Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Measuring Success in Stability and Support Operations

This is in partial answer to LTG's post below.

One historical comparison to the U.S. situation in Iraq might be the British situation in Northern Ireland (N.I.). In both cases, a military force was sent in to support a government against insurgent/terrorist attack. In both cases, disarmament of local militias and holding elections was considered a sign of success. In both cases, religious violence played a major role, although resistance to what was perceived as an "occupation" was itself an obstacle to peace. Some of the differences, of course, are that Iraq was a much larger operation in a much larger nation over a much shorter timeframe, and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) began with the invasion and overthrow of a sovereign nation.

Forces: Iraq, 138,000 U.S. "baseline"; N.I., 8,000 U.K. + 7,500 N.I. Police
Population: Iraq, 26 Million; N.I., 1.7 Million
Duration: Iraq, 2.5 years; N.I., 36 years

It should be noted that U.K. troops increased over the first few years, so the figure of 10,000 is just an average estimate; the police figures also varied. I have included the N.I. police (Royal Ulster Constabulary) in one graph, while in the last graph I have included only the British Army. You can decide which comparison you feel is more appropriate... the trends are similar enough for my purposes.

The take-home message: you can tell when a stability and support operation (SASO) is succeeding because the casualties decrease with time. Pretty obvious, really. (This is certainly not necessarily true of a major combat operation [MCO] however, as LTG has shown elegantly in his charts.)

[Iraq data from as compiled from Official U.S. Department of Defense statistics. Graph (c) Dr. Strangelove.]

[Northern Ireland data from Official Police Service of Northern Ireland (formerly Royal Ulster Constabulary) Statistics. Graphs (c) Dr. Strangelove.]


Anonymous said...

Are dead and wounded counted separately? You could die of wounds. I ask because if you notice in Strangelove's graph, the wounded and dead lines trace each other. In the Similar graph on the UK, you don't see that tracing. I find that interesting. This may mean that while the numbers may be lower, the lethality of the attacks is greater.


// posted by USWest

Dr. Strangelove said...

The dead are counted in the month they die and the wounded are counted in the month they are wounded. So it may happen that deaths from a single attack appear in a later month. In Iraq, it is also true that lethal attacks have become fewer but more lethal. They are getting more efficient at killing us.