S. soldiers were injured at an average rate of 16.857 per day.

The latest figures were still a 25 percent improvement on the seven-day period from July 21 through July 27 when 169 U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq at an average rate of 24.14 per day. However, that figure may have reflected a short-term surge in insurgent attacks that was a statistical anomaly. For the preceding eight-day period from July 13 through July 20 saw an average figure of 14.25 U.S. soldiers injured per day in Iraq -- making a total of 114 injured during that time.

As of Sept. 18, 20,113 U.S. soldiers have been injured in Iraq since the start of hostilities.

The latest rate of U.S. troops wounded per day, however, was still more than 60 percent worse than the figure of 178 U.S. troops wounded over the 15-day period from June 29 through July 12 at an average rate of 11.2 per day. The latest rate was also about 17 percent higher than the figures of 124 wounded during the June 21-June 28 eight-day period at an average rate of 15.5 per day. It was also far worse than the 82 wounded in seven days from June 14 through June 20 at an average rate of 11.7 per day.

Most significantly, however, the latest figures were more than 40 percent worse than the long-term average rates for U.S. troops wounded in Iraq over the four months from February through May. Some 635 U.S. soldiers were wounded in the 48-day period from April 13 to May 30 at an average rate of just over 13.2 wounded per day. That figure showed a remarkable statistical consistency compared with the previous 68-day period from Feb. 4 to April 12 when 943 U.S. soldiers were wounded, an average rate of just below 13.9 wounded per day, according to figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

As of Sept. 18, 9,158 of these U.S. troops were wounded so seriously that they were listed as "WIA Not RTD" in the DOD figures -- in other words, Wounded in Action Not Returned to Duty. This marked an increase of 167 such casualties in 18 days at an average rate of 9.27 per day. This was significantly higher than the previous figure of 105 such casualties in 14 days at an average rate of 7.5 per day. It was also almost twice the rate of the 113 such casualties suffered in the previous 21 days at an average rate of 5.38 per day.

© 2006 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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