October 24, 2006

Iraq-Afghanistan fatalities and troop strength updates

Update to my September post on combined Iraq and Afghan fatalities, with some corrected population and military size numbers:

Fatalities by nation, Iraq plus Afghanistan, since Sept. 11:

1. United States: 3144 (+153 in last 7 weeks)
2. United Kingdom: 160 (+6)
3. Italy: 42 (+4)
3. Canada: 42 (+10)
5. Spain: 30 (0)
6. Ukraine: 18 (0)
6. Germany: 18 (0)
8. Poland: 17 (0)
9. Bulgaria: 13 (0)
10. France: 9 (0)
10. Denmark: 9 (+2)

Fatalities per 1,000 full-time military service personnel:

1. United States: 2.20
2. United Kingdom: 0.85
3. Canada: 0.68
4. Denmark: 0.39
5. El Salvador: 0.29*

Fatalities per million population:

1. United States: 10.48
2. United Kingdom: 2.66
3. Bulgaria: 1.69
4. Denmark: 1.67
5. Canada: 1.28

*The El Salvadoran battalion in Iraq, which has been there since 2003, suffered its fifth fatality on Oct. 20. I've excluded Estonia, which had two combat fatalities in Iraq during its deployment in 2004, which given its small army size and tiny population would otherwise put it fifth in both the per-capita and military-size ratios.

Which countries are actively involved in the two occupations right now, besides the United States?

In Iraq, the seven remaining other nations with substantial force commitments are:
United Kingdom: 7,200
South Korea: 2,000
Australia: 1,400
Romania: 900
Georgia: 850 (including 550 under UN control)
Denmark: 500
El Salvador: 400

The rest of the Iraq contingents are under 200, or are due to withdraw completely by December (Italy and Poland).

In Afghanistan, the 12 other nations with more than 200 soldiers committed are:

UK: 5,800
Germany: 2,700
Canada: 2,300
Netherlands: 2,100
Italy: 1800
France: 1,000
Romania: 700
Spain: 600
Turkey: 400
Belgium: 300
Norway: 300
Denmark: 300
Australia: 300
Sweden: 300

There has been a strong shift recently among the NATO countries over to the Afghan mission, with two previously major committers to Iraq (the Netherlands and Italy) moving the focus of their deployable strength to the Afghan mission over the last year-and-a-half. (Spain began this trend in 2004.) Three of the four major Eastern European early committers to Iraq (Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria) have basically dropped out of the game entirely, apparently concluding they've done their share (see the casualty numbers, above), or perhaps because they are less able to operate outside of the highly leveraged operating conditions (American weapons, communications support, vehicles, etc.) they benefitted from while in Iraq. (NOTE: Poland just recently committed 1,000 personnel to the Afghanistan mission.) Only El Salvador continues to fully cleave to what is now effectively a 90% U.S. effort there. As for Georgia, it is shopping for NATO membership and security guarantees against Russia, so it will likely stay to the bitter end, as well. South Korea, on the other hand, is making signs its had enough, sending a third of its contingent home this fall. Denmark, Romania and Australia, like the UK, continue to split their forces between the two theatres.

Note that Australia's commitment is increasingly similar to Canada's, just split over two operations: a battle group and administrative tail in Iraq (at Tallil AB), a naval frigate, with C-130 and naval patrol aircraft support in the Persian Gulf, and a PRT in the Dutch brigade area in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, plus a commitment of special forces. The Canadian contribution of a battle group, a PRT, special forces support and a brigade headquarters, with air transport and patrol support, but in its case nearly all in southern Afghanistan, is very similar in terms of ground force numbers. (The post-2001 Canadian naval commitment to provide its own frigate in the Persian Gulf (OP Altair) is not included in the numbers above, which brings the two national contributions even closer in raw numbers, if counted.)

UPDATE: Here's another way of looking at the numbers above, and Canada's contribution specifically. Of the 19 countries that have lost 2 or more soldiers in the Iraq and/or Afghan campaigns since 2001, Canada has by far the lowest military participation ratio (MPR): proportion of the population in full-time military service. Here are the figures, in case you were curious:

1. Bulgaria: 871 per 100,000 citizens;
2. Ukraine: 776;
3. Slovakia: 481;
4. United States: 476;
11. France: 407;
12. Italy: 396;
13. Sweden: 374;*
14. Germany: 347;
15. Netherlands: 325;
16. United Kingdom: 312;
17. Australia: 261;
18. El Salvador: 236;
19. Canada: 190.

*Sweden lost two PRT members to hostile fire in Mazar-e-Sharif in 2005.

Here's another way of looking at just specifically the Afghanistan fighting, which started to pick up, at least for the NATO nations involved, after a couple years of relative quiet, on approximately March 1 of this year as the first non-US forces moved back into the south of the country. Since that date, there have been 154 Western fatalities in Afghanistan, of which 106 occurred due to hostile acts. They break down by country this way:

1. United States: 66 fatalities (46 combat);
2. UK: 36 (18)
3. Canada: 34 (30);
4. France: 6 (6);
5. Italy: 6 (4);
6. Netherlands: 4 (0);
7. Romania and Spain: 1 combat fatality each.

If previous Afghan operational and fatality patterns hold true again, we should expect relative quiet now throughout Afghanistan from the end of October through to mid-February, when attacks on NATO forces and deaths will inevitably start to climb up again. NATO forces on the ground now are probably more than sufficient to cope through the intervening winter months, and even get back to making some headway on the development and "hearts and minds" sides of things: the big question now is whether sufficient Afghan government and NATO forces can be in place by February next, particularly in the south and east of the country, in order to defeat the Taliban's next effort. The Pakistani government's recent pact with rebels in Waziristan should free even more Taliban resources for the Afghan fight next spring than before: obviously any further drawdown of American assets in this theatre, either to reinforce Iraq or some other new military venture, would make the situation in the spring even more difficult for NATO to cope with.

Note: all the information above was derived from publicly available information at icasualties.org and Wikipedia.

Posted by BruceR at 01:40 PM

IE7: Can't complain

Assuming this posts correctly, this will be my first blog post using IE7, which I find I'm using more and more as the month goes on. I rather like the Quick Tabs feature, which is a big improvement over regular tabbed browsing. The multiple homepages are nice, too: the only problem I have so far is I think moving the refresh button to the right side was a bit of a mistake. I'm still a big Firefox fan, but there's no doubt the bar has been raised.

Posted by BruceR at 09:58 AM