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IED Casualties Down 89 Percent in Iraq

Deploying more U.S. troops in Iraq has resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of U.S. troops being killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in that country.

IED-caused casualties have dropped 89 percent since the surge went full force last June, according to a Cybercast News Service database of Iraq casualties.

IED-caused casualties spiked in the early part of last year as the surge began. In January 2007, the U.S. started deploying an additional 30,000 troops to the country. The surge in forces was completed in mid-June.

The Cybercast News Service database shows that U.S. IED-caused casualties in Iraq peaked at 84 in May 2007, the month before the surge was completed.

In June 2007, as Petraeus launched his operations into al Qaeda sanctuaries, IED-caused casualties dropped to 71. In July 2007, they dropped to 36. By December, they were down to 8, the lowest number since August and September of 2003, the first year of the war.

U.S. IED-caused casualties spiked again in early 2008, rising to 23 in January. This was a byproduct of new offensive operations launched in the northern part of Iraq, Fred Kagan, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and an advocate of the surge strategy, has said.

However, overall U.S. casualty figures in Iraq have begun to fall off again, reaching their lowest levels in four years, and IED casualties have closely tracked this downward trend.

There were 37 U.S. IED-caused casualties in January 2007 compared to the 23 this January, a decline of about 38 percent.

There were 25 in February 2007 compared to 18 in February 2008, a decline of 28 percent. There were 54 in March 2007 compared to 20 in March 2008, a decline of nearly 63 percent.

Over the past several weeks, the decline in IED-caused casualties has been even steeper. There were 63 IED casualties reported last April versus 14 this April, a drop of 78 percent. And from May to May, casualties dropped from 84 to 9, a decline of almost 90 percent.

"The networks that build, finance and place IEDs have been disrupted, and more of the stockpiles are being uncovered before they can be used," said James Phillips, a Middle East expert with the Heritage Foundation. "There is also greater cooperation from the Iraqi civilians and better intelligence on the cells that plant IEDs."

The "Anbar Awakening" and the "shift in Sunni opinion" most certainly figure into the progress that has been in canceling out IED explosions that would otherwise lead to casualties, Phillips added.

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