September 28, 2006

Not a good ratio

From Austin Bay:

The new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq said in an audiotape posted on the Internet Thursday that more than 4,000 foreign insurgent fighters have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Now, keep in mind that the point of this statement is to emphasize the contribution of non-Iraqis to the struggle, not downplay their losses, so there is a high probability of this being at least an honest attempt at an estimate of total fatal foreign-fighter casualties on al-Qaeda-in-Iraq's part.

Current U.S. and coalition fatalities in Iraq: 2,944.

I'm thinking that at a less than 1.5-to-1 attrition loss rate U.S. forces are more likely to run out of soldiers than the entire Arab world will run out of willing volunteers.

Now, the obvious counter to this is it doesn't include any of the Iraqi fighters killed by U.S. forces. The counter-counter to that is that the 2,944 number doesn't include the thousands of Iraqi security personnel killed by insurgents, either, so it's still somewhat apples-to-apples. But still one hopes al-Muhajir is either dissembling or misinformed here, even if there's no obvious reason he would be.

Posted by BruceR at 02:43 PM

The vultures descend

From the Washington Post, today:

BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 -- A $75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country's security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed "the rain forest..."

The academy was built by the Parsons Corporation, which you may remember from previous stories such as this one, from the New York Times:

A $243 million program led by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to build 150 health care clinics in Iraq has in some cases produced little more than empty shells of crumbling concrete and shattered bricks cemented together into uneven walls, two reports by a federal oversight office have found.

The reports, released yesterday, detail a close inspection of five of the clinics in the northern city of Kirkuk as well as a sweeping audit of the entire program, which began in March 2004 as a heavily promoted effort to improve health care for ordinary Iraqis. The reports say that none of the five clinics in Kirkuk and only 20 of the original 150 across the country will be completed without new financing...

Something else probably worth noting about Parsons Corp:

" of April 16, 2003, in 2002 Parsons Corp. ranked seventh in total campaign contributions among construction services firms, giving $153,051 (61 per cent to Republicans)"

Back in the 1990s, it was widely assumed Saddam Hussein had fired Parsons and ended their megaproject to build him a subway system for Baghdad, because he wanted to use their unfinished tunnels for WMD storage: allegations later proved by the Duelfer Report to be false. The recent experiences tend to indicate instead that it could just be that Saddam knew a crook when he saw one.

Posted by BruceR at 10:36 AM