According to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, the Iraq War will end by 2009. “The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.”
It takes guts to call the end of the Iraq War. For an updated report on the coalition dead and wounded, see here. If the insurgency is in its “last throes,” it certainly doesn’t reflect well in the records of the dead and wounded.
In the past five months, 303 coalition military members died. This is down from 447 in the five months before (a difference of 144). This is a 32% reduction. Looking only at the military wounded, the DoD reports that 1,951 servicemembers were wounded since January 2005, down from 4,215 in the five months before (a difference of 2,264). This is a 54% reduction. The website I got the data from has an alternative list to the DoD and I’m not sure where they got the numbers. Anyway, they delineate between the wounded who did not return to action within 72 hours from those that did. Of those that did not return to action, 911 were from the last 5 months, compared to 1,964 the previous five months (a difference of 1,053). This also is a 54% reduction.
In the past 10 months, 120 contractors died (they don’t list the wounded contractors). Forty-five died since January 2005, and 75 died in the previous five months. This is a 40% reduction. Of contractors, 241 have died since April 2003.
According to Iraq Body Count, 2,849 Iraqis died in the last five months, down from 4,317 the five months before (a difference of 1,474). This is a 34% reduction.
In sum, the number of people who died in the last five months as a result of the Iraq War is 3,197, down from 4,839 dead the previous five months. The difference in total deaths is 1,642, a 34% reduction.
Looking at the last couple five months intervals, it’s clear that there has been significant reduction in the dead and wounded. Of course, we’re still talking about thousands of deaths and thousands of wounded. A 34% reduction does not seem indicative of the “last throes” of a dying insurgency. I imagine that “last throes” is more substantial than that, probably around an 80-90% reduction in total deaths. Cheney seems optimistic, but the numbers of this kind of “military activity” does not leave room for predictions of the end of the war.