The "Surge" A Year Later - Overwhelming Success

A year ago in Baghdad: Shiite militiamen and Sunni insurgents owned entire neighborhoods and key areas beyond. Iraq's government was adrift, and U.S. commanders weighed the real possibility of being trapped in a full-scale civil war.

"The surge" was launched Feb. 14, 2007, with the 82nd Airborne as the vanguard of an American troop buildup that would climb to 30,000 extra U.S. soldiers.

A year later Iraq looks very different.

The "surge" in Baghdad and surrounding areas was seen as a last ditch effort to salvage the American mission in Iraq.

The U.S. led forces have successfully tamped down violence, and the Pentagon has forged critical pacts with Sunni fighters against al-Qaida in Iraq.

After a sharp initial spike in military and civilian casualties, the numbers make a strong case that the surge generally accomplished its main goal.

Before February 2007 was out, 1,801 Iraqis and 81 U.S. soldiers would die. By contrast, January 2008 saw figures of 609 and 39, respectively.

Anbar province, which stretches to the Saudi Arabian, Jordanian and Syrian borders west of Baghdad, fell virtually silent. It had been the heart of the Sunni insurgency and a bastion for al-Qaida in Iraq.

Sunni tribal leaders who had been fighting the Americans, began in late 2006 to turn on al-Qaida, fed up with the terrorist organization's brutality and austere brand of Islam.

U.S. forces exploited the shift sponsoring similar movements in Baghdad and regions to the north and south. An estimated 80,000 members of the so-called Awakening Councils or Concerned Local Citizens are now fighting with and not against U.S. and Iraqi forces.

The first half of the surge year saw enough casualties to make 2007 the deadliest for American troops, with 126 killed in May alone, along with 2,155 Iraqis. In all, at least 831 Americans have died in 12 months of the surge.

The sharply lower figures for the second half of 2007 have only returned the pace of U.S. losses to what they were in late 2003 and early 2004. The Iraqi death toll is back down to where it was at the close of 2005.

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